England in driver's seat as chance for Alastair Cook to end Test career with hundred at The Oval
Alastair Cook can dream of a 33rd Test century in the final innings of his career after steering England to stumps against India at The Oval.
Cook was still battling away unbeaten, on 46, as he so often has throughout his 161 Tests, in a total of 114-2 as England extended their lead to 154 after bowling India out for 292.
Home advantage on Day 3 of this fifth Test would have been still more substantial without the revival engineered by India’s charismatic all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja (86 not out) and Hanuma Vihari (56).
The tourists resumed on 174-6 and appeared sure to trail significantly until the seventh-wicket pair took their stand to 77, and 132 were added in all for the last four to fall.
As Cook then set out to consolidate, he was cheered and clapped to the middle by his fourth standing ovation of the week – before a handshake from India captain Virat Kohli as he prepared to take guard.
Cook gets another standing ovation
He soon lost opening partner Keaton Jennings in worrying circumstances as the man expected to try to form the backbone of England innings shouldered arms to Mohammed Shami and lost his off-bail.
It was an unedifying end to Jennings’ fallow Test summer with the bat, especially after he had earlier dropped the catch at short-leg which reprieved India No 11 Jasprit Bumrah and cost England 32 runs.
Cook spent 26 balls stuck on 13 either side of tea.
But he uncovered occasional fluency, in an unbroken 50-run stand with captain Joe Root after Jadeja had spun one through the gate to bowl Moeen Ali – and there were no major alarms to the close.
As has been the curious case throughout the Test, bat dominated ball before lunch, thanks to Jadeja and Vihari this time.
Anderson's tongue-in-cheek tribute to Cook
James Anderson, still three wickets short of overhauling Australia great Glenn McGrath’s world record of 363 for any pace bowler, drew a blank alongside Stuart Broad.
Debutant Vihari, who would have been lbw for nought to Broad the previous evening if England had gone to DRS, completed his fifty from 104 balls.
It took Jadeja, returning for his first Test of the series, nine deliveries more and into the afternoon before he cut Moeen for his seventh boundary to reach the same milestone.
Vihari’s dismissal, caught-behind pushing up the line as Moeen’s arm ball drifted across him, was the only one before lunch.
Ishant Sharma went in near action replay to Moeen in early afternoon, and then Shami got greedy against Adil Rashid and holed out at long-on.
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Jadeja would have been left stranded at 260 if Jennings had held a sharp catch off bat and pad when Rashid’s googly was too much for Bumrah.
But he did not – and Jadeja, who had celebrated his fifty with a trademark swish of his imaginary warrior’s sword – cashed in as the buccaneering presence in a last-wicket stand.
India’s fun, and England’s frustration, finally ended when Bumrah was run out chancing a tight single.
Then, of course, it was over to Cook – one last time.
How India's resistance ended
Meanwhile, Anderson has been fined 15 per cent of his match fee after breaching level one of the International Cricket Council code of conduct during the second day of the fifth Test against India.
Anderson, 36, made his disappointment clear with umpire Kumar Dharmasena when he gave Virat Kohli not out lbw on 16 in the 29th over of India's first innings at The Oval.
Anderson snatched his cap and jumper from Dharmasena and then spoke to the Sri Lankan in an aggressive manner.
The Lancastrian admitted to breaching article 2.1.5 of the code, which relates to "showing dissent at an umpire's decision during an international match", and accepted the sanction to ensure no formal hearing was required.