Tons up for England: Centurions Cook and Bell put Pakistan on the rack, but Harmison injury causes concern

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The Independent Online

Alastair Cook and Ian Bell hit fluent centuries at a baking Old Trafford yesterday to put England in total command of the second Test against the touring Pakistanis.

The two youngsters of the side - Cook is 21, Bell 24 - led the team from 168 for 2 to 461 for 9 deep in the final session whereupon Andrew Strauss declared in the hope of picking up a late Pakistan wicket. That was not to be as they closed on 12 for 0 - trailing by 330 - and there was the latest in the expanding catalogue of injury concerns when the fast bowler Steve Harmison left the field holding his side in discomfort.

Cook hit 127 while Bell made 106 not out in quick time and their scores backed up a century apiece in the first Test at Lord's. "It's been a good wicket and nice to get in, you can score on it," Cook said while Bell, in the team for the injured Andrew Flintoff, admitted he had not planned to be so aggressive.

"I didn't quite expect to come out and play like that but from ball one it felt fantastic," he said. "I've been working hard on my starts. I feel in good form and the foot work's really going well. It's good to get in the team and score some runs."

England are well placed to wrap up the Test and take a 1-0 series lead but there are mixed weather forecasts for the weekend and Strauss will hope to have Harmison available as he looks to remove Pakistan's stubborn middle order that denied them at Lord's.