x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Batting coach Graham Gooch pleased about Alastair Cook's run of form

But former England captain is not too concerned about a lack of runs off the other players' bats ahead of first Test against Pakistan.

Alastair Cook, the England opener, hit 10 boundaries in a 260-ball knock in Dubai on Wednesday.
Alastair Cook, the England opener, hit 10 boundaries in a 260-ball knock in Dubai on Wednesday.

DUBAI // Alastair Cook struck a fighting hundred on Wednesday to prop up a struggling England batting display against a Pakistan Cricket Board XI in their second three-day tour match in the UAE.

The 27-year-old opening batsman hit an attractive 133 to lift England, sent into bat, to 269 for nine declared on the opening day of the match played at the Global Cricket Academy.

In reply the PCB XI were 23 without loss at close, with Nasir Jamshed on 12 and Afaq Raheem on 10.

Apart from Cook, Matt Prior (46) and Kevin Pietersen (38) were the only top-order England batsmen to get some runs as Andrew Strauss (3), Jonathan Trott (0), Ian Bell (0) and Eoin Morgan (11) flopped again.

That left England much to think about ahead of the first Test against Pakistan, starting here from Tuesday.

Cook, who made 76 and 24 in England's three-wicket win in the first tour match, held the innings together by adding 83 for the third wicket with Pietersen and had a fighting stand of 90 with Prior for the sixth.

He was finally dismissed, caught behind by Sarfraz Ahmed off Talha before England declared the innings.

Cook hit 10 boundaries during his 260-ball knock and looked untroubled throughout.

Talha finished with four for 43 but it was the leg-spinner Yasir Shah who rattled the middle-order to end the innings with figures of five for 75.

Talha, part of Pakistan's 16-man Test squad, dismissed Strauss and Trott in his first spell before Pietersen and Cook repaired the early damage.

Shah broke the partnership when he dismissed Pietersen soon after lunch and followed that with the wicket of Bell in his next over. He then got Morgan to leave England struggling at five for 121.

Prior, who hit seven boundaries during his fiery 57-ball knock, helped Cook take England past 200-mark.

Graham Gooch, the England batting coach, said he was not overly worried about batsmen not coming good.

"I don't have concerns. But everyone would like to spend time in the middle, and if they miss out they might feel they're a little bit short on confidence, but you've got to believe in yourself, think back to when you've done well," said Gooch, praising Cook.

"He's come up with some runs in a part of the world where it's a bit slow and you've got to get into the tempo of the play and work a bit harder for your runs."