KOLKATA: Skipper Alastair Cook created history by cracking his 23rd Test century, the most by an Englishman, and his third consecutive one in the series as England took complete control of the third cricket Test against a listless India here yesterday.
Cook remained unbeaten on a brilliant 136 to lay the platform for a mammoth first innings total as the visitors cruised to a comfortable 216 for one at close on the second day.
In reply to India’s first innings score of 316, England put up a solid batting display and rode on a 165-run opening stand between Cook and Nick Compton (57) as Indian bowlers had a disappointing day.
Currently England need another 101 runs with nine wickets in hand to take the first innings lead and consolidate the position from there on.
Having scored his 23rd Test ton which is highest by any English batsmen, Cook also created a world record of notching five centuries from the five Test matches as captain.
The England captain led from the front as he struck a six and 19 boundaries in his nearly five hour long undefeated stay at the crease and became the youngest batsman to go past 7000 Test runs at the age of 27 years 347 days, eclipsing Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 28 years and 193 days.
In his sparkling innings, Cook gave a solitary chance while on 17, when he was dropped by Cheteshwar Pujara of the bowling of Zaheer Khan — a miss that eventually proved too costly for the Indians and it will be difficult to bounce back in the series which is leveled 1-1.
Hughes for Ponting
Meanwhile, Phil Hughes has been recalled to the Australia squad to replace the retired Ricky Ponting for the start of the three-test series against Sri Lanka next week.
The 24-year-old Hughes was preferred to Usman Khawaja, Rob Quiney and Alex Doolan as the fresh batsman for the Dec. 14 Test at Hobart to fill the void left by 168-test veteran Ponting, who retired after the loss to No. 1-ranked South Africa in Perth on Monday.
“There is no one out there that can replace Ricky Ponting,” Hughes said of the ex-Australia captain, who spent 17 years in the test arena and retired as the second most prolific batsmen ever in test cricket.
Hughes played the last of his 17 tests in a surprising loss to New Zealand at Hobart last December, but has switched states in the meantime, worked on deficiencies in his batting technique and has scored more than 500 runs for South Australia in the Sheffield Shield this season. He has scored 1,072 runs in test cricket at an average of 34.58, with three centuries.
“The sacrifices that I have made in the last 12 months have been quite big. I knew I had to do them ... so to me, I can go in there with a fresh mind,” Hughes told reporters in Adelaide. “I had to change a couple of things but I feel comfortable ... I have had chances before but I’m grateful for this one and I just hope I can really get in there and cement my spot.” Quiney, who was the domestic player of the year last season, played in both of the drawn tests against South Africa last month but only scored nine runs in Brisbane and had a pair of ducks in Adelaide.
He was dropped when vice-captain Shane Watson returned from injury for the deciding match in Perth.
Selection chairman John Inverarity revealed Hughes had been shielded from the South African bowling attack featuring Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, giving Quiney an opportunity at the highest level.
“We did feel that throwing (Hughes) in against the world No. 1 with their attack was probably not the ideal set of circumstances for him,” Inverarity said in a news conference in Perth, where the team was announced Thursday.
The left-handed Hughes has twice been dropped from the Australian team after a promising start to his international career in 2009 at South Africa, where he scored 75 in his debut test and followed up with hundreds in each innings of his second — becoming the youngest batsmen ever to post two centuries in a test match.
Inverarity said Hughes’ relatively young age was a factor in the selection.
“The national selection panel holds the view that he, having just turned 24, is a very significant part of the future,” Inverarity said. “He has received this call-up, his third, as it was considered to be the right time and circumstances for him to re-establish himself.