India vs England: India cave in after Alastair Cook, Joe Root notch centuries
Alastair Cook marked his 291st and final test innings in fairytale fashion with a century as England closed in on victory over India on the fourth day of the fifth test on Monday.
A perfect farewell day for England turned into a nightmare for India as the fatigued visiting side collapsed in a heap, with ball and bat, to be staring at defeat in the Oval Test on Monday.
Skipper Virat Kohli, magnificent all series with great displays of intent, fell for a first-ball duck as the Indian top order batsmen seemed to lack the will for fight at the end of a disappointing second away series. India were 58/3 at stumps with KL Rahul on 46 after England had piled on the runs.
Alastair Cook had made it a glorious day for England as he and skipper Joe Root dominated India’s fatigued bowlers, brilliant this series but running on empty tanks. England pace spearhead James Anderson trapped Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara in one over to equal Aussie Glenn McGrath 563 scalps, a record for a Test fast bowler.It was all about Cook until then.
Helmet off, bat held aloft and face awash with emotion, Cook looked up in triumph to the stand where his pregnant wife Alice, their two daughters and parents were sitting as Jasprit Bumrah’s throw carried to the boundary, signalling his century in his final Test innings.
Test cricket thrives in England due to its value for tradition, and fans witnessed a perfect farewell knock. Cook produced a magnificent 147, becoming the fifth player in Test history to score a hundred in his first and last game.
The Oval gave Cook a long, standing ovation as he reached his record 33rd century before lunch. It again rose as one after he edged a tired cut off debutant Hanuma Vihari’s off-spin after lunch. India players too joined in to appreciate the 161-Test veteran, but were flattened as Root smashed 125, his 14th Test century, after being dropped on 46 and 94 by Ajinkya Rahane and Pujara. Root and Cook raised a 259-run third wicket partnership, leaving India clueless.
England declared at 423/8 after tea, a lead of 463, and India looked like they would cave in as they did in the final Test of 2014 at the Oval. Kohli chased a wide ball from Stuart Broad that seamed away, edging to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow. He has battled for concentration in the last two Tests and despite Pujara’s century in Southampton, no other Indian batsman has looked in command.
Cook, 33, had managed one fifty in 2018, influencing his decision to retire coming to the Oval. His 71 and 147 made amends. Root leapt in joy on reaching his century, thrilled his return to No 4 had paid off.
India faced a demanding day after England resumed on 154/2. Ishant Sharma left after bowling the morning’s first over due to a left ankle strain. He had got Cook 11 times, thrice this series. Without him, Kohli’s plans to get Bumrah to pitch it short and use Ravindra Jadeja at the other end didn’t work.
Cook played fluently with Root attacking as India’s bowling discipline dissipated. England scored 129 and 121 in the first two sessions, leaving Indian bowlers to wait for something to give. It did, when debutant Vihari got Root and Cook off successive deliveries. He also took a Ben Stokes sweep flush on his helmet but carried on after the physio examined him.
First Published: Sep 10, 2018 23:05:16