Alastair Cook hit back-to-back centuries to lift England to a 72-run lead over Australia with eight wickets in hand in the second Ashes cricket Test.
Cook, who scored a career-best 235 not out in the drawn series opener in Brisbane, struck an unbeaten 136 at the Adelaide Oval and shared hundred partnerships with Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen, who both made half-centuries.
Cook’s 15th Test century helped England stay on top after Andrew Strauss’s team yesterday dismissed Australia for 245, its lowest first-innings total in Adelaide for 17 years. Cook and Pietersen will resume day three with the score at 317-2.
“We are in a really good position now but it’s only day two,” Cook said at a news conference. “It’s important that we keep battling tomorrow and get through that first half-hour and focus on getting a really big score.”
England’s batsmen backed up the bowling effort to keep Australia in the field all day as temperatures reached as high as 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit) at the Adelaide Oval.
The Australians, seeking to regain the Ashes following last year’s 2-1 series loss in the U.K., have now taken just three English wickets in their last 241 overs. The best-of-five contest is tied at 0-0 after England rallied from a 221-run first-innings deficit to draw in Brisbane.
“Everything seems to be going England’s way at the moment,” Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin told reporters. “We’ve got to make sure we come out over the next three days and fight.”
Cook and Trott, who shared an unprecedented 329-run stand at the Gabba, added 173 for the second wicket after Strauss got out to the third ball of the day when he didn’t play at a Doug Bollinger delivery that clipped the top of off stump.
Trott, who was nearly run out by Xavier Doherty on 6 and dropped by Mike Hussey and Haddin on 10 and 76, made 78 before flicking a Ryan Harris delivery to midwicket where Michael Clarke claimed a diving two-handed catch.
Cook and Trott took their partnership tally to 502 across two innings after they lifted England to a record 517-1 in its second innings in the first Test.
Pietersen joined Cook in the middle and they took the score to 198-2 at tea. Cook, who successfully appealed against a decision for caught behind when on 64, brought up his century with a cut shot after the break and the pair batted through the final session to lift their unbeaten stand to 141 runs.
Cook Cashes In
Cook hit 17 boundaries today in lifting his tally to 438 runs in his three innings so far in the series. Cook, 25, has scored 15 Test hundreds before his 26th birthday, matching Australian icon Don Bradman and only bettered by India’s Sachin Tendulkar, the all-time leading Test run-scorer.
“At tea I was quite tired,” Cook said. “At 37 degrees it’s up there with one of the hottest days I’ve played cricket in, but you have to cash in when you’re in this kind of form.”
Pietersen, England’s leading run-scorer in Australia four years ago, struck 13 boundaries in his 85 not out.
England fast bowler James Anderson took 4-51 and spinner Graeme Swann 2-70 yesterday as Australia was bowled out before stumps after winning the toss. It was the home team’s worst performance in the first innings at Adelaide since being skittled out by the West Indies for 213 in 1993.
Australia has won the last three meetings between the teams at the Adelaide Oval, where England’s last victory came in 1995.
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