Ballance digs in as Cook goes early

The Bolton News: Gary Ballance celebrates his half-century at Lord's Gary Ballance celebrates his half-century at Lord's

Alastair Cook's wretched form continued as Gary Ballance was instead left to try to establish a foothold for England in the second Investec Test against India at Lord's.

Cook has made 107 runs in eight Test innings this year, and his run without a hundred extends to 26 over 14 months, after he fell for 10 early on day two here.

Ballance (51 not out) dug in, however, as England reached tea on 125 for four in reply to 295 all out.

Cook and Sam Robson have yet to register a half-century stand, in six attempts together at the top of the order, after the England captain followed some movement across him and edged behind to a diving Mahendra Singh Dhoni to become the first of three victims for Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

There were relatively few initial alarms for England's opening pair on a pitch which appeared less green than when Cook put India in on day one.

Movement off the seam and in the air was not so lavish either, but India's new-ball pair Kumar and Mohammed Shami bowled much more testing lines than England had 24 hours earlier.

After Cook got off the mark second ball, with a push to midwicket for a single, Robson edged his first from Kumar just short of a diving third slip.

The openers then looked secure until Robson edged Shami to second slip - where Ajinkya Rahane put down a regulation chance.

Two balls later, at the other end, Cook was dismissed.

Kumar soon had his second wicket too, Robson aiming a drive only to also edge behind.

Ian Bell, on nought for 16 deliveries, opened his account with a trademark late cut for four off Kumar (three for 34).

The nagging seamer got his man after lunch, however, in unexpected circumstances with a short ball which followed Bell down the slope from the pavilion end and had him gloving a simple catch to third slip.

Ballance remained largely assured, and unhurried.

There was one moment of fortune for the left-hander, when he edged Stuart Binny between wicketkeeper and slip on 32.

His and Joe Root's determination appeared to be paying off until his fourth-wicket partner went unluckily lbw to Ravindra Jadeja - having apparently got an inside-edge on to his pad, in forward-defence.

Ballance stayed the course, though.

He had taken 54 balls to reach double-figures either side of lunch but completed his three-hour half-century in 115 just before tea.

Cook's day had begun with a minor morale boost, when he clung on at the second attempt to a straightforward slip catch - his 100th in Tests - to end the India innings for the addition of only five runs to the overnight total, after Ben Stokes found Shami's edge just 10 balls into a hot and sunny morning.

Sadly for the hosts, their early success was not to prove a good omen for the under-pressure captain.

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