Lunch report: Cook final ton, Root half-century expand England’s lead
Alastair Cook will finish his Test career with a century. (Getty Images)

It needed a bizarre piece of fielding in the outfield, but Alastair Cook had completed his fairytale, a hundred in his final innings for England, his 33rd and final. With two needed to get there, he tapped a delivery from Ravindra Jadeja and scampered for a single, but an overthrow converted it into five. Off came the helmet, up went the red Grey Nicolls. The Oval was on its feet. It was a delightful moment for Cook, one that he richly deserved.

He became just the fourth player in the history of the game to begin and end his Test career with a century, and ensured England got themselves to a position where 4-1 looks a possible outcome.

Cook and Joe Root scored at a brisk rate on Day 4 morning, accumulating 129 runs at over four an over for England to reach 243/2 at lunch, extending their lead to 283. If the pace at which they scored in the first session is any indication, India might as well be in for a long leather hunt.

Resuming four short of a fifty, Cook got to another landmark. He overtook Kumar Sangakkara for the most successful left-hander in the format and went fifth on the all-time leading run-getters in Tests. With Root, he brought up the 100-run stand inside the first hour. England continued to grind.

India were hampered by the absence of Ishant Sharma, who had to leave the field due to a sore ankle. In his absence, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Jadeja remained the key. But nothing happened for India this morning, and the line at which Jadeja bowled, mostly outside off, was dealt emphatically by both batsmen. Everytime he erred in line, Jadeja was swept by Root and drove by Cook. The ploy to land the ball in the rough was negated by Cook, who kept lunging forward.

In between came India’s only moment in the game, which they let slip. Jadeja pitched it short and Root went back to offer a nick. But Ajinkya Rahane slipped a tough chance at slips. Barring that, Cook and Root were clinical. Eager to finish the series on a high, Root remains eight short of a century. But despite being the aggressor, his effort was dwarfed by what his partner was doing at the other end. If and when Root gets to the three-figure mark, his first in over a year, that won’t change. But the England skipper won’t mind. Today is all about his idol.

Brief score: England 322 and 243/2 (Alastair Cook 103*, Joe Root 92*) lead India 292 all out by 283 runs at lunch on Day 4.