INDIA TOUR OF ENGLAND, 2018
Cricbuzz Staff •
Cook signed off in style by scoring 147 in his last Test innings. © Getty
Two hundreds in the same innings, a double-century stand and a 400-plus lead – none of these had happened before in this series for England but Alastair Cook and Joe Root bucked the trend with centuries that pretty much quashed India’s hopes of finishing with a consolation victory after surrendering the series at Southampton.
The Oval was the stage for several milestones as Cook signed off in style by scoring 147 in his last Test innings while Root (125) ended his search for a three-figure score, with the third wicket pair’s mammoth 259-run association powering England to 364 for 6 at Tea on Day 4, leading by 404.
Faced with the task of denying India any avenue to sneak back into the game on the fourth morning, Cook went about that endeavour by playing positive cricket. Finding the fence regularly in the first hour, having become become only the second batsmen to register fifty-plus scores in both innings of his first and last Tests, the left-hander ensured that he rotated the strike well along with Root to prevent the bowlers from settling into a rhythm.
With Ishant off the field after bowling only one over to tend to some pain in his left ankle, the onus was on Bumrah to get early wickets. He employed short-ball tactics and kept the batsmen on their toes, although he wasn’t able to reap any rewards apart from leaving Root in an awkward position fending away to gully where, unfortunately, a fielder wasn’t positioned.
At the other end, Jadeja didn’t trouble the batsmen much as Root grew in confidence as the session progressed, beginning to employ the sweep to the spinner for two fours in an over. He soon brought up his second fifty-plus score of the series, before coming down the track and thumping one over long-on for a maximum. Root also had a lucky break before he reached the half-century mark, being put down by Ajinkya Rahane at first slip.
Plenty of milestones came Cook’s way as he became only the fifth cricketer in Test history to score tons in his first and last Tests. He also became the most successful left-hander in Test history, going past Kumar Sangakkara’s tally of 12400 Test runs and was involved in a century stand for the 77th time in his career, only bettered by Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting. He also became the second highest run-getter against India in Tests and scored the most tons for England against India.
Meanwhile, Root was catching up quickly with his partner, approaching his first three-figure score in more than a year as he went back unbeaten along with Cook at the lunch break. Root’s wait for a ton would have continued when Shami found the outside edge of his bat early in the second session. However, the England captain had luck on his side as he was put down for a second time in the innings, with Cheteshwar Pujara shelling a catch at first slip on 94. The skipper went on to bring up his 14th Test ton as he and Cook piled on India’s misery by extending their partnership.
With Ishant off the field and Mohammed Shami appearing to be struggling a bit with his fitness, India were running out of bowling options which made things easier for Cook and Root as they milked the bowling without any trouble. The boundaries came from time to time, singles and twos were achieved easily, and England continued to build while India watched on helplessly.
It was nearly six years since England had last achieved a double-century stand against India in Tests and more than seven years since they did that at home, which was also at The Oval. Cook and Root ensured that record was set straight as they extended their partnership past 250 before both departed off successive deliveries.
Root fell in his attempt to play a slog sweep, giving Hanuma Vihari his maiden Test wicket before Cook edged the next ball to the ‘keeper which ended his final act that lasted for 286 deliveries. Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler followed quickly back into the hut, and Shami then found the outside edge of Ben Stokes’s bat only for the ball to land short of Virat Kohli at first slip on two occasions. Stokes remained unbeaten at Tea along with Sam Curran to extend the lead past 400.
Brief scores: England 332 & 364/6 (Alastair Cook 147, Joe Root 125; Hanuma Vihari 2-24) lead India 292 by 404 runs.