SOUTHAMPTON, England - 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.
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.