Tea report: India chip away after Alastair Cook, Joe Root tons
Alastair Cook scored 147 in his final innings for England. (Getty Image)

It needed a bizarre piece of fielding, 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 big 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’s century dwarfed everything, even Joe Root’s first hundred in over a year. But the England skipper wouldn’t mind. Today was all about his idol.

India had to wait 67 long overs before they could snap the massive 260-run stand between Root and Cook. With Cook and Root departing in quick succession, India pumped adrenaline to pick up two more to end the second session with something to show. Despite that, England were ahead of India by 404 at tea, their score reading 354/6.

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 as England continued to grind and send India on a leather hunt.

The bowling team 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 key. But nothing, absolutely nothing happened for India in the morning session and the better half of the afternoon. The line at which Jadeja bowled, mostly outside off, was dealt emphatically by both batsmen. He was swept by Root and driven by Cook. The ploy to land the ball in the rough was negated by both batsmen who kept lunging forward.

In between came two chances for India to send Root back, but both were grassed. Jadeja pitched it short and Root, then on 46, went back to offer a nick, but Ajinkya Rahane slipped a tough chance at slips. Later, six short of a century, seeing Rishabh Pant put in a dive hindered Cheteshwar Pujara’s vision at first slip, and he put it down. Barring those couple blips, England batted flawlessly. It was the first time since 1998 that England recorded a partnership of 200 in the second innings.

Root was the aggressor of the two, but that didn’t mean Cook went into any shell. Second over of the day, he flicked Jasprit Bumrah to bring up his fifty, and never looked back. Root, on the other hand, was belligerent from the start of the day. Sweeps aside, Root plundered Jadeja down the ground and almost bullied his way to a 14th Test century.

India struck when England looked to be on their way to a declaration. Hanuma Vihari, removed Root and Cook off successive deliveries to highlight his debut even further. Root miscued to deep midwicket, and the next delivery Cook edged to Pant while trying to cut close to his body. He walked off the ground to a rousing ovation, having shaken hands with all Indian players. Two more wickets fell soon after, with Shami cleaning up Jonny Bairstow and Jadeja had Jos Buttler out caught for nought.

Brief score: England 322 and 364/6 (Alastair Cook 147, Joe Root 125) lead India 292 all out by 404 runs at tea on Day 4.