sport

Cook reaches century landmark

Alastair Cook became England's most prolific Test centurion when he completed his 23rd - and third in successive matches - at Eden Gardens.

Cook (101 not out) is also the youngest batsman in history to 7,000 runs, a milestone he passed with his 88th on the second afternoon of the third Test as he and Nick Compton consolidated England's advantage over India.

By the time Cook reached his hundred, a fifth in consecutive Tests as captain dating back to his time as Andrew Strauss' deputy in Bangladesh almost three years ago, the tourists were 156 without loss in reply to 316 all out.

Cook's latest hundred inches him one ahead of team-mate Kevin Pietersen - as well as three other greats in Geoffrey Boycott, Wally Hammond and Colin Cowdrey.

He is still only joint-20th in an all-time list headed by India's own Sachin Tendulkar on 51, but at the age of 27 should have many years ahead of him to move up the table.

Compton was finally out for 57, lbw to Pragyan Ojha, shortly after Cook had reached three figures, although umpire Rod Tucker appeared to shake his head before raising his finger.

England's openers needed a little fortune to go with their skill, against pace and spin, as they turned a fourth 50 stand in succession into their first century together.

Cook was dropped on 17 when he edged Zaheer Khan low to slip, where Cheteshwar Pujara could not hold the catch.

Cook duly reached his 179-ball century with a leg glance off Ojha - having hit one memorable straight six off Ravichandran Ashwin as well as 14 fours.

Compton had fewer obvious scoring options but also profited from using his feet, hitting Ojha for a six of his own over long on, on his way to a maiden Test 50 in 123 balls.

Monty Panesar had earlier finished with four for 90, to add to his 11 wickets in the series-levelling win in Mumbai, as England picked up the last three Indian wickets for 43 runs this morning - despite some late belligerence from Mahendra Singh Dhoni (52).

Dhoni made his intent clear immediately, up the wicket to the second ball of the day to crunch James Anderson past mid off.

His overnight partner Zaheer was dropped by Graeme Swann off Anderson, but was soon gone anyway - lbw to a Panesar arm ball.

Panesar also made short work of Ishant Sharma, but the last-wicket pair frustrated England for more than half an hour.

Ojha made no runs, but kept out 19 balls, allowing Dhoni to club Panesar for successive sixes over long off and long on as England brought the field up for the final two deliveries of one over.

The cat and mouse continued, with four consecutive maidens at one point, and until Cook had to rest Anderson for Steven Finn.

It was a change which brought Dhoni's 50, with his fifth four from 113 balls crashed past cover, but then the end too when the India captain gloved Finn and Swann did well to make ground from slip to complete a diving catch.