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Page last updated at 15:33 GMT, Monday, 28 December 2009

Alastair Cook ton helps England ahead in second Test

Second Test, Durban:
South Africa 343 v England 386-5 (day three, stumps)
Play resumes Tuesday: 0730 GMT

Coverage: Listen to Test Match Special on BBC Radio Four Longwave, Radio 5 live sports extra, the Red Button and BBC Sport website; text commentary online and on mobile phones. Also live on Sky Sports
Match scorecard

By Jamie Lillywhite

Alastair Cook
Cook displayed great shot selection in a highly disciplined innings

Alastair Cook's determined 10th Test century helped England to end day three of the second Test 43 ahead at 386-5.

The 25-year-old, in his 50th Test, resumed on 31 out of 103-1 and scored only one run in the first 12 overs.

Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen went before lunch but Cook, who was given out on 64 but reprieved by a referral, made his first Test hundred since May.

Cook shared 142 in 271 balls with Paul Collingwood, who made a calm 91, while Ian Bell returned to form with 55.

When Pietersen was out England were still 188 behind the South Africans but by the time Cook's classical opening batsman's innings ended the deficit was just 46.

The Essex left-hander made an unbeaten century on his Test debut in India in March 2006 and had six hundreds to his name by the time of his 17th match.

But prior to this game, in his 25 Tests in the last two calendar years Cook reached three figures only twice, both of which were against the West Indies, although he averaged a healthy 41 in that period.

His century came from 218 balls and to 67 of those he offered no shot, patiently refusing the deliveries around the off-stump that might have led to his dismissal.

There were concerns that the scoring would grind to a halt with Cook and Collingwood but it was a perfectly paced rearguard.

It was also crucial after the earlier start to compensate for loss of play did little for England's cause, with only 10 runs added and the departure of Trott in the extra half an hour.

Kevin Pietersen
England's position looked precarious when Pietersen was out

Morne Morkel had bowled probing lines, and with the seventh ball of the day Trott was lured into playing outside the off-stump by an excellent delivery that seamed away, caught the edge and was gratefully snaffled by wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, diving to his right.

As is predominantly the case, attention focused on Pietersen, in his first Test innings on what was once his home ground.

He took nine balls to get off the mark but did so in style with a trademark whip through to the mid-wicket boundary off Morkel.

The fast bowler was taken off after just three overs and bowled only one more before lunch.

With Jacques Kallis innocuous at half-pace, Pietersen was able to work him through the leg-side with ease as if he were a spinner in the middle overs of a one-day match, but on 20 he was reprieved, with Kallis once again the man at fault.

Attempting a forcing shot off the back foot, Pietersen edged slow left-armer Paul Harris at comfortable catching height to Kallis at slip but the ball slipped through his hands.

Next ball Cook completed his resolute fifty from 136 balls but to the next one after that Pietersen was gone.

As in the first Test it was a rash moment that ended the master batsman's innings, and it was so adjacent that Cook confirmed to his partner there was no point even asking for a referral.

This time it was not a run out but an ill-advised stroke, attempting a sweep at one that was too straight and too full from Harris, the much-maligned slow bowler collecting his eighth wicket of the series.

Cook's one major alarm came when he was given out caught at short-leg off the occasional off-spin of JP Duminy.

606: DEBATE
locohero

The left-hander was convinced he had made no contact and referred the decision, which, despite the lack of the more advanced snickometer and hot-spot to detect edges, showed enough for TV official Steve Davis to inform umpire Amiesh Saheba that he should keep Cook at the crease.

Collingwood brought up the 200 in the 65th over with a delightful drive to the cover boundary and the fifty stand between the pair arrived in 109 balls, Cook's contribution 32.

Harris often aborted his short run to the crease because of difficulty with the gusting cross wind, and was put away to the fence by both batsmen in the same over, prompting skipper Graeme Smith to take him out of the attack and reluctantly recall the incapacitated Kallis.

With the bowlers unable to build pressure the century partnership came from 194 balls and was recorded by a deft glance for four from Collingwood, who contributed 47 and soon recorded his 18th Test fifty.

Steyn, well short of his top pace and missing the devastating late away swing, had spells with the new ball either side of tea with Morkel.

After more than 400 minutes at the crease, Cook finally nibbled at one from Morkel that nipped away outside off-stump, Kallis relieved to take the low catch at second slip.

Bell, as ever fighting for his place, had to withstand some testing deliveries from Morkel but then despatched two short long-hops from the even more under pressure Makhaya Ntini to the boundary, and soon had the confidence to launch Harris over long-on for six.

Even when Collingwood got a bottom edge off Duminy, Bell maintained the fluent strokes in a stylish 22nd Test fifty.

Kallis returned with a much improved spell late in the day, finding some swing and the occasional sharper ball, one surprising Matt Prior who fended to short-leg where Hashim Amla spilled the chance.

With Bell and Prior still at the crease and the weather set fair for day four, England will be confident of pushing on to build a sizeable advantage.



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see also
Cook praises batting coach Gooch
28 Dec 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
28 Dec 09 |  England
Ntini 'in S Africa team on merit'
28 Dec 09 |  South Africa
England begin solid Durban reply
27 Dec 09 |  England
Late wickets give England boost
26 Dec 09 |  England
England scrape draw in first Test
20 Dec 09 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
England in South Africa 2009-10
17 Jan 10 |  England


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