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Cricket: Four-star Kumar compounds Cook's woes

England captain Alastair Cook suffered yet another failure with the bat as Bhuvneshwar Kumar kept India on top on the second day of the second Test at Lord's.

LONDON: England captain Alastair Cook suffered yet another failure with the bat as Bhuvneshwar Kumar kept India on top on the second day of the second Test at Lord's on Friday.

Fast-medium bowler Kumar took an impressive four for 46 in 23 overs, his haul including all of the top four England batsmen as the home side reached stumps on 219 for six.

That left them 76 runs behind India's first innings 295 after Cook had fallen for just 10.

Only Gary Ballance (110) and Moeen Ali (32) offered much resistance in a fifth-wicket stand of 98 after England slumped to 113 for four.

"I have been watching cricket matches at Lord's from my childhood, so it's good to come here and take four wickets," said 24-year-old Kumar.

Whereas India batted on a lively 'green top' on Thursday, conditions for batting improved significantly on Friday, a hot day draining the pitch of much lingering moisture.

Nevertheless Kumar and his fellow India seamers maintained a far more consistently challenging length than their English counterparts.

"The England bowlers bowled a really short length and we learnt from that," said Kumar, who starred in last week's drawn series opener at Trent Bridge with three Test-bests in innings of 58 and 63 not out, as well as figures of five for 82.

"It is the kind of pitch, where you might get more wickets if you stick to a stump-to-stump line."

Before this match, Ballance was warned by England about his responsibilities, having been pictured shirtless in in a Nottingham bar after the first Test.

"It was a bit embarrassing," said the 24-year-old. "I was probably a bit naive, but I didn't really break any rules."

But Ballance understood Friday what England required of him on the field.

"It was tough this morning. They bowled well," he said. "I just tried to hang in, scrap and hope that the runs would come later on."

Cook was caught behind by opposing skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni off Kumar who has looked at home in England despite playing all his six Tests before this series in India.

Left-handed opener Cook's exit meant it was now 26 innings since he had scored the last of his England record 25 Test hundreds, with his tally for the calendar year standing at a mere 107 runs in eight innings.

For most of his 29-ball innings, Cook looked assured.

But, not moving his feet, the 29-year-old nicked a good length Kumar away-swinger to wicketkeeper Dhoni.

Australia-born opener Sam Robson, dropped in the slips on seven, squandered his reprieve by driving loosely at a wide Kumar ball and was caught behind having made 17.

Experienced batsman Ian Bell's run of low scores, while not as bad as that of Cook, continued as he made it 18 innings without a Test hundred.

Bell fell for 16 when, trying to evade a short ball from Kumar, he gloved a gentle catch to third slip.

Joe Root, fresh his 154 not out in Nottingham came in facing yet another salvage mission.

But Root was lbw for 13 to left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja.

Ballance was fortunate when, on 32, he edged medium-pacer Stuart Binny between Dhoni and first slip.

But he made the most of his luck in a composed display.

The Zimbabwe born-left hander drove and cut Binny for two fours in as many balls to go to 93 before two more fours off the same bowler, a clip off his legs and an on-drive, saw Ballance to a hundred in 186 balls including 14 fours.

It was the Yorkshire batsman's second hundred in five Tests and second in as many at Lord's after his unbeaten 104 against Sri Lanka last month.

Ali's painstaking two-hour knock ended when he was lbw to fellow part-time spinner Murali Vijay.

Ballance followed soon afterwards when, with India having taken the new ball, he was well caught down the legside by Dhoni off Kumar to end a five-hour stay at the crease.

India had been in dire straits at 145 for seven.

But England let them off the hook as India doubled their total to 290 for nine at Thursday's close thanks mainly to Ajinkya Rahane's superb 103 and Kumar's useful 36.

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