Cook holds firm with a goodbye innings to strengthen England’s grip on fifth Test

Cricket - England v India - Fifth Test - Kia Oval, London, Britain - September 9, 2018 England's Alastair Cook in action Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
Updated 09 September 2018
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Cook holds firm with a goodbye innings to strengthen England’s grip on fifth Test

  • Alastair Cook, England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer, reaches 46 not out on his final innings
  • India’s Ravindra Jadeja continued an excellent return to Test cricket

LONDON: Alastair Cook’s typically grinding effort of 46 not out in his final Test innings before international retirement left England in a strong position in the fifth Test against India at the Oval on Sunday.
England were 114 for two in their second innings at stumps on the third day, a lead of 154 runs, having already won this five-match series at 3-1 up.
Now Cook, England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer and captain Joe Root (29 not out), his successor as skipper, will look to pile on the agony for India when they resume their unbroken third-wicket partnership of 52 on Monday.
India’s Ravindra Jadeja continued an excellent return to Test cricket by starring with both bat and ball.
Jadeja, playing his first Test of the series after being recalled in place of the injured Ravichandran Ashwin, added to his haul of four first-innings wickets by top-scoring with 86 not out in an India first-innings total of 292.
England, who led by 40 runs on first innings, have long struggled to find an opening partner for Cook, with 12 batsmen given a shot at the job since Andrew Strauss retired six years ago.
And ahead of their upcoming our of Sri Lanka, England may now be looking for two openers rather than one after Keaton Jennings completed a miserable series by being bowled for 10 playing no shot to Mohammed Shami on Sunday.
It was the second time in as many Test that Jennings had been dismissed leaving the ball and meant he ended the series with just 163 runs at a meagre average of 18.
An unconcerned Cook, who has already batted for more than three hours this innings, went 26 balls without scoring but seized on an over-pitched ball to drive Shami down the ground for four.
Moeen Ali, batting at number three — another of England’s problem positions — failed to demonstrate similar patience.
The third member of England’s all left-handed top three, Moeen drove loosely at Ishant Sharma on 14 only for normally reliable second slip KL Rahul to drop the head-high chance.
Fortunately for India, Moeen was bowled by Jadeja for 20 trying to drive the left-arm spinner out of the rough.
But Root, batting in his favored position of number four, showed his class with a straight-driven four off Shami to take the score to 100 for two.
A frustrating day for England spearhead James Anderson saw him continue to remain two shy of Australia great Glenn McGrath’s record of 563 Test wickets — the most taken by a fast bowler.
Before play started, the International Cricket Council announced Anderson had been fined 15 percent of his match fee for “speaking in an aggressive manner” to umpire Kumar Dharmasena on Saturday after an lbw review against India captain Virat Kohli went the way of the star batsman.
Kohli eventually fell to Ben Stokes for 49, strengthening an England grip on the game established earlier Saturday by Jos Buttler making 89 on his 28th birthday.
India resumed in trouble at 174 for six, with Vihari 25 not out and Jadeja unbeaten on eight.
Vihari, who came through a couple of close lbw incidents involving Broad when on nought, was increasingly assured as he completed a fifty in 104 balls, including six fours and a six.
But a seventh-wicket partnership of 77 finished when off-spinner Moeen, whose hat-trick ended last year’s Oval Test against South Africa, had Vihari caught off a thin edge by wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow for 56.
Jadeja completed a 113-ball fifty, including seven fours and celebrated the landmark with a trademark twirl of the bat.
Silly-point Jennings then snatched at a bat/pad chance when last man Jasprit Bumrah went forward first ball to leg-spinner Adil Rashid.
Jadeja, on 56 at the time, cashed in on Bumrah’s reprieve.
England took the new ball only for Jadeja to drive Anderson straight back over his head for six and hook Broad for four down to long leg.
But Jadeja, who made his highest Test score of 90 against England at Mohali two years ago, was left short of a hundred when Bumrah was run out as he tried to keep the strike.


Real Madrid can still win title, claims Santiago Solari

Updated 17 February 2019
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Real Madrid can still win title, claims Santiago Solari

  • Defeat leaves Real in third, nine points behind arch-rivals Barcelona.
  • Girona had not won in the league since November.

LONDON: Santiago Solari insisted Real Madrid could still win the La Liga title despite a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Girona.
The capital club were coming off a five-match winning streak, but were not able to get past their relegation-threatened rivals at the Bernabeu, conceding twice in the second half after taking a 1-0 half-time lead.
Girona had not won in 13 matches in all competitions and were coming off six straight losses. The Catalan club had not won in the league since November and had entered the weekend one point from the relegation zone. So to say this was a shock would be understating the case, Real were on the up, and this was supposed to be an easy win to aid their slim title hopes and add to the momentum of their good 2019 form.
But Solari — clearly a “glass half full” man — claimed Real’s title charge was far from over. Asked if the title was lost, the Argentine, who took over the asked Julen Lopetegui in October, said: “Not at all, not at all, next week there is another match, our rivals, too. All the matches are difficult, as Girona have shown today, we have to keep winning to try to cut the gap.
“This is football and there is always a rival, in this case Girona, who played well.
“In the second half there was a lot of energy. Girona were forceful when they attacked and we lacked clarity. The fatigue is not only physical, it is mental, concentration. We come from a major bustle, many games with good results, and that may have happened to us at the energy level in the second half. It’s likely.”
The surprise defeat dropped Madrid to third place and left them nine points behind Barcelona, who edged Valladolid 1-0 on Saturday with a penalty kick converted by Lionel Messi. The result at the Nou Camp ended a three-game winless run for the Girona neighbors in all competitions.
Madrid had won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions, with the only setback a 1-1 draw at Barca in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals. They had cut Barcelona’s lead from 10 points to six in recent rounds after seeing their arch-rivals go through a slump.
Solari made some changes to the starting lineup, leaving Vinicius Junior and Gareth Bale on the bench after they started midweek in the 2-1 win at Ajax in the Champions League second round clash.
Casemiro opened the scoring with a firm header from near the penalty spot in the 25th minute after a cross by Toni Kroos, and Girona equalized with a penalty kick converted by Cristhian Stuani in the 65th after a handball by Sergio Ramos inside the area.
Girona had a golden chance to equalize about five minutes before the penalty, when Aleix Garcia’s close-range shot went over the crossbar. The visitors moved in front with a 75th-minute header by Portu after Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois initially saved a shot by Anthony Lozano.
Portu had hit the post a few minutes earlier with a booming shot from inside the area.
Solari put on Vinicius Junior and Bale in the second half, but they were unable to save Real. Courtois made it to the area in a last-gasp attempt, but could not get enough on his header, sending the ball just wide of the post.
As if to emphasize the dire day, Ramos was sent off in 90th minute after receiving a second yellow card.