Tons for Cook, Root as Hales boosts test hopes

PIETERMARITZBURG, South Africa,(Reuters) – Alastair Cook and Joe Root scored centuries and Alex Hales a timely knock of 56 as England piled on the runs against South Africa A in their last warm-up game before the first test.

Cook reminded the hosts of his ability with a solid knock of 126, bringing up his century with a six over mid-wicket, while Root scored 117 as England amassed 414 for six before declaring late in the day.

Stuart Broad and Moeen Ali claimed a wicket each as South Africa A reached 35 for two in their second innings, 243 behind the tourists, after the second day of the three-day match.

The contribution from Cook’s opening partner Hales will have gone a long way to assuaging concerns about handing him a test debut on Saturday, when England and South Africa begin their four-match series in Durban. Hales had been pencilled in to open with Cook after showing form in limited overs internationals but after scoring just 16 runs in two innings in England’s opening warm-up game in Potchefstroom last week, he needed a good knock to back up the confidence shown in him by coach Trevor Bayliss.

Cook and Hales compiled a confidence-boosting opening partnership of 112 before Hales was bowled by an in-swinger from Dane Paterson at the City Oval.

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