Cook digs in to keep England on course

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The Independent Online

England made steady progress on the third morning, extending their first innings lead of 144 by a further 106 runs before lunch. Michael Vaughan, the England captain, was the only batsman to lose his wicket when, on 13, he edged a good ball from Kyle Mills through to Brendon McCullum, the Black Caps wicket-keeper.

Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss ensured there were no more alarms, watchfully guiding their side to the interval. Each showed composure on a pitch still offering the faster bowlers assistance yet several crisp drives were stroked to the boundary.

The 50 partnership was brought up by one such shot from Cook, who completed a workmanlike half century when he pushed the final ball of the session, bowled by Daniel Vettori, to mid on for a single. Strauss, unbeaten on 31, would have been the happiest to come through the session. England's No 3 needs a major innings if he is to prevent further speculation about his place.

Cook, who struck the first six of his international career, supplied the most remarkable moment of the morning. The reputation of the England opener has not been built on free scoring stroke play and he had failed to clear the boundary with any of the previous 5,470 balls he had faced. The shot was far from controlled, a top edged hook at Chris Martin that went sailing over the wicket-keeper towards the sightscreen, but Cook looked delighted to have broken his duck.

Lunch, day three: England 106-1 (Cook 50 not out, Vaughan c McCullum b Mills 13, Strauss 31 not out)