Ballance, Cook Blunt India
England 247-2 (Ballance 104no, Cook 95) v India
Third Test, The Ageas Bowl, day one
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Lycamobile ambassador Farokh Engineer is covering India's tour of England exclusively for Cricket World.
Ballance scored 104 not out in 204 balls and Cook made 95 in 231 deliveries as England made good use of winning the toss and batting first.
It might have been very different had Cook not been dropped by Ravindra Jadeja on 15 but otherwise the England captain used his bat to issue a riposte to recent criticism.
At the other end, Ballance made his third century of the summer and the pair shared a partnership worth 158 for the second wicket after Sam Robson fell before lunch.
England handed a debut to wicket-keeper Jos Buttler and recalled both Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes to replace Matt Prior, Ben Stokes and Liam Plunkett while India made two changes, handing a debut to seamer Pankaj Singh with Ishant Sharma struggling for fitness and Rohit Sharma replacing Stuart Binny.
It was Pankaj who induced Cook to edge to Jadeja's left early on and he ended the day wicketless despite having an excellent leg before shout against Ian Bell turned down in the final hour.
Regardless of Cook's reprieve, the opening hour belonged to England as they reached drinks on 41 without loss, with England's captain batting confidently alongside Robson.
The pair put on 55 together before Robson (26 in 59 balls) edged Mohammad Shami to third slip and this time Jadeja made no mistake.
Cook reached a half-century after lunch and looked set to end a run of 28 innings without a century until, with the milestone in sight, he contrived to edge a leg-side delivery from Jadeja onto his thigh pad and the ball rebounded up for MS Dhoni to take the catch behind the wicket.
No such worries for Ballance, who continued his superb run of form since being asked to bat at three with a first Test century away from Lord's.
Bell survived a testing start to his innings, and Pankaj was unlucky to see a ball that swung back in from leg to hit the batsman right in front of the stumps not given out.
The Warwickshire man went on to make 16 not out in 46 balls.
Shami finished with one for 62 and Jadeja one for 34 while Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, like Pankaj, were wicketless.
India lead the five-match series 1-0 after a draw at Trent Bridge and a 95-run win at Lord's.
© Cricket World 2014
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