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Ballance hits 110, Cook only 10 as England ends day 2 on 219-6, trails India by 76 in 2nd test

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LONDON - Gary Ballance hit his second consecutive Lord's century as England reached 219-6 at stumps Friday on the second day of the second test, still 76 runs behind India's first-innings 295.

Ballance came to the crease with England on 22-1, after captain Alastair Cook continued his wretched batting form by falling for only 10 to Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Criticized in the media for drinking in a nightclub following the first test draw on Sunday, Ballance defiantly guided his side through a tricky afternoon spell. England moved from 51-2 at lunch to 125-4 at tea as Ballance and Moeen Ali put on a fifth-wicket partnership of 98.

India fought back as Ballance was dismissed for 110, feathering behind to Mahendra Singh Dhoni from Kumar in the 83rd over after India took the new ball.

"It has been an interesting week . but it is nice to score some runs and put ourselves back in a decent position," Ballance said. "They came at us all day and bowled well on a pitch that offered a bit for them."

The 24-year-old Ballance hit three fours off Stuart Binny's 10th over, the second of which was a flick through mid-wicket to take him into three figures.

Two overs later, and only three runs before Ballance was out, Ali fell lbw to Murali Vijay for 32.

While Ballance is in fine form with the bat, his captain is not.

Cook should have ignored the delivery from Kumar that brought about his downfall, but dangled his bat outside off stump and nicked the ball towards wicketkeeper Dhoni, who dived left to scoop up the catch.

Frustratingly for Cook, he began his innings assuredly. His footwork was nimble, he played straight, and was leaving the balls that were wide of his stumps.

But his footwork deserted him for the out-swinging delivery from Kumar that brought him his first wicket of the day.

As Kumar celebrated with his teammates, Cook swiped his bat up in the air in dismay and the Lord's crowd fell silent as he wandered back to the pavilion.

Cook scored 5 in the drawn first test, has been averaging less than 14 this year, and has not scored a 100 in 14 months — despite being England's all-time leading century-maker with 25. The pressure to cut the captain keeps mounting on England, which was winless for nine straight tests for the first time in 21 years.

Kumar, India's leading wicket taker with figures of 4-46, was pleased to keep the scrutiny on Cook.

"He's the kind of batsman who, if he gets going, will score big runs," he said. "It is really important for us to keep him quiet. We tried our best to get him out."

Cook's dismissal meant India barely had time to rue the dropped catch of fellow opener Sam Robson by Ajinkya Rahane two deliveries earlier, off the bowling of Mohammed Shami.

The ball was nicked through to Rahane at second slip at a comfortable height, but it spilled out of his hands.

Robson made only nine more before giving his wicket away sloppily for 17. He tried to cover drive Kumar but instead flashed the ball to Dhoni for Kumar's second wicket.

Kumar struck for the third time swiftly after lunch. Ian Bell (16) fended an in-swinging delivery off his glove to Ravindra Jadeja at third slip for a simple catch.

Jadeja then provided a wicket, trapping unlucky Joe Root lbw on 13 at 113-4, as replays showed Root got an inside edge.

Replays are unavailable to both sides in this series, with India a long-standing opponent of the technology.

Ballance brought up his half century, England's sole highlight of the second session, with a single punched through to point. But he was fortunate not to become Binny's first test wicket on 32 when he edged behind, only for Dhoni and Shikhar Dhawan at first slip to leave the catch for each other. It went all the way through for four.

India's first innings was wrapped up in the second over of the day when Mohammed Shami edged Ben Stokes and Cook took his 100th test catch.

Shami and India added five to their overnight total, Shami finishing with 19. Ishant Sharma was 12 not out.

Matt Prior (2) and Liam Plunkett (4) finished the day at the crease for England.

Ballance believes that with Stuart Broad, Ben Stokes and James Anderson still to bat, the hosts can post a challenging first innings score.

"If we can get two more partnerships and try and get a lead on this wicket, we can put India under a bit of pressure," Ballance said. "The third innings is always a crucial part of the game."

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