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Patient Cook, fiery Stokes put England on top

Home side ends fourth day on 429 for 6 for a lead of 295, with contrasting centuries by captain and allrounder

Patient Cook, fiery Stokes put England on top - Cricket News
Alastair Cook and Ben Stokes hit contrasting centuries to take England to 429 for 6 at stumps on the fourth day of the first Test on Sunday (May 24). Cook and Stokes ensured England’s lead had swelled to a substantial 295 runs.

Both hundreds came in vastly different fashion, with Stokes registering the fastest-ever Test ton at Lord's, while Cook, the England captain, weighed in with an equally valuable century of his own and was still batting at the close, having gone past 150.

Cook, along with Joe Root (84), helped England fight back after starting the day at 74 for 2 and 60 runs behind New Zealand's first innings total of 523. England lost Ian Bell without any addition to the overnight score, nibbling a Tim Southee delivery for a catch behind the stumps, but after that Root, the vice-captain, bedded in alongside his skipper.
Root, out for 98 in the first innings, again missed out on a century, but Stokes followed his first-innings 92 with his second Test century – and first in England – since hitting 120 against Australia in Perth two years ago. Stokes shredded New Zealand’s bowling attack before being caught by Trent Boult off Matt Henry's bowling for a 92-ball 101, but his counter-attacking innings ensured England would enter the final day in a strong position.
With the pitch still offering some movement, England has the option of either batting on or setting up a challenging declaration for New Zealand early on Day 5.

Brendon McCullum’s men can still make a comeback in this Test however, with early wickets on the final morning. So far, each day of this 100th Test between the two sides has seen fortunes swing.

Cook, who weathered the early spells after starting on his overnight 32, let the ball come on to him while picking up runs off the loose deliveries. He and Root helped England stretch the lead to 98 before their stand of 158 was broken.

Root dominated the partnership with Cook, before and after lunch. With the seamers probing, the batsmen took on Mark Craig, the offspinner.

Cook had begun the month without having a century in two years, but now has two in successive Tests, having hit one against the West Indies in Barbados in England’s previous match. With his 27th ton, England’s leading century-maker is now tied with Allan Border and Graeme Smith. By stumps, Cook was on 153, having batted for more than six and a half hours. 

As with Root, Cook took a back seat in his partnership with Stokes. Stokes was on 22 when the second new ball was taken. But he took on Southee and punished the short ball, with the bowler conceding 37 from two overs.

Stokes reached his 100 in 86 balls, with three sixes off Southee and 15 boundaries. He was eventually beaten for turn by Craig, and was caught by Ross Taylor after adding 132 runs to the England total with Cook.

Moeen Ali was unbeaten on 19 alongside Cook at stumps.

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