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West Indies v England 4th Test

Fourth Test, Barbados (day five):
England 600-6 dec & 279-2 drew with West Indies 749-9 dec

By David Ornstein

Alastair Cook hits 139 not out for his best Test score and eight Test ton
Alastair Cook scored his first Test century since December 2007

Alastair Cook hit a career-best 139 for his eighth Test century as England batted out day five to draw the fourth Test against West Indies in Barbados.

The tourists resumed on 6-0, 143 runs adrift, and the captains eventually shook hands after tea as England declared on 279-2, 130 runs ahead.

England lost Andrew Strauss for 38 and Owais Shah for 21 before Cook hit his first Test century since December 2007.

Kevin Pietersen scored 72no but England trail 1-0 ahead of Friday's final Test.

West Indies will go into the match in Trinidad knowing that they cannot be beaten in a series against England for the first time since 1998.

Having made 600-6 declared in the first innings, England will be disappointed that they were not in a position to push for the win going into the final day at Kensington Oval.

But after the hosts declared on 749-9 in reply, Strauss' men can take credit for securing the draw so comfortably.

With England's batting collapse on day four of the first Test still relatively fresh in the memory, West Indies knew victory was by no means beyond them if they could apply pressure on the tourists from the outset.


Their task was made more difficult by a flat pitch on which 1,355 runs had been scored at the start of play and that was showing few signs of deterioration despite the odd crack.

But the hosts began in determined fashion and might have emerged with the wicket of Cook when the batsman was beaten outside his off stump on three occasions in the first over by Fidel Edwards.

It was vital for England that openers Strauss and Cook weathered the early storm and they did so in cautious fashion amid some testing and disciplined fast bowling from Edwards and Daren Powell.

The pair gradually grew in confidence, though, and went some way to calming any nerves as Strauss crashed Powell past point for four and Cook worked Edwards through the off side to the same effect.

Having seen Cook struggle to cope with short-pitched deliveries in the first innings - he eventually fell on 97 with the last of several miscued hook shots - Edwards targeted the Essex left-hander with more of the same.

Cook issued a mixed response, offering a few poorly timed slaps before emphatically pulling Powell and Edwards to the rope.

Strauss was making fairly serene progress but almost lost his partner when Cook's miscued slog-sweep off Sulieman Benn narrowly eluded Brendan Nash, who was running back from deep mid-wicket with the ball coming over his shoulder.

Cook was also the beneficiary of poor West Indian field placing when a Benn delivery clipped his glove and looped into the air, only for the leg slip to be positioned too deep.

Alastair Cook
Cook converted a fifty for only the eighth time in 28 attempts

Keen to inject some much-needed life into the session, Windies captain Chris Gayle brought himself into the attack and the decision paid dividends.

He almost had Cook run out by Benn before Strauss tried to cut a quicker delivery that was drifted into him but succeeded only in chopping the ball into his stumps.

Shah was quickly into his stride with a blistering drive off Benn through cover, while Cook passed 50 for the 20th time by cutting Benn to the rope and helped the tourists to 115-1, a 34-run deficit, at lunch.

But any thoughts England may have harboured of a comfortable start to the afternoon session were dashed when Shah, struck plumb on the toe, fell lbw to Benn in the sixth over after the restart.

By that point Gayle had already sent down a devilish maiden to Cook that culminated with third umpire Daryl Harper rejecting a TV referral after Ryan Hinds took what West Indies felt was a catch off the bat.

Cook was having problems coping with Gayle and Benn but, fortunately for England, Pietersen was on hand to steady the innings and get the scoreboard ticking over again.

That, in turn, seemed to relax Cook and after England overhauled West Indies' first innings total, he opened up with a flurry of well-timed boundaries off Edwards and part-time spinner Hinds.

He crafted his way to 99, becoming the youngest Englishman to reach 3,000 runs in the process, but remained there for 10 nervy deliveries before passing 100 by working Hinds into the leg side for three.

Cook was entitled to celebrate - his last hundred came against Sri Lanka in Galle on 18 December 2007 - but he would have been returning to the pavilion on 105 had Devon Smith held on at slip after Hinds coaxed an outside edge.

Pietersen clubbed Hinds over long-on for a towering six and swept a single to bring up his fifty as England reached tea on 233-2, an 84-run lead.

In a tame evening session, Cook passed the 127 he made against Pakistan in 2006 but just 46 runs were added in 13 overs before a draw was agreed.

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see also
Gayle praises Windies centurions
02 Mar 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
02 Mar 09 |  England
West Indies v England photos
02 Mar 09 |  Cricket
Windies unchanged for fifth Test
02 Mar 09 |  West Indies
Fletcher backs referral system
01 Mar 09 |  England
England on top after Strauss ton
26 Feb 09 |  England
England in West Indies 2009
29 Dec 08 |  England

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