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Cook grinds India's bowling for another hundred

December 06, 2012 16:31 IST

First, the facts: Alastair Cook has led England in five Test matches so far, and in each of them has scored a century. A world record!

Now, the impact.

England's captain was at it again as he led his side to a comfortable position by close of play on Day 2 of the third Test against India at the Eden Gardens on Thursday.

- Scorecard

Replying to the hosts' total of 316, the visitors were 216 for 1 at stumps.

Cook was unbeaten on 136, and giving him company was Jonathan Trott, on 21.

Alastair CookCook's 236-ball was replete with 19 boundaries and a six. He broke a plethora of records during the course of his innings, but more on that later.

The fact that India's bowling lacked the bite helped England's batsmen to a considerable extent, enabling them to score freely and assert their authority as the game progressed.

The fact the Indian fielding was shoddy, on expected lines, added to the home team's woes.  Cook got a reprieve on 17 and made India pay a heavy price for the blemish.

Earlier, it took England 15 overs on the second morning to take the remaining Indian wickets.

The hosts, resuming on 273 for 7, added 43 more runs before being dismissed for 316 in their first essay.

MS Dhoni became the third batsman to score a fifty in the Indian innings, contributing 52 before being the last man out.

Monty Panesar was the pick of England's bowlers with figures of four for 90, picking the first two wickets to fall in the morning.

Morning session:

India (43 runs, 15 overs, three wickets)

Dhoni (52) made clear India's intentions at the outset, smashing the second ball of the day, from by James Anderson, to the fence.

The home side was prepared to take the attack to the opposition.

Anderson did manage to square up Zaheer Khan (6) in his second over as he found a thick edge. He was unfortunate, though, as Graeme Swann put down the chance at second slip.

The blemish cost the visitors nine runs, to be precise, five wides followed by Zaheer rubbing it in with a boundary off the delivery of the over.

Zaheer did not last long, however, Monty Panesar trapping him leg before in the next over.

The spinner returned to rattle Ishant Sharma's (0) timber for his fourth wicket. It was his 15th wicket of the series, no mean feat considering he has bowled in only three innings.

A six over mid-off by Dhoni (off Panesar) helped India get past the 300-run mark. He celebrated the same with another six off the next ball, over long-on this time.

A boundary punched through extra cover, off Steven Finn, took Indian's captain to his 27th Test fifty, his seventh against England.

He had batted more than two-and-half hours in this innings, a rarity these days.

However, his resistance ended the very next ball, as Finn pitched one short; the ball bounced up to the batsman's throat and Dhoni edged it to Graeme Swann at gully.

His 114-ball knock was inclusive of five boundaries and two sixes; he put on 20 runs for the final wicket with Pragyan Ojha (0 not out) to frustrate the visitors to some extent.

Spare a thought for Ojha. He survived 19 balls, and 39 mins, without scoring.

England innings (22 runs, 11 overs, no wicket):

Cook and Nick Compton (57) opened the batting for the visitors. With Zaheer and Ishant failing to effect the breakthrough, spin was introduced in the 10th over, R Ashwin replacing Ishant (4-1-7-0).

The two England openers, though, safely negotiated their way through to the breather.

Post-lunch session (99 runs, 31 overs, no wickets):

The visitors were fortunate at the outset of the second session.

In the third over after resumption, Zaheer induced an edge off Cook's (on 17) blade, but Cheteshwar Pujara failed to hold on to the catch.

Cook stepped out of the crease and smashed Ashwin for a six over mid-on soon after. Another single in the same over helped the visitors reach the 50-run mark.

He and Compton soon surpassed a longstanding record for the highest opening partnership for the opening wicket for England against India at Eden, besting John Robertson and Richard Spooner's stand of 52, achieved way back in December 1951.

A boundary straight past Zaheer's outstretched fingers, his ninth of the innings, helped the England captain reach 49. He duly completed his 30th Test fifty with a single off the next ball. It was Cook's fifth fifty against India and marked another addition to a run of good scores in the series.

Having witnessed his captain's aggression throughout, a till-then reticent Compton came out of his crease and hoisted Ojha for a six. Another boundary from his blade off the same bowler helped England reach the 100-run mark in the 36th over.

The openers ensured the visitors dominated the second session.

Post-tea session (95 runs, 31 overs, one wicket):

A boundary past extra cover (off Ishant) followed by three runs past point helped Cook reach 88, his 7,000th Test run. In doing so, he became the 11th player from his country, and 41st overall, to reach the milestone.

More importantly, at 27 years, 347 days, Cook became the youngest player to achieve the landmark, besting Sachin Tendulkar's record (28 years, 193 days) in the process.

A single to deep square leg, off Ishant, helped Compton register his maiden half century.

It did not take long for Cook to complete his third successive hundred of the series, three runs off Ashwin helping him achieve the feat.

It was Cook's 23rd Test hundred, giving him sole lead among Englishmen – Kevin Pietersen, Colin Cowdrey, Geoffrey Boycott and Wally Hammond are tied at second place with 22 centuries apiece.

In fact, Cook bested Hammond's mark, the latter being the first to get 22 tons, back in 1939.

Ojha finally provided India the breakthrough they so desperately needed, getting Compton out leg before. Umpire Rod Tucker seemed unconvinced to begin with, but eventually raised his finger.

It was the left-arm spinner's 15th wicket of the series, tying him with both Panesar and Swann. Ojha has been the lone bright spot in an Indian bowling effort that can be described as vapid.

Compton's 137-ball knock was inclusive of six hits to the fence and one over it. He and his captain put on 165 runs for the opening wicket.

In came Trott, and the fact that England was in a strong position relieved him off any pressure – even though he hadn't been in the best of form in this series.

He helped his captain put on another 50 runs in an unbroken second wicket stand that further bolstered England's dominance.

Photograph: BCCI