Alastair Cook hit a double hundred to defy Australian attempts to wrap up England’s first innings in the fourth Ashes in Melbourne on Thursday. The stoic opening left-hander reached 200 late on the third day, rebounding from a lean scoring series in the opening three Tests. It was Cook’s fifth double hundred in 151 Tests with his highest score of 294 coming against India in Birmingham in 2011.

Alastair Cook profited on his second drop by Steve Smith. The veteran opener, back in the runs after a lean run, had a let-off on 153 to reach 173 not out at tea in Melbourne, with England 360 for six.

Batting partner Chris Woakes (26) put the tourists in front with a single off Nathan Lyon 40 minutes before the break as England ratcheted up the pressure on Australia, who have already secured the series with an unassailable 3-0 lead.

Smith, who dropped Cook on 66 in the slips on Wednesday, put down the former England skipper for the second time in a sharp right-handed chance at square leg off Pat Cummins to continue his


Smith was reported to be suffering from a stomach complaint, similar to one that inflicted Cummins on Wednesday, and which took the skipper briefly from the field early in the day.

But it was all about Alastair Cook as he scored 150 or more for the 11th time in Tests to climb to the seventh-highest run scorer in Tests behind Sachin Tendulkar.At tea, Cook had batted for 487 minutes and faced 319 balls in his 32nd Test century and was grinding away at Australia’s bowlers on a featherbed MCG pitch.

England lost two wickets in the middle session with Jonny Bairstow caught behind off Lyon for 22 and Moeen Ali lashing out for 20.Moeen Ali took on Lyon and was almost caught on the boundary rope by Cummins before the ball landed over the ropes for six.

Moeen continued to live on the edge before he found Shaun Marsh at short extra cover off Lyon to end his 14-ball cameo.

It was the sixth time in seven innings in the series that Moeen had been dismissed by fellow off-spinner Lyon.

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