Alastair Cook scores fairytale hundred in farewell Test
LONDON (Agencies): Alastair Cook marked his final Test innings with a storybook hundred as England piled on the runs against India at the Oval on Monday.
England were 243 for two in their second innings at lunch on the fourth day of the fifth Test, with Cook 103 not out and Joe Root, his successor as England captain, 92 not out.
Together the pair had so far shared an unbroken stand of 181 for the third wicket, with England — who had already won this five-match series at 3-1 up — a commanding 283 runs ahead.
Cook is retiring from international cricket after this match and Monday’s innings meant he became just the fifth player and first Englishman to score a hundred in both their first and last Tests after Australia´s Reggie Duff, Bill Ponsford and Greg Chappell and India´s Mohammad Azharuddin.
England resumed on 114 for two, already 154 runs ahead, with Cook 43 not out and Root unbeaten on 29. A capacity crowd, willing Essex left-handed opener Cook to score a hundred, gave him a standing ovation as he walked out to bat on a sunny morning.
And they were soon giving him another when Cook, from his second ball of the bay, turned fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah off his pads to complete a 127-ball fifty with his fourth four. Cook looked in fine touch, late cutting left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja for another well-struck boundary.
Root followed up by sweeping Jadeja for two well-struck fours as runs came briskly. But Root had a reprieve on 46 when he edged a forcing shot off Jadeja only for Ajinkya Rahane to drop the sharp chance at slip. Cook and Root extended England´s lead to beyond 200 runs before bringing up a century stand of their own.
Root then late cut paceman Mohammed Shami precisely to go to an 81-ball fifty with his eighth four. When Cook squirted a legside single off Shami he moved past Sri Lanka great Kumar Sangakkara´s tally of 12,400 Test runs and into fifth place in the list of all-time leading Test run-scorers.
That same shot also saw Cook succeed Sangakkara as the most prolific left-handed batsman in Test history, with the crowd rising to its feet to applaud him yet again. At the other end Root went down the pitch to drive Jadeja for a soaring six. And when Shami made the mistake of dropping short on a good pitch, Root pulled him for a resounding four.
The 33-year-old Cook, about to become a father for the third time, was already England´s leading Test run-scorer and century maker, with this match seeing him extend his national appearance record to 161 Tests.
And he completed his 33rd Test century in unusual fashion when, having run a single to go to 97, a wild overthrow from Bumrah gave him four bonus runs.
The crowd rose to give Cook, who made 71 in the first innings, his 10th standing ovation of the match as he celebrated a 210-ball century featuring eight fours and that five which took him to three figures.