Cook breaks records and Indian hearts as England take command of the third Test thanks to skipper's 23rd Test century
11:13 GMT, 6 December 2012
Alastair Cook became England's most prolific Test centurion when he completed his 23rd – and third in successive matches – at Eden Gardens today.
Cook (136 not out) is also the youngest batsman in history to 7,000 runs, a milestone he passed with his 88th this afternoon as he and Nick Compton took control in an opening stand of 165 on day two of the third Test against India.
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In command: Record-breaker Alastair Cook (right) and Nick Compton (left)
Cook was dropped on 17 when he edged Zaheer Khan low to slip, where Cheteshwar Pujara could not hold the catch.
Otherwise, though, the most likely mode of dismissal appeared to be a run-out as Cook and his apprentice partner took chances with scampered singles and more than once were in danger of mid-wicket collisions as they kept holding the same line.
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There were to be no such mishaps, though, and Cook duly reached his 179-ball century with a leg-glance off Ravichandran Ashwin – having previously also hit the off-spinner for one memorable straight six to go with his 14 fours.
Compton (57) had fewer obvious scoring options but also profited from using his feet, hitting Pragyan Ojha for a six of his own over long-on, on his way to a maiden Test half-century in 123 balls.
Grandson of Denis, and two years Cook's senior, Compton therefore claimed a notable milestone of his own – albeit on a reduced scale to his captain's – before Ojha got his revenge.
Awesome foursome: Monty Panesar (left) took another two wickets on day two
Cook was safely past his hundred when Compton missed an attempted sweep at the slow left-armer and was, eventually, given out lbw by umpire Rod Tucker just as the batsmen completed what they thought by then was a leg-bye.
Jonathan Trott had made two ducks in his last three Test innings, but did enough here to help Cook consolidate an advantage which gives England clear prospects of pushing for a second successive win over their hosts.
Monty Panesar had earlier finished with four for 90, to add to his 11 wickets in the series-levelling victory in Mumbai, as England picked up the last three Indian wickets for 43 runs this morning – despite some late belligerence from Mahendra Singh Dhoni (52).
The home captain made his intent clear immediately, up the wicket to the second ball of the day to crunch James Anderson past mid-off.
His overnight partner Zaheer was dropped by Graeme Swann off Anderson, but was soon gone anyway – lbw to a Panesar arm ball.
Thinking to do: India captain MS Dhoni hit a half-century but is now under the cosh
Panesar also made short work of Ishant Sharma, but the last-wicket pair frustrated England for more than half an hour.
Ojha made no runs but kept out 19 balls, allowing Dhoni to club Panesar for successive sixes over long-off and long-on as England brought the field up for the final two deliveries of one over.
The cat-and-mouse continued, with four consecutive maidens at one point, until Cook had to rest Anderson for Steven Finn.
It was a change which brought Dhoni's 50, with his fifth four from 113 balls crashed past cover, but then the end too when he gloved the next ball and Swann did well to make ground from slip to complete a diving catch.
England had done well to restrict Dhoni's attempt to alter the momentum of a match which was to swing still further the tourists' way thanks to the next historic tour de force from Cook's remorseless repertoire.
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