Alastair Cook
Alastair Cook came to within a whisker of his first tonne in 14 months.

England finished the first day of the second test with India looking a different side to the one that has been struggling in recent months, with Alastair Cook coming painstakingly close to his first century in over a year.

Cook, who has faced calls during the week to step down as captain after England lost the second test, put on a 158-run stand with Gary Ballance, and appeared certain to reach 100 when he was caught by wicketkeeper Mahendra Dhoni on 95.

The skipper led an England side which looked calm and collected as they finished the day on 247-2, with Ballance reaching his third century in five tests.

Cook said after the match: "I was desperate to score runs. It's been a long time since I have done it. Tonight I feel like I have contributed. I was as fresh as I have been.

"I can't tell you how much I wanted to score 100. It's a step in the right direction. You always back yourself to score when you are under pressure. To be 247-2 is a great day.

"We have given ourselves a platform. They bowled slightly defensively to us, but we are in a good position after day one."

England are desperate to reclaim some dignity with a win over India and end a run of 10 tests without a victory. And while the side looked second best throughout the majority of the most recent test against the visitors, they are now in a positive position to turn this series into a real contest.