Keaton Jennings marks debut with Test century

December 8, 2016

Keaton Jennings enjoyed a dream first day in Test cricket by making 112 as England made a solid start to the third Test against India in Mumbai.

The South African-born youngster, who came into the squad as a replacement for the injured Haseeb Hameed, opened the batting with captain Alastair Cook after England won the toss and was fortunate to avoid a duck as he was dropped at slip.

However, he was to make the most of his reprieve, batting with style, quality and temperament to build a platform for a highly competitive total on a pitch already starting to take spin. By the close England had reached 288-5 with Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler at the crease.

Jennings even managed to reach his century with a reverse sweep, and in making three figures in his first Test he achieved something last managed by an England debutant when Jonathan Trott scored 119 at the Kia Oval in 2009.

Alastair Cook is the other player in the current side to achieve the feat, while former players on the list include men with highly distinguished careers, such as W.G Grace, Graham Thorpe, Matt Prior and Andrew Strauss.

Fans booking corporate hospitality for next summer's Test Match at the Kia Oval between England and South Africa may include some who saw Trott's feat. In making such a great start, Jennings suggested England have now found two new top-order players, with Hameed having impressed greatly with his talent, technique and temperament before being forced to return home for an operation on his broken hand.

Of course, making a debut century is no guarantee of a successful career: the brief England Test careers of John Hampshire and Frank Hayes testify to that. Equally, had he been caught for a duck that would also have been no indicator either; Graham Gooch bagged a pair on his debut, yet retired 20 years later as the holder of the most Test runs by an Englishman. Nonetheless, the innings may be the start of big things to come.

Jennings came into the match in good form after making an unbeaten century for England Lions in a one-day game against the UAE, but this step up in class was a major examination, and he passed it.

As the son of former South Africa coach Ray Jennings and an English mother, the Durham batsman had the option of playing for either country and his choice may lead to him being targeted by the likes of Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada next summer, making it a tasty encounter.

Jennings added 99 for the first wicket with Cook, who made 46, and after Joe Root had been dismissed by a fine piece of bowling by Ravi Ashwin, he put on 94 for the third wicket with Moeen Ali, who played a loose shot against Ashwin just after reaching 50. Jennings then fell to the next ball and Jonny Bairstow was caught sweeping to leave England teetering on 249-5.

However, India were unable to prise any more wickets and with Stokes on 25 and Buttler 18 overnight, the tourists are in a good position. Having won on their last two visits to Mumbai, England may yet complete the hat-trick needed to keep alive their hopes of levelling the series.

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