England reached 238 for nine after Alastair Cook’s painstaking half-century on Day One of the fourth Test against Australia at Chester-le-Street yesterday.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon was the most successful of the bowlers taking 4-42 off 20 overs. He literally broke the hosts’ back, taking the wickets of Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Jonny Bairstow.
Cook (51), was outscored by each of his partners — Trott most notably — but took it upon himself to provide the solidity after choosing to bat first on a pitch many had predicted would help the seamers.
In the event it appeared simply slow — and with the outfield similarly inclined at the Emirates Durham ICG, England’s progress was scratchy. Cook was fourth out just before tea, lbw playing no shot to a Jackson Bird delivery which nipped back off the angle into him.
The England captain had previously appeared in no mood to take any chances, seeking not only to improve on his moderate series so far with the bat but also to convert his team’s unassailable 2-0 lead into outright Ashes victory for a third successive time.
He needed 17 balls to get off the mark in a cagey morning session.
It was not until the final ball of the 12th over that England had their first boundary, courtesy of Joe Root’s cover-drive off Bird, and then Cook pushed a second four through a vacant mid off from the next ball - the first of Ryan Harris’ second spell.
As is his wont, Michael Clarke used all-rounder Shane Watson twice before turning to frontline seamer Peter Siddle - and the ploy worked again when Root was caught-behind pushing forward. Umpire Tony Hill did not detect an edge, but Hot Spot settled the issue for once after Australia called a review and had the initial decision overturned. When Siddle was summoned, he conceded 11 runs in his second over; yet still the lunchtime score was only 57 for one from 27.
England 1st Innings
A Cook lbw b Bird 51
J Root c Haddin b Watson 16
J Trott c Khawaja b Lyon 49
K Pietersen c Haddin b Lyon 26
I Bell c Harris b Lyon 6
J Bairstow lbw b Lyon 14
M Prior lbw b Siddle 17
T Bresnan not out 12
S Broad c Warner b Harris 3
G Swann c Lyon b Harris 13
J Anderson not out 16
Extras (b5, lb1, w3, nb6) 15
Total (9 wkts, 90 overs) 238
Fall of wickets
1-34 (Root), 2-107 (Trott),
3-149 (Pietersen), 4-153 (Cook), 5-155 (Bell), 6-189 (Prior), 7-193 (Bairstow),
8-197 (Broad), 9-214 (Swann)
Harris 19-3-70-2 (5nb)
Watson 13-6-21-1 (2w)
Siddle 17-5-41-1 (1nb, 1w)
Spotted: Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh, Neha Dhupia in Bandra
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