@Rich_Wisden 6 minute read
In a thrilling day that gave outgoing England opener Alastair Cook a fitting finale to an illustrious Test career, we dissect day four of the fifth Test between England and India.
The departing legend, in his final innings as an international cricketer, along with fellow centurion Joe Root propelled England to 423/8 declared, setting India a mighty 464 to win, before James Anderson and Stuart Broad made crushing breakthroughs during the final session as India recovered from 2-3 to 58-3.
Here’s the day’s play in five key moments from The Oval.
Cook enters top five in list of highest Test run-scorers
Just after midday, with Cook and Root in fine rhythm, the opener got a thick inside edge off Mohammad Shami to surpass Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara to become the fifth highest run-scorer in Test match history and the highest scoring left-hander.
He had notched a mountainous 12,401 Test runs at 45.26, with only Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Jacque Kallis and Rahul Dravid above him. There were loftier averages in the top ten, but the former England captain was the only opener.
It was a welcome milestone, but Cook, his teammates and the England faithful yearned for a ton to mark his final Test innings. Would he deliver?
Cook follows the script with climatic century
Cook cut Ravindra Jadeja to Jasprit Bumrah at point off the first ball of the 70th over, who proceeded to chuck four overthrows to the straight midwicket boundary, gifting Cook his 33rd Test hundred and his seventh against India.
It was an appalling piece of fielding; the beaming opener knew the milestone had been achieved as soon as the wayward hurl evaded the bowler and the leisurely-limbed Cheteshwar Pujara begun a fruitless chase to the boundary.
The whole crowd rose to applaud for several minutes, as an emotional Cook soaked up the limelight. Heroic stuff.
ROOOOOOOT! Captain delivers
Shortly after lunch, Root hit his 14th Test hundred when he grabbed a quick single off the bowling of Jadeja.
The scenes couldn’t match Cook’s century for emotion, but it was a timely boost for the England captain, who has come in for criticism for his failure to capitalise on strong starts – there were 11 fifties between his 13th and 14th Test hundred.
This was the innings he needed to reaffirm his position among Test cricket’s elite batsmen.
A cricketing nation salutes a hero
The curtain fell on a memorable stand between skipper and former skipper when Root departed for a 190-ball 125, caught in the deep off the bowling of Hanuma Vihari, before Cook, ‘Chef’ to his teammates, edged behind the very next ball.
The England legend shook hands with his counterparts before leaving the field to thunderous applause, as a cricketing nation thanked one of their greatest-ever Test batsmen.
Kohli’s golden prompts Broad smiles
James Anderson wasted no time in finding his rhythm, trapping both Shakhar Dhawan and Pujara plumb lbw, but it was the dismissal of captain Kohli – the man who has carried the weight of a nation during some fine innings this summer – that triggered the most spirited of celebrations.
After Stuart Broad found the India captain’s outside edge, a golden duck was not the conclusion Kohli’s series deserved, but it lent further drama and an unexpected plot twist to a captivating tale.