Ashes: Cook puts England in charge against Australia
Second Ashes Test, Adelaide: Australia 245 all out v England 317-2 (day two, stumps) Venue: Adelaide Oval Date: 3-7 December. Play starts 0000 GMT on 5 Dec Coverage: Listen live on Test Match Special on BBC Radio 4 LW, 5 live sports extra and online; live highlights and day's review on the
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Cook's knock was his 15th century for England
By Jon Barbuti
Alastair Cook hit an unbeaten 136 as England built a 72-run lead on day two of the second Test against Australia.
After his 235 not out in the first Test, Cook took his series aggregate to 438 with a chanceless knock as England reached 317-2 at the close.
The tourists made a bad start to the day when Andrew Strauss was bowled by Doug Bollinger playing no stroke.
But Jonathan Trott (78) and Kevin Pietersen (85 not out) helped Cook put them in a commanding position.
Once again, Australia's bowling attack was found wanting, with the seamers struggling to maintain a disciplined line and length and spinner Xavier Doherty unable to justify the faith shown in him by the selectors.
England will hope to bat long into day three at the Adelaide Oval to build a commanding lead but will be mindful that the match is following a similar course to the opening Test in which Australia held a 221-run advantage on first innings but were unable to force a victory.
With the new ball only three overs old, the home side need early wickets on the third morning. On the evidence of the series so far, however, it will need something special to dislodge Cook, who has batted for over 1,000 minutes since his last dismissal.
What marked out the 25-year-old's innings as something truly special was the way he avoided giving the bowlers even a glimmer of hope.
After Strauss went for one off the third ball of the morning, Trott should have been out before reaching double figures and Pietersen - perhaps forgivably after sitting padded up for a combined total of almost 10 hours in the two matches - took time to settle.
But Cook played to his strengths, flicking confidently through mid-wicket when the ball was on the stumps, despatching anything short and wide past point and anything overpitched through the covers, while remaining watchful at all times in defence.
It was a testament to his maturity that he was not discomfited by the shock departure of Strauss - the England skipper guilty of an appalling error of judgment as he chose not to play a straight ball from Bollinger which clipped the top of the stumps.
Trott had two early lives, a missed run out attempt followed by Michael Hussey's drop at gully when he had made only 10. It was an untimely mistake by Hussey given his remarks after the first day's play about the need for Australia to take any chances that came their way.
Had Trott gone early, Pietersen would have been exposed to the new ball, with an out-of-form Paul Collingwood waiting next. Instead, Ricky Ponting's side were to have a lot of time to ponder the what ifs.
Cook and Trott shared an unbroken stand of 329 in Brisbane and, by the time the latter clipped Ryan Harris to a diving Michael Clarke at mid-wicket, they had added another 173 runs, having spent a total of 574 minutes together at the crease over the two games.
Trott's exit did not bring Australia any respite, however, as Pietersen came out bristling with attacking intent and after an early false stroke off Doherty - the man chosen to exploit his supposed weakness against left-armers - he scored freely.
His half century, including a lofted drive over mid-on and glorious drives through the covers, came off 77 balls and while he went through the gears, Cook continued his serene progress to his third hundred in four Tests, passing 400 runs for the series on the way.
Among Australia's seamers, Harris at least bowled with some fire, but Bollinger, Peter Siddle and Shane Watson extracted nothing from an excellent batting wicket.
Part-time off-spinner Marcus North found some significant turn before the new ball was taken, good news for England's Graeme Swann, who could be the main weapon in their bid for victory if they can establish a sizeable lead.
Ponting must have wished he had a bowler of Swann's guile or James Anderson's penetration, which perhaps explained his decision to delay the new ball until six overs after it became available, despite Cook and Pietersen playing for stumps.
When, finally, it was taken Pietersen's riposte was typical as he collected boundaries off Harris and Bollinger to take England's total past 300. Cook faced a confident appeal from Harris in the final over, but the ball was clearly going to pass over the stumps and he survived.
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