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Cook ton highlights England's Ashes fight

Alastair Cook may have experienced some lows, but always emerged from them. (Nick Potts/PA Wire.)
27th December, 2017
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Out-of-form old veterans Alastair Cook and Stuart Broad have found their mojo at the MCG.

A dropped catch from the most unlikely of sources helped England reach 2-192 at stumps on day two of the fourth Ashes Test.

Cook was 104 not out at the end of play, posting the 32nd ton of his Test career after taking 11 runs off the final over — delivered by Steve Smith.

England trail by 135 runs, with Cook and Joe Root (49no) well set in an unbeaten 112-run stand.

Broad snared 4-51, his best figures in more than a year, as Australia suffered a collapse of 7-67 and were bowled out for 327 on Wednesday.

Broad and Cook were among the tourists’ worst performers in the opening three Tests, during which the hosts banked big wins to claim an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series.

Cook offered a sharp chance on 66 but it was put down by Smith, usually the safest pair of hands in the team, at first slip.

Tim Paine was up to the stumps during Mitch Marsh’s second over. Smith reacted sharply to the low edge then snatched at the ball as it bounced out of his hands.

Combined with Pat Cummins’ stomach bug, which restricted the express paceman to 11 overs, and a flat pitch, it gave the skipper plenty to think about.

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Earlier, Smith, Paine and Mitch Marsh all chopped on during the morning session, underlining the risks involved with trying to up the run-rate on such a slow deck.

Smith lashed at a wide delivery on 76, reducing the skipper’s Test average at the venue to 119 and handing debutant Tom Curran his maiden scalp.

Broad, having been spared the axe after logging the worst figures of his Test career in Perth, removed Cummins and Jackson Bird to help his side clean up the tail quickly.

Cook and Root are yet to bat England into a position of dominance but they are well placed to do so — with the visitors in their strongest position with the bat all series.

Nathan Lyon snaffled a one-handed return catch to dismiss Mark Stoneman for 15, while Josh Hazlewood trapped James Vince lbw on 17.

Although replays showed Vince edged the ball onto his pads but he opted against reviewing the verdict.