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Cook's record ton powers England

07 December, 2012

KOLKATA: Last week, England trounced India on the sort of raging turner MS Dhoni has routinely demanded this season. This week, on the sort of flat track at Eden Gardens where India's batsmen have thrived in the past few years, England delivered a lesson in old-fashioned Test-match batting.

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The vast opening stand built on the advantage provided by the immaculate bowling on the first day, and by stumps England were at 216 for 1, just 100 behind, and India were looking as flat as the pitch.

The records continued to tumble for Alastair Cook. He now has the most Test centuries for an England batsman, became the youngest batsman to 7000 Test runs, and has five hundreds in five Tests as captain. He also has the most runs by an England captain on an India tour, breaking the 51-year record set by Ted Dexter, who was honoured by the Cricket Association of Bengal at the start of this Test.

Cook was helped by a surface that offered little to the bowlers, a lightning outfield, and by what could prove one of the costliest mistakes of the series - Cheteshwar Pujara, fielding at first slip instead of his usual short leg, had a low chance from Cook but perhaps hindered by the shin pads he had on, couldn't get down in time to clasp it. Cook was on 17 at that stage, and had survived a probing spell from India's quick bowlers.

After that, though, Cook was rarely under pressure. The effortless punches through cover made an appearance, the more powerful cuts were deployed against wide deliveries, and the spinners were attacked early on. In his 151th Test innings, Cook hit only his ninth six, launching R Ashwin, who was again unable to maintain a consistent line and length, over long-on. The sweep was used effectively against the spinners, quick singles were taken, and after a couple of hours of getting properly set, the scoring picked up in the last half hour before tea.

Despite the volume of runs he has made, Cook hasn't made a name as a quick run-getter in Tests, but he scored almost twice as much as his batting partner Nick Compton in their 165-run stand. The dawdling strike-rate didn't bother Compton, who watchfully played out everything thrown at him by the India attack. It was only after he was well set that he brought out some of his strokes, including a down-the-track swipe over Pragyan Ojha's head for six.

scoreboard

INDIA 1ST INNINGS:

(OVERNIGHT: 273-7):

G Gambhir c Trott b Panesar    60

V Sehwag run out    23

C Pujara b Panesar    16

S Tendulkar c Prior b Anderson    76

V Kohli c Swann b Anderson    6

Yuvraj Singh c Cook b Swann    32

MS Dhoni c Swann b Finn    52

R Ashwin b Anderson    21

Z Khan lbw b Panesar    6

I Sharma b Panesar    0

P Ojha not out    0

EXTRAS: (b 5, lb 13, w 5, nb 1)    24

TOTAL: (all out; 105 overs)    316

FOW: 1-47, 2-88, 3-117, 4-136, 5-215, 6-230, 7-268, 8-292, 9-296, 10-316

BOWLING: J Anderson 28-7-89-3, S Finn 21-2-73-1, M Panesar 40-13-90-4, G  Swann-16-3-46-1

ENGLAND 1ST INNINGS:

A Cook not out    136

N Compton lbw b Ojha    57

J Trott not out    21

EXTRAS: (nb 2)    2

TOTAL: (1 wicket; 73 overs)    216

FOW: 1-165

BOWLING: Z Khan 16-4-48-0, I Sharma 15-6-35-0, R Ashwin 23-4-68-0, P Ojha 19-4-65-1

End.