Cook closes on double century as India wilt

Alastair Cook stroked his 19th test century as England’s ruthless batsmen amassed 456 for three on the second day of the third test against a weary-looking India on Thursday.

The prolific opener was 182 not out at the close having started the day on 27. Eoin Morgan was also unbeaten on 44 while captain Andrew Strauss fell for 87 off a no-ball that was not spotted, Kevin Pietersen made 63 and Ian Bell 34.

England sailed past India’s first innings 224 to lead by 232 runs at Edgbaston. With three days remaining and seven wickets in hand, the hosts are well placed to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the four-match series.

Cook moved ahead of David Gower, Michael Vaughan and Pietersen in the list of test centurions and is now level with Strauss and Len Hutton, with only five Englishmen in front of the trio.

“It’s always nice to score runs and especially pleasing when you haven’t scored in the last two tests,” Cook told reporters.

“It’s been frustrating not getting through that new ball and it was important that when I did I made it count.

“I did a bit of work last week to get myself into better positions as I might have been falling over slightly but the conditions in the last couple of tests have been very tough.”

The left hander batted for more than eight hours and faced 339 deliveries to extend a purple patch that now contains seven centuries in his last 13 tests.

It has been a chanceless innings albeit with a few boundaries off Cook’s edge.

India’s bowling was ineffective, lacking the control to halt England’s free scoring plus penetration on a pitch that has become increasingly easy to bat on.

The fielding also disappointed with Rahul Dravid dropping Bell on 30 at first slip off Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, who later spilled an easy catch at point off Ishant Sharma’s bowling when Morgan was on 17.

Dravid also dropped Morgan on 43 off Suresh Raina, another simple chance.

The ease of England’s run spree was demonstrated by the normally cautious Cook, who reverse-swept Amit Mishra for three just after lunch.