Cook, Balance feast on Indian bowling


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Skipper Alastair Cook marked his return to form with a dogged 95 while youngster Gary Ballance hit his second successive century as England reached a comfortable 247 for two against India on the opening day of the third Test at Southampton.

The highlight of the day was Cook's dour batting after getting reprieve on 15 when Ravindra Jadeja dropped a sitter at third slip off debutant Pankaj Singh's bowling.

Cook, who missed out on a 26th Test century by five runs, has now gone without a three-figure mark in 29 consecutive innings.

Once he got a 'life', decided to grind it out as he played 231 balls hitting nine fours frustrating a pedestrian Indian attack in the process.

Cook added 158 runs with the in-form Ballance who struck his third Test century, and second on trot against the visitors remaining unbeaten on 104 at the end of day's play.

At stumps on a rather disappointing day for Indians, veteran Ian Bell gave Ballance company, batting on 16.