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Cook capitalises as EPP dominate

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Ian Bell

Ian Bell, hoping for a place in the England side for the opening Test in Centurion, moved on to 51 off the last ball of the day

Alastair Cook gained valuable time in the middle ahead of the Test series in South Africa as the England Performance Programme dominated the second day of their practice match in Pretoria.

Cook, captaining the EPP in this four-day game against Gauteng Strikers, top-scored with 70, while Stephen Moore and Ian Bell also made assured half-centuries as the tourists moved to 239 for two by stumps on a rain-affected day at the LC de Villiers Oval.

The EPP will resume tomorrow 89 runs short of Gauteng’s first-innings total.

Liam Plunkett made short work of the hosts' lower-order in the morning, which was also notable for the misfortune of his Durham colleague Mark Davies.

Davies claimed four wickets on the opening day, but was prevented from taking to the field for the EPP today after his bowling boots were removed by groundstaff during a shower before play got under way.

With a furious Davies unable to better his figures of 4-56, Plunkett, who was released from England's one-day squad last week, stepped up to take three wickets in as many overs.

Plunkett finished with 5-47 as the hosts added just 17 to their overnight total of 311 for six. James Taylor’s run-out accounted for the other wicket to fall.

A further rain interruption led to a delay before the EPP innings could start. But despite damp conditions, Moore and Cook wasted little time in adding 156 for the first wicket.

Both openers played fluently, with Moore hitting 13 fours before edging Ugasen Govender to slip for 68.

Cook followed five runs later, caught behind off the same bowler, having struck 11 boundaries in 120 balls.

Nonetheless, Bell (51 not out) and Michael Carberry (28no) ensured the momentum was not lost, adding a further 78 before stumps.

Bell, also named in the Test squad, faced 97 balls in all, and brought up his half-century off the last ball of the day, via his eighth four.

Amjad Khan was one of eight bowlers used by the Strikers in the EPP innings, after a pre-match agreement. Fellow EPP member Joe Sayers batted for the home side yesterday.