England in India / Features

India v England, 1st Test, Nagpur, 4th day

Cook confirms his class

Alastair Cook showed he has the talent and technique to survive and prosper with his debut performance of 60; in the second innings, he showed he has the appetite for runs too

S Rajesh and Kanishkaa Balachandran

March 4, 2006

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Alastair Cook showed he has the talent and technique to survive and prosper with his debut performance of 60; in the second innings, he showed he has the appetite for runs too, becoming the 15th England player to score a century on Test debut, and only the fifth to score a century and a half-century in his first game. At 21 years and 69 days, he is also the youngest debutant centurion, beating Peter May's earlier record by more than a year.

Hundred and fifty on debut
Player Scores Against At
KS Ranjitsinhji 62 & 154 Australia Old Trafford, 1896
George Gunn 119 & 74 Australia Sydney, 1907-08
Paul Gibb 93 & 106 South Africa Johannesburg, 1938-39
Andrew Strauss 112 & 83 New Zealand Lords, 2004
Alastair Cook 60 & 104* India Nagpur, 2005-06

Over the course of both innings in this match he showed, too, that he is a complete player, capable of scoring on both sides of the wicket. In the first innings, 31 of his runs came in the arc between backward square leg and midwicket; this time around, he clearly favoured the off side: 64% of his runs were scored on that side of the wicket, including all 12 fours.

On the other hand, Kevin Pietersen was prolific on the leg side: 69 out of his 87 runs came in that region, thanks in part to Anil Kumble's round-the-wicket, outside-leg line.

Admittedly lucky to survive a couple of clear chances off him, Pietersen was quite prolific against Kumble, hitting him for 36 from 41 balls. In fact, Pietersen has had a pretty good time against legspinners: in the Ashes he took 153 off Shane Warne and was dismissed just thrice, while Danish Kaneria went for 58 from 77 balls in the Test series last year, though Kaneria claimed his wicket a couple of times.

On the other hand, it wasn't such a happy day for the Indians, especially the spinners. The potency of Kumble and Harbhajan Singh in the opposition's second innings in a Test in India isn't often questioned, but here they bowled 62 overs between them and bagged just a single wicket. That's the most ineffective combined performance by them in the second innings of a match in India. Their previous worst was against Pakistan at Kolkata in 1998-99 where they bowled 43 overs for one wicket.

England have done most of the running in this Test, and India will be up against it on the last day. Out of ten Tests against England at home when India have batted in the fourth innings, they have won four, drawn four and lost two. The highest total they have chased successfully is just 86, at Madras in 1972-73.

S Rajesh is stats editor and Kanishkaa is editorial assistant at Cricinfo. For some stats they were helped by Arun Gopalakrishnan

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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