Ashes: Immovable Cook drives England into lead

Adelaide: Alastair Cook continued to defy Australia`s bowlers with a clinical unbeaten 136 to help drive England to a first-innings lead of 72 with eight wickets in hand after second day of the second Ashes Test on Saturday.

Cook, who made 235 not out in the second innings of the drawn first Test, looked immovable alongside Kevin Pietersen, who was unbeaten on 85, as England ended a blistering day at the Adelaide Oval on 317-2 in response to Australia`s 245.

The 25-year-old Cook pumped his fist in delight after bringing up his 15th Test century by cutting a terrible ball from spinner Xavier Doherty for four, summing up the contempt he showed to any loose bowling that came his way.

The left-hander`s one scare came when was given out caught behind off Peter Siddle on 65 but he indignantly demanded a review of the decision and television pictures confirmed the ball had grazed his upper arm.

Cook, who made 67 in his first innings at the Gabba, has been on the field for all but 68 balls of the entire Ashes series so far.

After England skipper Andrew Strauss was dismissed on the third ball of a blistering hot day at the Adelaide Oval, Cook and Jonathan Trott picked up where they left off in their unbeaten stand of 329 in the first Test.

When Trott, who had survived a couple of scares, was finally caught by Michael Clarke off the pace bowling of Ashes debutant Ryan Harris for 78, the England pair had combined for a total of 502 runs over the two Tests.

Doug Bollinger, recalled with Harris for this Test, had given the hosts a dream start by clean bowling Strauss for one run in the first over, delighting much of the packed house basking in the morning sun.

After that, though, the revamped Australia strike attack of Bollinger, Harris and Siddle laboured on a flat pitch in temperatures up to 37 degrees Celcius.

They got little help from their team mates as the Australians failed to grasp all but one of the few chances the increasingly confident English batsmen gave them.

Bollinger, steaming into bowl with protective white war paint daubed on his face, almost had a second scalp when Trott, on 10, sliced a drive to gully but Mike Hussey failed to hold a low catch.

Trott had already survived a earlier scare after a mix-up with Cook when he was on nine, but Doherty missed the wicket when a direct hit would have comfortably run the batsman out.

The 29-year-old got a third life when the ball nicked his glove as he attempted a hook off Harris but wicketkeeper Brad Haddin spilt a difficult high catch.

Pietersen, booed when he came out to bat after Trott`s exit, joined in the run-spree with relish and gave England the lead with three runs off Siddle before driving a four down to mid-on two balls later to bring up his 21st Test half century.

The former England captain scored 158 in the corresponding Test here on the ill-fated 2006-07 tour but England, who declared their first innings on 551, still managed to lose the match by six wickets.

That may be the sole crumb of comfort for the exhausted Australians as they contemplate another long day fielding in the searing Adelaide heat on Sunday.

Bureau Report