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Cook, Pietersen grind India, England stretch lead to 367

Written by: Staff
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Nagpur, Mar 4 (UNI) England's debutant opener Alastair Cook scored a brilliant maiden Test century and, in the company of hard-hitting Kevin Pietersen, flayed the Indian attack as the visitors stretched their overall lead to 367 on the fourth day of the first Test at the VCA ground here today.

By close of play on the fourth day, England had reached 297 for three wickets with Cook batting on 104 and Paul Collingwood unbeaten 36. England had earlier taken a 70-run first innings lead by dismissing India for 323 in reply to their first essay total of 393.

The depleted England side, who lost their regular captain Michael Vaughan and pace bowler Simon Jones to injury and vice captain Marcus Trescothick to 'personal reasons', showed what team work, determination and the will to fight can do to a side against an India team full of proven players and super stars.

England, excepting on the first day, have dominated all the other three days to reach this position.

Determination and fighting spirit was most aptly seen in the knock by 21-year-old Cook. He took to the challenge of playing on spinning tracks, not having played in the sub-continent before.

Though this wicket was more of a batsman's wicket, Cook survived the heat and bowling of two of the greatest spinners of this era in Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh to become only the 15th Englishman and 79th batsman worldwide to score a century on Test debut.

He made his unbeaten 104 from 248 balls which was studded with 12 hits to the fence.

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