Trott and Cook combine with twin hundreds in Cardiff

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The Independent Online

Having batted Australia into submission during the Ashes, England pair Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott lit up the third day of the first npower Test against Sri Lanka with superb twin hundreds in Cardiff.

Cook (129no) and Trott (125no) were in superb form Down Under over the winter, scoring a combined 1,211 runs, often in tandem, and they carried on where they left off with an unbroken stand worth 240 to see England to 287 for two at stumps.

With Sri Lanka posting 400 and rain taking more time out of the game today, the hosts may not be able to force a result but in Cook's 17th Test century, Trott's sixth and England's highest partnership against Sri Lanka they have reason enough to be cheerful.

Cook was first to the landmark with his fifth century in eight Tests and Trott, who joined him in the third over of the day, was hot on his heels with a fourth from his last seven outings.

As the duo cashed in to resounding effect, the absence of retired stars Muttiah Muralitharan and Lasith Malinga from the touring attack was all too apparent.

Nightwatchman James Anderson played a curious cameo in the morning, seemingly ignoring the side strain that rules him out of bowling for the remainder of the match as he missed with two almighty heaves at Ajantha Mendis.

He departed soon enough, edging the spinner to slip without adding to his overnight single.

That brought Cook and Trott, England's Ashes bankers, together.

Trott got off the mark after seven balls but soon had a moment of concern when an Ajantha Mendis delivery kept low on him.

Suranga Lakmal got another to shoot through from the other end as the pitch hinted at some uneven bounce that never transpired.

Cook, meanwhile, looked serene and did not look to force the scoring rate in a quiet first half hour.

Trott picked up the first boundary of the day in the 12th over of play, easing Lakmal through cover to a sizeable cheer.

Cook's first four was a compact cut off Rangana Herath, who alongside Thisara Perera allowed the scoring rate to rise.

Successive fours off the latter brought Cook to 46 before drinks and his half-century came up off 112 balls.

The fifty partnership followed and England moved past three figures with eight off a Perera over, capped by a Trott four through cover.

Cook drilled Herath to the ropes in the next over as he continued to combine judicious leaves with some fluent strokes.

He flashed at one wide-ish ball from Farveez Maharoof but otherwise his judgment was impeccable.

Sri Lanka were unable to exert any pressure at this stage, with four overthrows to Trott's name and four byes off Mendis keeping things ticking.

Trott wasted no time in bringing up his 50 after tea, pushing his 102nd ball to point for two.

Lakmal finally caused some alarm when he squeezed a fuller one through Trott's defences but the ball squirmed past the leg stump.

Tillakaratne Dilshan was finding it hard to shuffle his inexperienced attack to any great effect, with a run out attempt against Trott providing a rare wicket chance.

Cook missed out on a couple of four balls from Mendis, who was otherwise economical despite causing little danger. The 26-year-old is described as a 'mystery spinner' but Cook and Trott appeared to have solved the mystery some time ago.

Trott, in particular, was relentless in working anything straight into the onside for ones and twos.

He was also quick to push for the brisk single as the game settled into a low-key phase of play.

Cook, having gone into his shell at the start of a long evening session, almost fell 13 short of his hundred.

He went to sweep Herath into the leg-side but sent the shot straight at Tharanga Paranavitana at short-leg. He stood up bravely but could not hold on to what would have been a superb catch.

After the 150 partnership, and the England 200, passed, Cook attempted the same stroke against Dilshan but this time picked up four to move to 97.

On 99 he saw two full-blooded cuts off Lakmal stopped at gully but threaded a third through the gap to reach three figures with his eighth boundary.

Trott, who accelerated after Cook's hundred, also celebrated his ton with a four, driving Lakmal square through cover.

The Warwickshire man's century occupied 196 balls, 28 fewer than his partner's.

Runs came easily from there on, with Cook's driven four off Perera and back-to-back Trott boundaries off Mendis highlights.