Cook hundred takes England within sight of the summit
Tea: Third Test, day two, Edgbaston
Match score: India 224 (MS Dhoni 77; SCJ Broad 4-53, TT Bresnan 4-62); England 319-2 (AJ Strauss 87, AN Cook 129*, IR Bell 34, KP Pietersen 36) Full scorecard
Session score: England 162-2. England lead by 95 runs with eight wickets in hand. England win session
It’s a procession of good form now. England are building a one-innings fortress that will not be assailed. Alastair Cook has become architect-in-chief and looks far from sated.
If anything England is guilty of over-confidence – certainly in the middle order. Ian Bell batted with aggression that at times was reckless. Kevin Pietersen did much the same.
But it was fun to watch. Bell all grace and timing, cashing in on Ishant Sharma’s short and wide stuff; Kevin Pietersen at his bludgeoning best particularly against Amit Mishra.
It was Mishra who had taken the first wicket, bowling Strauss around his legs with a legbreak. Mishra had bowled a number of no balls – perplexing for a spinner off a short run – and, while Strauss was settling in to watch the rest of his batting line up dominate, the replays showed he’d been done by a no ball that went unspotted.
So Bell came and went – Dravid dropped him on 30 at first slip, then Praveen Kumar bowled him with a beauty. The Birmingham crowd love Ian Bell – he enjoyed the warmest ovation since Sachin Tendulkar walked out to bat yesterday – and they have warmed to Kumar for his effort and temperament, and they sense they might get a rise out him. It was a popular wicket.
Kevin Pietersen looked in aggressive, electric mood. He raced to 36 off 41 balls by tea, running hard between the wickets and hitting boundaries with huge power.
The wallpaper to all this excessive strokeplay is Alastair Cook, passing a diligent 100 – his 19th in Tests – with an almost apologetic single to midwicket. Cook’s first 40 runs were far from his most fluent, each a drop wrung out through sheer will.
Then the Australian Cook returned, the decisive footwork back and forward, the balance and the clean striking through the offside – when he hits it this well through the covers, you know he’s in form.
And to rub home that point, he pulled the penultimate (legitimate) ball from Sreesanth with such vigour that he seemed to say: “We’re not done. See you after tea.”
Edward Craig is the deputy editor of The Cricketer magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Cricketer_Ed