DateLine: 10th September 2018
By Andy Jalil at the Oval
England poised for comfortable win in fifth Test
This was yet another milestone that Cook had reached in addition to so many others. He had already become the highest Test run scorer as an England player and the fifth highest in the world with an aggregate of 12,472 from 161 Tests – highest number of Tests for an England player – behind Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid. Indeed, he became the highest run scorer in the world for a left-hander, going ahead of Kumar Sangakkara who has 12,400 runs.
With their declaration on 423 for eight in the second innings in addition to the 40-run lead from the first innings, England had set India an unlikely target of 464 to make in an hour-and-a-half’s play on the fourth day and all of the fifth. With such a daunting task India’s focus would be on saving the match rather than chase runs. As it happened, in the 18 overs that were bowled, India lost the first three wickets in 3.2 overs.
James Anderson grabbed the first two in his second over trapping both Shekhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara lbw which leaves him two wickets short of beating Glenn McGrath’s tally of 563. Stuart Broad then, in his second over, had Virat Kohli held behind on the first ball that the India captain received and surprisingly reached for it, hanging his bat for a thin edge. That had broken the backbone of the Indian batting. At stumps, India had managed to get to 58 without further loss but it is probably only a matter of time on the fifth day before England can wrap up the series with an emphatic win in this final Test.
Earlier, England had begun the fourth day on 114 for two with Cook four short of his second half century of the match and Joe Root on 29. Their unbroken overnight stand of 52 was to be extended to a record breaking one for the third wicket for England against India of 259 during which the India bowling was totally dominated.
It didn’t take long for Cook to get the 4 runs for his fifty. He did so as he whipped Jasprit Bumrah to square leg for his 57th Test half century, following his 71 in the first innings and that was an achievement in itself in his last Test knock. But he went on, while Root at the other end picked up runs too. A sweep off Jadeja took him to 45 before his next boundary brought his 42nd Test half century.
Frequent bowling changes by India did nothing to unsettle either batsman. Root confidently went down the pitch to lift Jadeja for six over long-on to get to 62 while Cook progressed to 95 with an effortless straight push for four. Then just about a quarter-of-an hour before lunch came the milestone for Cook when, on 96, he pushed Jadeja to mid-off for a single but an overthrow from Bumrah went over the boundary to give him 5 runs to bring yet another standing ovation for him in this Test match.
Two overs after lunch, which was taken on 243 for two, with Cook on 103 and Root on 92, Pujara, at first slip, dropped Root on 94. The England captain soon reached his fourteenth Test century and then on 125 from 190 balls, provided Hanuma Vihari with his maiden Test wicket on his Test debut. Remarkably, the debutant was soon on a hat-trick as his next ball dismissed Cook. It was a delivery just outside off stump and kept a bit low to which Cook got a thin edge as he tried to cut. His 147 had taken 286 balls of which 14 were hit for fours.
England were in lead by 361 at Cook’s departure and before tea two more wickets had fallen. Jonny Bairstow played-on to Mohammad Shami and Jos Buttler badly mistimed his slog to leg to be caught at backward point. Before the declaration England lost Ben Stokes for 37 from 36 balls as the slog had been on for quick runs and Sam Curran went for 20, leaving Adil Rashid not out with a quick 20. Vihari, would not have been unhappy with his Test debut having hit a half century at a time when runs were required by his side and then finishing with three for 37.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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