Cook fairytale century puts England in commanding position at the Oval

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England reached tea with a lead of 404 following an afternoon session which saw Alastair Cook hit a fairytale farewell century in his final Test innings.

Cook’s mammoth third-wicket partnership of 259 with captain Joe Root put England firmly in control of the final Test and on the brink of a 4-1 series victory after reaching 364 for six at the break.

The two fell in successive balls and were followed before tea by Jonny Bairstow, who inside-edged Mohammed Shami on to his stumps, and then Jos Buttler who skewed to backward-point off Ravi Jadeja to go for a second-ball duck.

Buttler’s dismissal – which came in the search for quick runs – delayed the inevitable declaration from Root, which remains almost certain to come at some point in the evening session.

Alastair Cook made an emotional departure after being dismissed
Alastair Cook made an emotional departure after being dismissed (Adam Davy/PA)

The end came when he nicked behind to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant off the bowling of Hanuma Vihari, ending his final Test knock after 286 deliveries.

The opener, who also registered a half-century in the first innings, began the day on 46 and soon moved past 50 with a trademark clip of his legs for four off Jasprit Bumrah.

Yet his sights were clearly set much higher and he continued to make steady progress.

His next landmark came as he reached 76 with a single into the legside to surpass Sangakkara and, in addition, become the most prolific left-hander in Test cricket. Only Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid have scored more runs.

Cook actually reached his hundred fortuitously, hitting a single into the onside – and then watching as Jasprit Bumrah’s wayward throw ran away for four overthrows.

Cook celebrated by acknowledging the crowd, hugging Root and then punching his fist towards the sky. He grinned broadly as he received a lengthy standing ovation.

At the other end Root, who resumed on 29, accumulated quickly and passed 100 in 151 deliveries with 11 fours and a six.

It was his first century since last summer and was a classy, fluent effort as India – without the injured Ishant Sharma – struggled to contain the runs.

He was twice reprieved, however, as he was dropped on 46 by Ajinkya Rahane and on 94 by Cheteshwar Pujara at slip. The first was a difficult opportunity while Pujara may have been unsighted by the diving Pant for the second.

His partnership with Cook was worth 259 when he found substitute fielder Hardik Pandya at deep midwicket trying to clear the boundary off Vihari. Cook was dismissed off the very next ball and received yet another standing ovation as he left the field.

The quick dismissals of Bairstow and Buttler mean England resume with Ben Stokes and Curran at the crease.

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