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ALASTAIR COOKS INDIA'S GOOSE.

Skipper's third successive ton powers England to 216/ 1on Day 2

DROPPEDon 17 by Cheteshwar Pujara off Zaheer Khan's bowling, all England skipper Alastair Cook did was put his head down and take a walk to the squareleg umpire. And that was the beginning of an error- free knock as he took full advantage of India's lacklustre bowling, hitting his 23rd century -- his third in a row -- to put England in command at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday.

At stumps on the second day of the third Test, the visitors were 216 for one with Cook 136) and Jonathan Trott ( 21) at the crease -- still trailing India's first innings total of 316 by 100 runs.

Cook and Nick Compton showed great application to once again show their Indian counterparts where they have been lacking. In complete contrast to the Indian batsmen, who kept edging and flashing right through their innings, there wasn't a single flashy stroke from the English openers. If at all there was one, it was Cook's edge that Pujara failed to grasp -- though it wasn't the easiest chance.

While Cook played the aggressor's role, Compton was more than happy to grind and take his time. The best part about their 165- run opening partnership was their eagerness to run the quick singles.

Compton ( 57), tried to be a little cheeky after reaching his maiden Test fifty and the paddle sweep he attempted off Pragyan Ojha missed his bat and found him legbefore- wicket, though the ball looked to have hit his gloves.

THE only sympathy that the listless Indian bowlers can garner is that the Eden wicket is best suited for batting on the second day. While James Anderson got the ball to reverse post the tea break the first day, troubling even the well- settled Sachin Tendulkar, India's quickies Ishant Sharma and Zaheer failed miserably.

Ishant kept bowling short and wide meat and drink someone of Cook's calibre -- and he was quick pounce on all them. The lanky pacer looked akin to a Monty Panesar finished with batsman trying to get back into form who edges a few, looks dodgy and hits a few stunning shots.

Ishant kept bowling off the radar and, once in a while, came up with one that troubled the batsman.

Cook, who surpassed 7,000 Test runs during this innings, handled even the spinners with elan. His decisive foot movement nullified any revolutions R Ashwin and Ojha imparted on the ball.

The duo looked a pale shadow of themselves, especially after being outshone by Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann.

Although Swann didn't live up to the expectations, Panesar looked like he has been bowling on Indian wickets for eternity, scalping four wickets in the India innings.

Any hopes India had of reaching the 350- run mark after starting the day at 273 for seven were cut short by Panesar.

If he beat Zaheer ( 6) for pace -- trapping him plumb in front with one that went on with the angle -- he tricked Ishant ( 0) with his flight and disturbed the stumps.

Dhoni did look to up the ante once last man Ojha joined him, but it was a little too late in the innings and he perished a ball after scoring his fifty, caught by Swann to give Steven Finn his first wicket of the match.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Dec 7, 2012
Words:572
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