Alastair Cook hits 294 as England make 710-7 against India
|Third Test, Edgbaston (close, day three):|
|India 224 & 35-1 v England 710-7 - England lead by 451|
Alastair Cook fell six runs short of a triple century at Edgbaston as England racked up the third highest Test total in their history to pile further misery on India.
After batting for almost 13 hours without offering a single chance, Cook holed out for 294 to prompt Andrew Strauss to call time with England on a mammoth 710-7.
India promptly lost Virender Sehwag for a golden duck for the second time in the match to send the 25,000 crowd into raptures.
And although Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid prevented any further damage before the close, India remain 451 runs behind England and will have to bat for the best part of two days on a turning wicket to prevent the hosts securing the win that would put them top of the world Test rankings.
Cook's monumental effort was the sixth highest score by an Englishman, and the best since Graham Gooch's 333 against the same opposition in 1990.
He shared in a stand of 222 with Eoin Morgan, with the Dubliner reaching three figures for the second time in Tests.
It was a partnership high on runs but low on entertainment, with the left-handed duo favouring steady accumulation over flair.
They scored at a fraction over three runs per over, with Cook only finding the boundary twice in the first four hours of play.
With India's bowling once again offering little threat and the batsmen content to deal mostly in singles, it took a mid-afternoon powercut to really enliven the crowd.
Initially the problem was restricted to the New Stand, but once the floodlights went out, the umpires took the decision to take the players off the field.
With two spinners bowling, and two batsmen well set, it seemed an absurdly cautious call and was roundly booed by the crowd.
When play resumed, Morgan made it to three figures with a single off his 188th ball. But after adding four more to his total, he slapped Suresh Raina straight to Sehwag at mid-off to give India their first wicket of the day at 1515 BST.
Morgan's dismissal was quickly followed by those of Ravi Bopara - trapped lbw by Amit Mishra - and Matt Prior, who top-edged a sweep off the same bowler and was well caught by Sachin Tendulkar, running in from long leg.
Tim Bresnan upped the scoring rate with some meaty blows as he reached a half-century either side of another deeply unpopular stoppage for bad light.
He brought up the mark with a huge six over mid-on off Sharma to take England past 700 for only the third time in their history - the others being in timeless Tests in 1930 and 1938 respectively.
With Cook nearing 300, India set about delaying the declaration by pushing men back to the boundary. And the tactic brought about Cook's downfall as he drove loosely at Sharma and sliced straight to backward point.
India made the worst possible start to their second innings when Sehwag nicked an Anderson away-swinger to first slip and there was enough encouragement for the spinners to suggest Graeme Swann could have a major role to play as England push for a victory on Saturday.
Listen to Jonathan Agnew and Geoff Boycott's review of each day's play on the TMS podcast.