England 'Cook' India's misery

Kolkata, Dec 6 (IANS) Skipper Alastair Cook led from the front with a fine unbeaten 80 as England consolidated their position on day two of the third cricket Test against India at the Eden Gardens here Thursday.

After restricting India to 316 in the morning, England raced to 121 for no loss at the tea break.

Cook (80 batting; 142b 11x4 1x6) was steadily heading towards his third century of the series, with a stoutly defending Nick Compton (41 batting; 110b 4x4 1x6) acting the perfect foil, as the tourists notched up 99 runs in the post lunch session.

England are now 195 adrift of the Indian total.

England consolidated on their cautious start post lunch and continued grinding runs as the host bowlers looked nowhere near threatening.

With pitch playing true, the Indian bowlers struggled to make inroads. The only chance that came India's way was in the 20th over, but Cheteswar Pujara at first slip could not hold an edge from Cook, then on 17. Zaheer Khan was the unlucky bowler.

Cook, who has so far amassed over 400 runs in the series, continued his dominance with the bat, reaching a fluent 50 of 87 balls in the 27th over with nine fours and a towering six of Ravichandran Ashwin.

While the rest of the Indian bowlers failed to put any impression, Dhoni for some reasons held back Pragyan Ojha, by far the best Indian bowler in the series, till the 26th over. Ojha has taken 14 wickets in the first two Tests.

Cook and Compton attacked the Indian spinners, not allowing them to settle down.

Earlier Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit his 27th Test half-century after India resumed at the overnight score of 273/7.

But England bowlers took the three remaining wickets in quick time to hold back the hosts from getting to a sizeable total.

Steven Finn dismissed Dhoni at 52 (114b 5x4 2x6) to end the Indian innings, 62 minutes into the morning session. The skipper batted well with the tail to continue his good run at the hallowed stadium where he has scored two of his Test centuries.

With wickets falling at the other end, Dhoni upped the ante and hit consecutive sixes of Panesar and in the process brought the team's 300 in the 98th over.

Panesar, the first Sikh to play for England, had devastated India in the previous Test in Mumbai, and continued to do the good work in the morning, sending back Zaheer Khan (6) and Ishant Sharma (0) in successive overs.

Panesar (4-90) emerged as the most successful bowler while James Anderson returned with figures of 3-89, including the wicket of Tendulkar.

For the Indians, Sachin top scored with a gutsy 76, thereby surpassing a personal milestone of 34,000 international runs on day one Wednesday. Gautam Gambhir's gritty 60 was the other major contribution.

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