Birmingham: As in Brisbane nine months ago this was a day for the record books with Alastair Cook to the fore. However, the landmark of a triple hundred eluded him when he fell for 294 as England built up a monumental lead of 486 at Edgbaston. Cook and Eoin Morgan, who made his second Test hundred, added 222 for the fourth wicket on another day of complete England dominance before they were given the perfect finish by removing Virender Sehwag for a king pair.
Most of the day became filled with various milestones for Cook and by tea he was in the top 10 of all-time scores for England, within touching distance of joining his mentor, Graham Gooch, in the 300-club. But, trying to drive through the off side - a rare show of aggression during a display of remorseless accumulation - he picked out deep point and, instead, joined another select band of those who reached the 290s.
That list includes Sehwag - who, of course, also has triple hundreds - but in this match he hasn't been able to score a single run. Cook's dismissal prompted the declaration and Sehwag was back in the pavilion to the second ball of the innings when he played a booming drive at James Anderson which flew to first slip. England could also have removed Gautam Gambhir before the close when Graeme Swann had an lbw turned down that was hitting middle and leg. Swann will have a big say on Saturday.
Sehwag clearly wasn't ready for this Test, physically or mentally, but even for someone so renowned for shelving the coaching manual his shot-selection didn't given him much of a chance. Cook's method of batting could not be more removed from Sehwag. He has expanded his game in recent months, but in Test cricket still enjoys playing at his own pace. Cook scored seven boundaries during the day and cheers that greeted his later fours may have included a hint of irony about them. Yet even those who wished for something a touch more flamboyant can't help but marvel at Cook's powers of concentration and remorselessness. There was an era when England cried out for batsmen who could score huge totals and now they have a top-order full of them, with Cook leading the way. (Pics: Bruised and battered Team India)
Before lunch he registered his double hundred from 378 balls and soon moved past his previous best of 235 at Brisbane in November. And the milestones kept on coming. When he went to 247 it gave him the second-highest score by an England batsman against India, with only Gooch ahead of him with 333, and Cook's 250 - which came from 485 balls - was the first such score for England since that 1990 epic by Gooch.
Alongside Cook's personal landmarks it was also a day for England to set some high points with the final total their third-highest and their best in non-timeless Tests. England's progress wasn't always scintillating but they were content to grind India down with two days still available. The innings was also halted twice for poor light, the first occasion when the floodlights couldn't be turned on due to a power failure at the ground.
As they had yesterday, England wanted to wear down the bowlers for later acceleration and that came as Tim Bresnan played some shots during a crisp half-century in a 97-run stand alongside Cook. It was a slightly improved display from the Indians as there were a few more dives in the outfield while bowlers put in some hard yards.
The main partnership, and the one that built on the previous day's gains, was between Cook and Morgan. With a deep-set field more akin to the middle overs of a one-day game it was a perfect situation for Morgan to help himself to a Test hundred. He had to be watchful against Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma, but was given plenty of spin to milk around.
His century arrived from 188 balls and he was soon using his feet to loft Suresh Raina down the ground. Morgan, though, hadn't wasted the two lives he was given on the second day and following two scores in the 70s this season it will have settled any debate about his position in the line-up for the foreseeable future. If he'd stayed in the middle England's rate would have increased, but attempting an inside-out drive he picked out Sehwag at cover - fortunately, given the standard of India's catching, he didn't have to move far to hold on.
It meant Ravi Bopara, on his return to Test cricket, came in at 596 for 4 with little to gain and, almost inevitably having watched the 69-over stand that preceded him, he didn't manage a long stay. He opened his account with a back-cut to third man but was trapped lbw by Amit Mishra when a delivery straightened and would have hit middle. It was due recognition for Mishra who had bowled with more verve and found considerable turn, although that was probably of more interest to Swann.
Mishra claimed his third success when Matt Prior top-edged a sweep that was well caught by Sachin Tendulkar who made good ground running from deep square leg. Wickets, though, were irrelevant; it was just a matter of Cook's progress and how many England wanted to lead by.
Bresnan provided useful impetus just as things were threatening to stall and his stay included a mighty six over midwicket off Ishant. Cook would have dearly wanted those six runs for himself, but it was about the only thing that didn't quite go to script. India have a huge challenge to even take this match to the final day.