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Commanding Cook As England Squeeze Aussies Dry

PTI 04 Dec 2010, 17:40:30 IST
Adelaide, Dec 4: Alastair Cook again proved to be an immovable force to blunt Australia's bowlers and put England in a commanding position in the second Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday.

It was long hot day in the field with scant reward for the frazzled Australians as Cook continued to be the marathon man of the Ashes series with his second century.

England cruised past Australia's below-par first innings total of 245 some 23 overs before stumps and closed out the sweltering second day at 317 for two to hold a burgeoning 72-run lead.

Cook followed up his unbeaten 235 in Brisbane to be still there on 136 with Kevin Pietersen, not out on 85, threatening to unleash a big score on Sunday's third day.

The pair have put on an unbroken third wicket partnership of 141 runs.

Vice-captain Cook, displaying powers of concentration, has already amassed 438 runs in three innings in this series at an average of 438 and has spent all but 11 overs in the field in the first seven days of the series.

The Essex left-hander helped himself to four with a cut off ineffectual spinner Xavier Doherty to raise his 15th Test hundred and third against Australia.

Cook holds the revealing statistic of scoring his Test centuries before his 26th birthday, equal with Australian icon Don Bradman at the same age and only bettered by all-time leading Test runscorer Sachin Tendulkar of India.

The only time Cook looked in trouble came when he needed a review on 64 to bat on 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.

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.

He flicked a Ryan Harris lifter to midwicket where Michael Clarke claimed a diving two-handed catch.

Trott and Cook so far in this series have shared in partnerships totalling 502 runs after their record stand of 329 runs at the Gabba.

Trott survived after Doherty was well wide with his throw at the stumps from square leg when he was on six and he was dropped four runs later by Mike Hussey 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.

It continued Australia's wretched fielding in the series after putting down five catches in the drawn Brisbane Test.

The Australians, defending 245, their lowest Adelaide first innings total for 17 years, started well, removing Strauss.

Bollinger, recalled after being left out of the Gabba Test, struck with the third ball of his opening over when Strauss made a serious error of judgment and didn't offer a shot to be bowled for one.

Australia were dismissed off 85.5 overs 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. AFP