KOLKATA – It was a day of history in Kolkata as Alastair Cook became England’s leading century maker, whilst leading his side into a commanding position in the third Test against India, finishing at 216 for 1 to trail by just 100 at the end of day two at Eden Gardens today.†
Cook moved out in front on his own on 23 Test centuries for England, eclipsing Wally Hammond’s record from way back in 1939, which has been equalled by the likes of Geoff Boycott and Kevin Pietersen but had yet to be broken.
It was a third Test century for Cook on the bounce, his fifth in a row as Test captain, and it also saw him become the youngest player to reach 7,000 Test runs as he and fellow opener Nick Compton capitalised on bowling India out for 316 by building a solid first innings platform.
The 27-year-old finished the day on 136 not out while Compton made his maiden Test fifty in their first century stand together before he was trapped lbw by Pragyan Ojha for a solid, if unspectacular, 57 from 137 balls, but at 165-1 England had already consolidated the fine work done by the bowlers on a decent deck for batting.
Captain Cook was given an early lifeline when Zaheer Khan found an edge with the left-hander on just 17, but Cheteshwar Pujara dropped a relatively simple low catch at first slip – and from then on Cook was in more danger of being run out due to a collision with Compton than being prised out by the Indian bowling.
India added 43 to their overnight score but 316 still looked short on a decent track, and Cook and Compton had few problems making it to lunch at 22-0 before pushing on in a second session that yielded 99 runs, few chances of a wicket and some distinctly average fielding from the hosts.
Cook brought up his 7,000th Test run with his 88th of the day, making him the youngest in history as he will not turn 28 until Christmas Day, and soon after he completed that memorable 23rd century with a paddle sweep for three off Ravi Ashwin.
Cook’s century came off 179 balls and included 14 fours and a six, with his record still only taking him to 10th in the all-time list of Test centuries in world cricket, but with still plenty more years ahead of him to climb up those rankings.
Compton’s innings ended the following over, with Ojha eventually getting the wicket after umpire Rod Tucker looked to at first shake his head before raising the finger.
Earlier MS Dhoni reached 52 and Monty Panesar finished with 4 for 90 in the Indian innings. (Sky)