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Cricket: Captain Cook stars as England maintain grip on fifth Test


England's captain Alastair Cook hits out during the fifth cricket test match against India at the Oval cricket ground in London. Photo - Reuters

London: Alastair Cook led from the front as England drew level in the fifth Test with India at The Oval on Saturday for the loss of just Sam Robson.

England were 148 for one, in reply to India's first innings 148 all out, at lunch on the second day.
Cook, the England captain, was 56 not out and Gary Ballance 40 not out.

The left-handers' partnership was so far worth 82 runs, with Australia-born Robson the only batsman out in the session.

England, looking to seal the five-match series at 2-1 up, resumed on 62 without loss — a deficit of 86 runs — after India suffered their latest batting collapse of the series on Friday, with only skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (82) offering much resistance.

Cook was 24 not out and Robson 33 not out.

However, Australia-born Robson had added just four runs to his score when, in the second over of the day he was bowled off stump by fast bowler Varun Aaron after playing down the wrong line.

Cook, who had looked vulnerable against the short ball on occasion, hooked Aaron well in front of square for a resounding boundary.

Meanwhile, Ballance, as the sun broke through the clouds, flicked Aaron off his pads and drove Bhuvneshwar Kumar past mid-on for two well-struck fours.

Ishant Sharma bowled some probing deliveries on of off stump but Cook, after a run of 40 balls without a boundary, pulled a rare short delivery past square leg for four.

Ballance brought up the pair's fifty partnership when he eased medium-pacer Stuart Binny through to the cover boundary.

Ravichandran Ashwin came into the attack.

But when the off-spinner dropped short and wide, Cook cut him to the point rope to complete a 125-ball fifty including five fours.

England ended the session in emphatic fashion when the last ball saw Ballance drive Ashwin for four to level the scores.

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