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Alastair Cook returns to form with brilliant century as England fight back in Melbourne

Alastair Cook celebrates his century in Melbourne. Credit: PA

Essex batsman Alastair Cook hit a brilliant century as England fought back on day two of the Boxing Day Ashes Test in Melbourne.

The 33-year-old was under pressure to perform having struggled for runs in the series so far, but silenced his critics in the best possible fashion by ending the day 104 not out to put England in a strong position in the match.

It was Cook's first Ashes century for almost seven years, with his last ton against the Australians coming in Sydney in early 2011.

Following his hundred, current and former teammates of Cook lined up to congratulate him on social media.

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Cook was back to his best at the MCG. Credit: PA

Cook was handed a slice of good fortune when he was dropped by Australian captain Steve Smith on 66, but he was otherwise largely untroubled as he shared an unbeaten stand of 112 with Joe Root.

England will resume their first innings on 192-2 on Thursday, a deficit of 135 runs, after Australia had earlier collapsed from 260-3 to 327 all out.

Paceman Stuart Broad took 4-51 as England ripped through the tail, while James Anderson also claimed three wickets to give the tourists their best day of the series so far.