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Last Updated: Friday, 28 July 2006, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
Cook & Bell put England in charge
England 461-9 dec v Pakistan 119 & 12-0

Alastair Cook
Cook hit a career-best 127 - his third Test ton
Alastair Cook and Ian Bell hit centuries as England took a huge first innings lead over Pakistan on day two of the second Test at Old Trafford.

Cook made a career-best 127 and Bell finished 106 not out as England declared on 461-9, with a lead of 342.

Cook and Paul Collingwood (48) added 119 and Bell put on 73 with Steve Harmison, who made 26.

But Harmison left the field after bowling a single over, with pain in his side, as Pakistan reached 12-0.

Unlike Lord's a fortnight ago, England captain Andrew Strauss did not immediately declare once Bell reached three figures.


Even when Harmison fell, to guffaws, top-edging a reverse-sweep, he asked Monty Panesar to face seven deliveries before calling him back in.

They must have hoped for a Pakistan wicket before stumps but Harmison was clearly in pain after his first delivery and Matthew Hoggard struggled to find his line.

Farhat overcame the pain of an injured finger, suffered when he caught Kevin Pietersen at gully off the second legitimate delivery of the day, to open the innings.

Just as at Lord's, Cook and Bell hit contrasting centuries, with Bell's the most assured.

Ian Bell celebrates
Bell had made just 19 when he began batting with the tail

Cook, who marched smartly to 65 on day one, was becalmed by the loss of Pietersen, dispatched by Umar Gul without adding to his overnight 38.

There were a couple of false shots from left-hander Cook to accompany a textbook straight drive early on.

Shahid Afridi's introduction made him sweat before reaching three figures from the 208th ball he faced, with a nudge on the off side.

The square drive and pull down the ground that followed by way of celebration in the same over were the two best shots of the day.

Bell had made just 19 when Geraint Jones, England's last recognised batsman, was lbw to Mohammad Sami for eight as he tried to decide between a pull and a forward defensive.

But he managed to retain his usual classical style, with some sumptuous shots through the off side, while scoring at a brisk rate, his ton coming from just 127 balls.

Collingwood has been a constant companion when seven-Test veteran Cook has reached three figures in Tests, at Nagpur and Lord's before this one.

The duo set up the opening Test with a doughty partnership of 233 and started in similar fashion before settling in.

Collingwood lofted spinner Danish Kaneria for six over long on to take the lead into three figures and repeated the feat soon afterwards.

Pakistan's pace bowling, unimpressive on Thursday, stuck to its task well, and was rewarded when the second new ball became available, but then ran out of steam.

In the space of seven overs, Collingwood pulled Gul straight to square leg, Cook fell lbw and Jones was out cheaply once again.

Much has been made of England's lengthy tail in the absence of a regular number eight batsman but the whole tail applied themselves.

Sajid Mahmood managed a straight drive for four before he was caught off the splice of the bat, while Matthew Hoggard showed a penchant for sweeping in a 30-ball six.

Harmison followed his day one bowling heroics with some lusty slogs and sweeps to keep the pressure off Bell as he moved into three figures.

Much will rest on the Durham man's fitness if England are not to let the tourists off the hook for the second Test in succession.

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