Alastair Cook again proved to be an immovable force, blunting Australia’s bowlers to put England in a commanding position in the second Test at the Adelaide Oval yesterday.
The frazzled Australians endured a long hot day of toil in the field for scant reward as Cook continued to be the marathon man of the Ashes series, scoring his second century.
England cruised past Australia’s below-par first innings total of 245, some 23 overs before stumps and finished the sweltering second day at 317 for two, a lead of 72.
Cook followed up his unbeaten 235 in Brisbane to end the day on 136 with Kevin Pietersen, not out on 85, threatening to unleash a big score on today’s third day.
The pair have so far put on 141 runs together for the third wicket.
Vice-captain Cook, displaying immense powers of concentration, has amassed 438 runs in three innings in this series for one dismissal and has spent all but 11 overs on the field in the first seven days of the series.
“It was excellent conditions to bat in today, 37°C and a good wicket to bat on,” Cook said.
“It was important to make the most of what our bowlers did yesterday. It was fantastic effort to dismiss them for 245,” he said. “We are in a really good position now, but it’s only day two so there’s a lot of cricket left as we showed last week you can fight back.”
The Essex left-hander helped himself to four with a cut off ineffectual spinner Xavier Doherty to reach his ton, his third against Australia.
Cook has now scored 15 Test centuries before the age of 26, equaling the achievement of Australian legend Don Bradman. Only India’s Sachin Tendulkar, the leading Test run-scorer of all time, managed more, reaching three figures 19 times before his 26th birthday. Cook will turn 26 on Dec. 25.
The only time Cook looked in trouble came when he needed a review on 64 to survive after he was given out caught behind attempting to hook Peter Siddle in the 43rd over.
Replays showed that the ball hit Cook’s arm rather than his bat and umpire Marais Erasmus reversed his decision.
“England are in a very good position, but the important thing for us is to make sure we stay in the fight,” Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin said.
“Test cricket is never easy and we have our backs to wall and we’re in for a real fight.”
Australia had early joy with the wicket of skipper Andrew Strauss in the day’s opening over, but apart from Jonathan Trott’s dismissal for 78 before tea it was unquestionably England’s day.
Cook and Trott put on 173 runs for the second wicket to kill off Australia’s hopes of containing England’s innings lead.
Trott had three lives before his luck finally ran out in the 49th over when he flicked a Ryan Harris lifter to a diving Michael Clarke at midwicket.
The No. 3 batsman had looked on course for his third century in as many Ashes Tests after his 119 at the fifth Test at The Oval last year and 135 in Brisbane last week.
Trott and Cook so far in this series have shared in partnerships totaling 502 runs after their record stand of 329 runs at the Gabba.
Doherty had a chance to run Trott out on six, but his throw was well wide and the batsman enjoyed more luck four runs later when Mike Hussey dropped him in the gully off Doug Bollinger.
Trott got his third life on 76 when wicketkeeper Brad Haddin fumbled a high two-handed chance down the leg-side off a Harris bouncer to continue the home side’s wretched fielding in the series.
The normally reliable Australians put down five catches in the drawn Test in Brisbane.
The day started well for Australia when Bollinger removed Strauss with the third ball of the day as the England skipper inexplicably offered no shot to the left-armer and was bowled for one.
Australia were rattled out for 245 after winning the toss on Friday’s opening day, their worst performance in the first innings at Adelaide since being skittled by the West Indies for 213 in 1993.
England have now amassed 834 runs in the last two innings of the series for the loss of just three wickets.
SRI LANKA VS WINDIES
Reuters, KANDY, Sri Lanka
The persistent rain that has dogged the third and final Test continued to thwart Sri Lanka’s attempts to bowl West Indies out in their first innings yesterday as the match drifted towards a tame draw.
The first two tests of the three-match series were also affected by bad weather before ending in draws and with only one day remaining in the third, a similar stalemate appears to be a formality.
Only nine minutes of play was possible in the afternoon following a truncated morning session and with more rain falling, the umpires halted proceedings at tea with West Indies having added just 59 runs to their overnight total to be 303-8.
Sulieman Benn was unbeaten on 29 and Kemar Roach on 12 after the hosts had taken three wickets in between the downpours.
After the third day had been washed out completely, only 69 minutes play was possible in the morning session yesterday, allowing the West Indies to advance their total to 297-8.
Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath grabbed three wickets for 11 runs off 30 balls in that period to swing the balance towards the home team before the interruption.
Herath got rid of Brendan Nash for 67, the batsman inside edging a sweep to wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene, and then trapped both Carlton Baugh (2) and skipper Darren Sammy (8) LBW to head to lunch with figures of 4-54 off 22 overs.
Ajantha Mendis was the only other bowler used in the rain-shortened session and kept one end tight by conceding 27 runs in 10 overs.
So far, only 103.3 overs out of a possible 360 have been bowled on the first four days of the Test.
INDIA VS NEW ZEALAND
Reuters, VADODARA, India
Stand-in captain Gautam Gambhir hit a second consecutive unbeaten century to lead India to a nine-wicket win and series victory against New Zealand with two one-day internationals to spare yesterday.
The left-handed opener followed up Wednesday’s unbeaten 138 with an attacking 126 not out, his ninth century in ODIs, in the third of the five-match series at the Reliance Stadium.
Chasing a below-par 225-run target, the hosts achieved it with more than 10 overs to spare. Virat Kohli (63) swiped the winning runs with a massive six.
Gambhir, named captain after the Indian selectors decided to rest senior players including regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, stitched together a quick-fire 115-run opening partnership with Murali Vijay (30) to set the tone for an easy chase.
Vijay was run out while trying to steal a quick single, New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori’s direct hit finding him way short of his crease.
Earlier, Gambhir won the toss and asked the visitors to bat first to allow his pacemen the opportunity to use the moisture on offer owing to an early morning start.
Left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan, making a comeback after recovering from a groin injury, struck early to pick up the prized scalps of Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor.
The visitors never recovered from those early blows as off-spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Yusuf Pathan made regular breakthroughs to pick up two wickets apiece.
A 94-run eighth wicket partnership between all-rounder James Franklin (72 not out) and tailender Nathan McCullum (43) gave the New Zealand total some -respectability after they were reduced to 106-7 at one stage.
The last two ODIs will be played at Bangalore and Chennai on Tuesday and Friday, respectively.
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