Third Test: Alastair Cook makes history as England take charge at Eden Gardens against India
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 07/12/12 4:33pm
It was a day of history in Kolkata as Alastair Cook became England's leading century maker, whilst leading his side into a commanding position in the third Test against India at 216-1 to trail by just 100 at the end of day two.
Cook moved out in front on his own on 23 Test centuries for England, eclipsing Wally Hammond's record from way back in 1939, which has been equalled by the likes of Geoff Boycott and Kevin Pietersen but had yet to be broken.
It was a third Test century for Cook on the bounce, his fifth in a row as Test captain, and it also saw him become the youngest player to reach 7,000 Test runs as he and fellow opener Nick Compton capitalised on bowling India out for 316 by building a solid first innings platform.
The 27-year-old finished the day on 136 not out while Compton made his maiden Test fifty in their first century stand together before he was trapped lbw by Pragyan Ojha for a solid if unspectacular 57 from 137 balls, but at 165-1 England had already consolidated the fine work done by the bowlers on a decent deck for batting.
Captain Cook was given an early lifeline when Zaheer Khan found an edge with the left-hander on just 17, but Cheteshwar Pujara dropped a relatively simple low catch at first slip - and from then on Cook was in more danger of being run out due to a collision with Compton than being prised out by the Indian bowling.
India added 43 to their overnight score but 316 still looked short on a decent track, and Cook and Compton had few problems making it to lunch at 22-0 before pushing on in a second session that yielded 99 runs, few chances of a wicket and some distinctly average fielding from the hosts.
Cook brought up his 7,000th Test run with his 88th of the day, making him the youngest in history as he will not turn 28 until Christmas Day, and soon after he completed that memorable 23rd century with a paddle sweep for three off Ravi Ashwin.
Cook's century came off 179 balls and included 14 fours and a six, with his record still only taking him to 10th in the all-time list of Test centuries in world cricket, but with still plenty more years ahead of him to climb up those rankings.
Compton's innings ended the following over, with Ojha eventually getting the wicket after umpire Rod Tucker looked to at first shake his head before raising the finger.
Jonathan Trott avoided a third first-innings duck in a row to keep Cook company until the close on 21, with his record-setting captain unbeaten on 136 and England just 100 runs behind with plenty of time and plenty of batting in hand to press home their advantage.
Earlier, India added 43 to their overnight score, with MS Dhoni doing his best to frustrate England's bowlers as the hosts made it beyond the 300-mark to make a more competitive total.
The India skipper was the last-man out, as he fell to a great catch by Graeme Swann off the bowling of Steve Finn, but not before he had reached 52.
Dhoni was able to protect No 11 Pragyan Ojha for long enough during a 20-run stand, which showed some fight in the home side as they scrapped around for those few extra runs.
Monty Panesar had taken the other two Indian wickets to fall, trapping Zaheer Khan leg before for six before bowling Ishant Sharma for a duck as he finished with figures of 4-90 as he again was England's best bowler.
James Anderson was next best with 3-89 despite having Khan dropped by Swann, but it was only a minor hiccup for England as they got him out right away as Panesar struck in the next over.
Don't miss any live and exclusive cricket coverage this festive season. Click here to visit Sky Sports' Festive Calendar