|Fifth Specsavers Test, The Kia Oval (day three)|
|England 332 & 114-2 (43 overs): Cook 46*, Root 29*|
|India 292 (95 overs): Jadeja 86*, Vihari 56, Moeen 2-50|
|England lead by 154 runs|
Alastair Cook moved to 46 not out in his final innings as an international cricketer on day three of England’s fifth Test against India.
The opener, who is set to retire after his 161st Test, took the home side to 114-2 in their second innings, a lead of 154.
Cook received a standing ovation when he arrived at the crease and again when he left at the end of the day as he followed up his first-innings 71 with another knock typical of his 12-year Test career.
India had earlier been revived by 56 from debutant Hanuma Vihari and a swashbuckling 86 not out by Ravindra Jadeja.
Jadeja added 32 for the 10th wicket with last man Jasprit Bumrah as India, who found themselves 160-6 on Saturday, got up to 292 all out.
That left England 40 runs ahead and precariously placed, but Cook’s 125-ball stay ensured there would be no top-order panic to allow the tourists to continue their revival.
He was joined by his successor as captain, Joe Root, who moved fluently to 29 not out by the close.
England already have an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series.
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Cook’s last stand
Cook will end his career with more caps, runs, hundreds and catches than any other England player.
In this last hurrah, just as he did on Friday, the left-hander exhibited all of his trademarks in front of a crowd that held its breath for fear that each ball could be his last.
Cook left carefully and defended solidly. In one Mohammed Shami over, he prodded nervously as the ball went past the edge three times. By then, he had already been the subject of a wasted review for lbw from the spin of Jadeja.
When he scored, it was in time-honoured fashion; almost exclusively with nudges and clips off the pads, with one handsome straight drive thrown in.
Before this match, Cook averaged 18 in 2018. He described retiring as a weight off his shoulders and his first-innings effort was only his second half-century of the year. Now, the Essex man is just four runs away from passing 50 for the 90th time in his Test career.
And when he left on Sunday evening, waving his bat to a crowd on their feet for him for the fifth time in the match, the prospect of a send-off 33rd century was still in the offing.
Test bubbles in the background
While all eyes have been on Cook, this Test has ebbed and flowed like the rest of the series. England are chasing a 4-1 scoreline that would be harsh on the tourists, India are looking for the second win that their performances have deserved.
Just as Jos Buttler guided the England lower order on day two, Jadeja dragged India from a wretched position and left the hosts with only a moderate advantage.
Following up on the reversed momentum, the India bowlers made England work hard for every run. Each time that England looked like establishing a partnership, India struck.
Keaton Jennings was out shouldering arms for the second successive Test, misjudging a Shami inswinger that hit the off bail.
Moeen Ali again played as if intent on capitalising on the chance to bat at number three but he did survive a chance when he was dropped at second slip by KL Rahul. His dismissal came when he tried to be more expansive – bowled when driving loosely at a turning deliver from Jadeja.
Cook and Root ultimately left the hosts in the stronger position, but a familiar clatter of England wickets would give India renewed hope.
England halted by swashbuckling Jadeja
Jadeja sat out the first four Tests of this series, but after being preferred to off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, took four wickets with his left-arm spin in England’s first innings.
Resuming on eight with India 174-6, Jadeja and partner Vihari had to be both watchful and fortunate to get through the opening spells of James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
Vihari, who could have been lbw on nought on Saturday, played nicely through the off side but, after he edged behind off Moeen and Ishant Sharma fell in similar fashion, Shami holed out off Adil Rashid.
When the ninth wicket fell, Jadeja had cut and edged his way to 56 and would have had no chance to add to that had Jennings taken a relatively straightforward chance at silly point from Bumrah’s first ball.
Instead, as England dropped the field, Jadeja both farmed the strike and cut loose – Anderson was sent back over his head for a magnificent straight six.
When required, Bumrah defended bravely. With Jadeja flaying the ball to all parts, England became ragged and their frustration was only ended when Bumrah was run out attempting a very short and probably needless single.
England’s opening conundrum – analysis
by former England captain Michael Vaughan on Test Match Special
Keaton Jennings is a concern. I know national selector Ed Smith said he didn’t want two new openers for the winter tour to Sri Lanka but sometimes you have to be ruthless.
Is Keaton Jennings good enough? Is he getting picked by default because Cook is retiring? He will be under so much pressure in Sri Lanka.
Is it worth the risk of playing somebody with baggage? Or should they pick two fresh minds?
Look at Jadeja and Vihari in this match – they were fresh and just went out there and hit the ball.
Only those inside the dressing room know if Keaton Jennings has got something. I look at his game and he’s struggling.
I’m erring on the side of picking two fresh players.
Our batsmen showed fight – Farbrace
England assistant coach Paul Farbrace: “Alastair Cook has shown why he’s scored more runs than any other Englishman in this game, it’s been really tough.
“Even Keaton, he hasn’t got a score but the fact that the two of them batted together in that short period before the tea interval – if we’d lost two wickets there, India would’ve felt they were right back in the game.
“Moeen has shown a lot of skill but also that he can adapt his game and cope under pressure. We’re very pleased that the top four have played as well as they have.
“Cook is still there with a score to his name and Root looks like he was getting into his stride, playing quite fluently, he looked very balanced and organised.
“There is still something happening – the ball is swinging and the odd one is keeping low. But when you lead by 150 you don’t mind seeing the odd one keep low.”