England v India: England took complete control of the fifth Test against India on an astonishing fourth day at The Oval in which Alastair Cook signed off with a century and James Anderson equalled the record for Test wickets as a pace bowler.
Cook made 147 in his final innings before international retirement and captain Joe Root weighed in with 125 as England declared on 423-8.
Anderson then drew level with Australian Glenn McGrath’s pace bowling record of 563 Test wickets as India, chasing an improbable 464 for victory, floundered.
The tourists, who have already lost the series 3-1, ended the day on 58-3, trailing England by 406 runs.
The near-capacity crowd spent much of the day on their feet as Cook and Root with the bat, and then Anderson with the ball, put India under the cosh.
It was a historic day all round for Cook, who surpassed Kumar Sangakkara to become the fifth-highest Test run scorer – and most prolific left-hander – before reaching his 33rd and final Test century.
The former captain shared in a huge partnership with his successor Root, putting on 259 runs for the third wicket.
Cook was given a standing ovation at the start of the day, then again when he reached three figures, before the entire ground stood to applaud as he left the field after batting for the final time.
With India looking mentally exhausted, Anderson made hay in a frenetic evening session, dismissing Shikhar Dhawan and then Cheteshwar Pujara in the space of three balls to move himself within one wicket of passing McGrath outright and becoming the leading fast bowler in Test cricket.
India captain Virat Kohli fell for a golden duck to Stuart Broad as the party atmosphere grew in the sun-soaked stands.
The crowd chanted Cook’s name throughout the final five minutes of the day, and the team applauded the fans as they made their way off the field at the close of play.
It was a day filled with ‘where were you?’ moments – and it has put England within touching distance of an emphatic final-Test victory.
|Highest run-scorers in Test history|
|*denotes not out|
|S Tendulkar (India)||200||329||15,921||53.78||248*|
|R Ponting (Australia)||168||287||13,378||51.85||257|
|J Kallis (South Africa)||166||280||13,289||55.37||224|
|R Dravid (India)||164||286||13,288||52.31||270|
|A Cook (England)||161||291||12,472||45.35||294|
Cook revels in Oval warmth
Cook has not looked fluent at times in this series but, resuming on Monday on 46, he showed flickers of the player who for so long has been the backbone of England’s batting.
There were clips off the hip and cuts against the spinners, as well as a fine straight drive as he moved through the gears.
India lost their lines when bowling to Cook, and their only real chance came when Jasprit Bumrah bowled a sustained spell of short deliveries to try and tempt him into a loose hook.
Cook’s century came up in farcical fashion – on 96, he pushed and ran for a single, but a poor throw from Bumrah went for four overthrows, and took him to 101.
He was embraced by Root and received a second standing ovation of the day – eventually having to ask the crowd for calm so play could resume.
His dismissal was almost a shock, caught behind as he tried to cut Hanuma Vihari, the ball after Root had been caught at deep mid-wicket.
Each member of the India team shook his hand as he departed to yet another standing ovation, lingering on the boundary rope for an extra second to soak in the applause.
Anderson draws level with McGrath
|Leading wicket-takers in Test cricket|
|Wickets||Average||Type of bowler|
Much as Cook has done with the bat, Anderson has spearheaded England’s bowling both home and away for the past 10 years.
Cook and Root’s partnership, as well as some late hitting from the middle order, kept India in the field for 112.3 overs, and Anderson was able to exploit their scrambled minds when the tourists came out to bat.
Opener Dhawan played around a full delivery and was trapped in front of middle stump before Pujara, who made a century in the last Test, missed an inswinger and was dismissed lbw as well.
That brought Kohli, who Anderson has not dismissed in this series despite snaring him several times during the last tour, to the crease.
It seemed inevitable that on such a dramatic day India captain Kohli would be the wicket to take Anderson past McGrath’s long-standing record.
However, Stuart Broad interrupted that storyline. He tempted Kohli into a loose shot to the first ball he faced, and the resulting edge was caught by wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow to leave India 2-3.
The Oval once again got to their feet as they, and England’s slip cordon, seemed convinced Anderson had trapped KL Rahul lbw, but a review showed the ball was going over the top of the stumps.
Anderson, as much as he strived, could not find the wicket to take him past McGrath’s record and add to his tally of 23 wickets in the series so far, and will instead hope to do so on the final day of the match – and series – on Tuesday.
A tale of two tons
If Cook’s century was a farewell, then Root’s was a welcome return to form ahead of the winter tour to Sri Lanka in November.
Prior to today, Root had not made a half-century for eight innings, and his last century came in August 2017 against West Indies.
He was given two strokes of fortune. Ajinkya Rahane shelled a difficult chance at slip off Ravinda Jadeja with Root in the forties, before Pujara dropped Root on 94.
In-between there were some fine shots, notably when Root skipped down the pitch and struck Jadeja down the ground for six.
His century was celebrated in emphatic fashion, Root running a quick single off Jadeja before letting out a roar of relief.
He and Cook seemed barely troubled by a tiring India attack and it was ultimately a misjudgement from Root, caught as he tried to attack Vihari, that ended a profitable partnership.
Some late hitting heaped further misery on India.
Ben Stokes hit a 36-ball 37, flogging Jadeja for six down the ground before lifting Shami over the slips for four.
Even number nine Adil Rashid chipped in, sweetly cover driving and turning the ball down to third man, before the declaration arrived with England in total control.
‘One of the great days of English cricket’
Analysis by former England captain Michael Vaughan
“It has been one of the great days of English cricket. For Alastair Cook to find that rhythm with the bat in hand, after the emotional rollercoaster he must have gone through this week, is remarkable.
“We have watched him for 12 years but that innings was up there with one of his best.
“He had all of his family up on the balcony, and he had a crowd of 18,000 who came out to watch him bat, and he didn’t disappoint.”
Cook reflects on ‘unbelievable’ day
England’s Alastair Cook, speaking to Test Match Special: “It was an unbelievable way to end. It was strange week but I was just determined not to get out early because it would have been an anti-climax, but to go out like that is the prefect way to end.
“I don’t think there was any doubt I could still play but I certainly found the last 12-18 months harder.
“My greatest skill is to be able to take a lot of emotion out of my batting and to be able to take one ball at a time, and if there has ever been a test of that, it has been this week.
“To perform like that probably just shows my greatest strength.”