Cook and Bopara plunder West Indies

By Ed Osmond

CHESTER-LE-STREET, England (Reuters) - Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara struck confident centuries to lift England to a commanding 302 for two on the first day of the second and final test against West Indies Thursday.

The pair shared a second-wicket partnership of 213 to give England a perfect start in their bid to clinch the series, Cook reaching the close unbeaten on 126 after Bopara fell for 108.

A dispiriting day for West Indies was watched by a sparse crowd and the one-sided nature of the contest ensured there was little atmosphere as the home team won the toss and set about batting the opposition out of the match.

Cook and Andrew Strauss put together an untroubled first-wicket partnership of 69 before the captain, on 26, gloved a catch down the leg side to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin as he tried to sweep a ball from opposite number Chris Gayle.

It was a hollow victory for Gayle, who had criticised Strauss in the build-up to the game, and a rare moment of satisfaction for West Indies.


Cook mixed watchful defence with crisp attacking strokes on both sides of the wicket and he found the perfect foil in Bopara, who also made 143 in the first-test win at Lord's.

The Essex team mates patiently took the score to 184 for one at tea and reached their centuries in the final session.

Cook got there first, clouting Sulieman Benn through mid-wicket for his 11th four to post his ninth test hundred and Bopara lofted the left-arm spinner over long-on for six before passing three figures for the third test innings in a row.

Bopara again looked comfortable in the number three position, mixing his favourite wristy shots through the leg-side with clean strikes straight down the ground.

Gayle rotated his bowlers but there was little in the pitch for the seamers and Benn was employed for long spells with defensive fields to try to contain the scoring rate.

Bopara was bowled just before the close, seamer Lionel Baker making the ball nip back off the seam to beat the right-hander's tired defensive prod.

Nightwatchman James Anderson survived the last four overs with relative ease and England will look to push on to a huge total on the second day.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez. To query or comment on this story email

Article Published: 14/05/2009