Durban:Alastair Cook ground out a century as he and Paul Collingwood took England into a first innings lead on the third day of the second Test against South Africa at Kingsmead on Monday.
Opening batsman Cook made 118 and Collingwood 91 as England reached 386 for five at the close, a first innings lead of 43.
A patient fourth wicket partnership of 142 between Cook and Collingwood put England in a strong position as South Africa's bowlers toiled under a hot sun in the best batting conditions of the match.
It was slow going for the most part against disciplined bowling but Ian Bell gave the innings impetus after tea as he hurried to a stroke-filled half-century off 65 balls. Bell, who like Cook had been under pressure to make runs, finished the day on 55 not out.
Tall fast bowler Morne Morkel was easily South Africa's best bowler, taking three for 69. Although his teammates plugged away on an easy- paced pitch, Morkel was the only bowler who consistently looked likely to take wickets.
For the first time in the match, there was a full day's play under a cloudless sky, with 283 runs scored in 96.4 overs for the loss of four wickets.
The left-handed Cook ended a poor run of form in which he failed to score more than 32 in his previous eight Test innings. He batted solidly to reach a half-century off 136 balls and his tenth Test century off 218 deliveries.
Cook made a successful use of the review system after umpire Amish Saheba gave him out caught at short leg off off-spinner JP Duminy when he was on 64.
Television umpire Steve Davis ruled that the ball had not touched the bat before bouncing off the batsman's pad to Hashim Amla.
South Africa's bowlers gave a much-improved performance in the two-and-a-half hours played before lunch, taking two wickets and conceding only 87 runs in 33.4 overs.
But Cook and Collingwood were largely untroubled between lunch and tea, even when South African captain Graeme Smith called for the second new ball when the total was on 262 for three after 81 overs.
Morne Morkel struck an early blow for the host nation when he had Jonathan Trott caught behind for 18 off the seventh ball of the morning.
Kevin Pietersen survived a dropped catch at slip off left-arm spinner Paul Harris when he was on 20 but fell to the same bowler for 31 when he missed a sweep and was leg before wicket.
There was no more success for the South Africans until Cook edged Morkel to second slip in the fifth over after tea after batting for 401 minutes, facing 263 balls and hitting 11 fours.
Collingwood looked set for a century and it was a surprise when he fell nine runs short, caught off a bottom edge by wicketkeeper Mark Boucher off Duminy.