Alastair Cook delighted with knock despite falling short of century

Gary Ballance unbeaten on 104 as England enjoy strong opening day

Alastair Cook of England raises his bat after making 95 on the first day of the second Test against India at the Rose Bowl in Southampton. Photograph:   Michael Steele/Getty Images

Alastair Cook of England raises his bat after making 95 on the first day of the second Test against India at the Rose Bowl in Southampton. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

 

England captain Alastair Cook has spoken of his relief, despite falling agonisingly short of his first century in over a year, as he finally felt like he had made a positive contribution with the bat again on the opening day of the third Test against India in Southampton.

The 29-year-old had looked set to take his Test tally to 26 hundreds – 14 months and 28 innings after getting his 25th – but Ravindra Jadeja spoiled the party by dismissing him, caught-behind down leg-side, on 95.

“If you’d have offered me that at the beginning of the day, of course I’d have taken it. I’m disappointed because it adds to the innings without a hundred, but I’ve batted okay and it’s nice to finally contribute,” he said.

Cook and Sam Robson (26) started the day with their first half-century opening stand together, at the eighth attempt, before the England captain’s second-wicket partnership of 158 with Gary Ballance (104 not out) powered England into a strong position.

The hosts finished the day on 247 for two, with Ballance and Ian Bell (16) at the crease ready to go again on Monday.

Cook, meanwhile, can reflect on a job well done as he finally managed to answer his critics.

“I can’t tell you how much I wanted to score a hundred,” he added.

“The support I have had throughout this period, which I’m not through yet but it’s a little step in the right direction, has been great. When you haven’t scored runs for a long time it’s only natural to be nervous and only natural to want it even more.”

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