Home Sport Alastair Cook’s unbeaten century drives England’s strong fightback

Alastair Cook’s unbeaten century drives England’s strong fightback

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Former skipper ends a drought of 10 innings without a half-century by bringing up his 32nd Test ton.

AT LONG LAST: Alastair Cook of England reacts after scoring a century on day two of the Boxing Day Test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday.

Alastair Cook’s unbeaten century on the back of Stuart Broad’s four-wicket haul put England in a strong position against Australia on the second day of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne yesterday.

Having lost the first three Tests and surrendered the Ashes, England bounced back strongly with Cook and Broad silencing critics who questioned their place in the side.

As Australia resumed on 244/3, Broad picked up 4/ 51 to send the host crashing to 327 all out. He was aided by James Anderson, his new-ball partner who ended with figures of 3/61.

Cook then took charge, ending a drought of 10 innings without a half-century by bringing up his 32nd Test ton.

At the close of play, England was 192/2 and trailing by 135 runs. Cook was unbeaten on 104 and Joe Root, the captain, provided support on 49 in a 112-run partnership.

Cook was dropped on 66 by a juggling Steve Smith, the rival captain, at first slip off Mitchell Marsh.

But apart from the drop, he looked in control for the most part of his innings, despite having scored just 83 runs in his previous six innings of the series.

Cook and Mark Stoneman started the innings solidly before Nathan Lyon dismissed the latter for 15 with a one-handed catch to his right off his own bowling.

Josh Hazlewood then trapped James Vince leg before wicket for 17, though there was no further joy for Australia as Cook and Root dug in.

Incredible run

Earlier in the day, Smith’s incredible run in Melbourne came to an end as the visitor bowled out Australia just after lunch, taking the last seven wickets for 67 runs.

Smith had not been dismissed in a Melbourne Test match since Boxing Day Test in 2014 and was looking good for his third century of the series on a batsman-friendly MCG pitch. In the last three Boxing Day Tests, Smith scored 192 against India, 134 not out against Windies and an unbeaten 165 last year against Pakistan.

By the end of his innings, Smith had scored 502 runs in the series at a Bradmanesque average of 125.50.

It was an overdue slice of luck for Curran, who had David Warner caught on 99 on the first day only to have the dismissal overturned for an overstepping no-ball.

Warner was eventually dismissed for 103.

England benefitted from its tactic of bowling wide outside off-stump when Mitchell Marsh also dragged on a Chris Woakes delivery for nine.

Shaun Marsh was trapped leg before wicket for 61 by Broad. The batsman chose to review the decision only to see the on-field decision being upheld.

Tim Paine became the third batsman to drag on to his stumps for 24 off Anderson, while Jackson Bird was trapped in front by Broad for four.

Broad then dismissed Cummins for four, caught in the slips, before Anderson ended the innings by getting Lyon out lbw for a duck.

African News Agency