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England on 247-2 vs India, Cook hits 95

July 27, 2014

SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) — England captain Alastair Cook was dismissed on 95, an agonizing five runs short of his first century in 14 months, as the hosts finished day one of the third test against India on 247-2 at the Rose Bowl on Sunday.

Cook got the faintest of touches to a delivery from Ravindra Jadeja, and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni took the catch.

Gary Ballance then brought up his century off 189 balls when he cut Mohammed Shami for four. Ballance finished on 104 not out, becoming only the fifth England player to make three hundreds in his first six tests, as England enforced the advantage over India after winning the toss and electing to bat.

Ian Bell was 16 not out at stumps.

Opening batsman Sam Robson (26) fell in the opening session. He edged Shami to Jadeja at second slip.

The touch from Cook was so slight that India appealed desperately for confirmation from the umpire, hunting for a dismissal after a wicketless second session, and Cook was given out.

The dismay of the home crowd was obvious. With England fans eager to see him make his hundred, much of the crowd left the ground as their captain left the pitch.

But Cook has many reasons to feel encouraged. He exuded confidence as his innings progressed, with his footwork giving him more time to play his shots.

“Mixed feelings sums it up quite well,” Cook said. “It’s frustrating when you’re five runs short but if you were talking to me yesterday offering 95, I would have snapped your hand off.”

Cook’s technique at the crease did not signal an imminent return to form.

He could have fallen for a golden duck, nicking the first ball of the day from Bhuvneshwar Kumar toward the slips, but it did not carry.

Cook was then dropped on 15 when he edged debutant Pankaj Singh to Jadeja at third slip. With the ball at knee height, Jadeja should have taken the catch easily, but he spilled the ball as he hit the ground.

Cook made the most of his reprieve, displaying immense mental strength, and went on to make India pay for not taking its early opportunities.

The 95 is his highest score since his last century — 130 — for England 14 months ago against New Zealand at Headingley. He has also overtaken his critic Kevin Pietersen and David Gower to become England’s third highest test run scorer.

He brought up 50, his 36th half-century, by pulling a short delivery from Shami for two, and was cheered by the home crowd as if he had made a hundred. It was his first half-century in 10 innings.

“I have never experienced anything like that,” Cook said, admitting he was humbled by the support on show. “It would have been fantastic, that noise, if I had got a hundred but even bringing up the 50 was more than I normally get.”

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