sport

Duo claim historic milestones

Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen wrote a new chapter in English cricket history as both claimed record-equalling 22nd Test centuries.

Cook (122) and Pietersen (138no) have both drawn level with three all-time greats in Wally Hammond, Geoff Boycott and Colin Cowdrey as their country's most prolific centurions.

Aged 27 and 32 respectively, the current protagonists have significant power to add too.

In the more immediate term, Cook's second successive hundred against India - following his rearguard 176 in last week's defeat at Ahmedabad - and Pietersen's first since his summer of discontent and 'reintegration' put England on course for a significant first-innings lead in this second Test.

By lunch of day three at the Wankhede Stadium, their double-century stand had helped the tourists to 298 for four in reply to 327 all out.

Their prospects of levelling the four-match series were therefore beginning to look substantial.

Cook, out on his own with his fourth century in his first four Tests as captain after his two while standing in for Andrew Strauss in Bangladesh two-and-half years ago, reached three figures today with a cover-driven four off Harbhajan Singh.

It was the opener's 11th four, to add to a six on Saturday, from 236 balls.

Pietersen operated at a quicker tempo throughout in an innings which gave England telling impetus and truly rubber-stamped his return to the fold after his well-chronicled contract wrangles and disagreements with management and senior players.

Five minutes after Cook completed his century, Pietersen did likewise, from only 127 balls - with an impudent reverse-sweep just wide of slip off Harbhajan for his 15th four.

By his often exuberant standards, a controlled celebration followed - with much work still to do to ensure England make the most of their golden opportunity to gain a foothold in the series.

When Cook finally departed, via a faint edge behind in forward-defence as Ravichandran Ashwin found some turn, Pietersen jogged 30 yards down the wicket and past the stumps to voice his personal acknowledgment as the captain made his way off the pitch.

It was then incumbent, however, on him to help new batsman Jonny Bairstow survive until lunch.

He did all that could be expected on that score, only for Bairstow to poke a catch to silly-point off Pragyan Ojha (three for 95) midway through the final over of a session which had nonetheless gone England's way for the most part.