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England captain Alastair Cook has fallen agonisingly short of ending his barren spell without a Test hundred as he led from the front against India at Southampton.
Cook won the toss on Sunday and then made 95, having been dropped early on, out of England's 247 for two at stumps on the first day of the third Test.
Gary Ballance, who helped his captain put on 158 for the second wicket, succeeded where Cook had failed by reaching three figures to be 104 not out at the close.
"I was desperate to score runs," Cook, who has averaged a modest 26 since scoring the last of his England record 25 Test hundreds more than a year ago, told Sky Sports.
"It's been a long time since I have done it. Tonight I feel like I have contributed."
The 29-year-old left-handed opener said the innings was step in the right direction.
"To be 247 for two is a great day. We have given ourselves a platform."
An India attack missing injured paceman Ishant Sharma, whose career-best seven for 74 sealed their 95-run win in the second Test at Lord's, was unable to pose much of a physical threat on an even-paced pitch.
But if those circumstances were in Cook's favour, he still needed to stay at the At tea, England were 186 for one, with Cook 82 not out and Ballance 72 not out.
But Cook's near five-hour innings ended when, swiping at a long hop from left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, he got a bottom edge and was caught down the legside by wicketkeeper and opposing captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Cook received another standing ovation as he walked back having faced 231 balls, including nine fours.
England made three changes from the side that lost the second Test, bringing in debutant wicketkeeper Jos Buttler for the injured Matt Prior while all-rounders Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes replaced fast bowler Liam Plunkett and Ben Stokes respectively.
Social Media Reaction
OUT! Alastair Cook is gone for 95 after being caught behind from a wide ball from Jadeja. #ENGvIND— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) July 27, 2014
Alastair Cook has now been out 6 times in the 90's in Tests. The most by an England batsman. #bbccricket— BBC TMS (@bbctms) July 27, 2014
Shame not to get those last 5 runs, but that was still an innings of real substance bearing in mind what's gone before.— Dean Wilson (@CricketMirror) July 27, 2014
Great show of mental strength & resilience from Cook as his run scoring form returns despite just missing out on 26th Test 100. Well batted.— Alec Stewart (@StewieCricket) July 27, 2014
Terrific decision by Umpire Erasmus ....so difficult— David 'Bumble' Lloyd (@BumbleCricket) July 27, 2014
Under the amount of pressure Cook was under, that was quite brilliant! Really happy he got runs. Well done, AC #95— Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) July 27, 2014
Well played Alastair Cook.great way to respond to all the critics out there.— Faf Du Plessis (@faf1307) July 27, 2014