London, September 10: Alastair Cook bid farewell to England with a brilliant hundred to help his team close in on victory in the fifth Test against India at the Oval on Monday.
England's all-time leading Test run scorer Cook made 147 in his final innings before heading into international retirement as the hosts declared on 423-8 and needed seven wickets to triumph at stumps.
The left-hander, whose first cap included a century against India in Nagpur in 2006, brought up his ton in unorthodox fashion when Jasprit Bumrah hurled the ball to the boundary for overthrows, sparking a lengthy standing ovation from an adoring crowd.
However, Cook's fairytale knock was brought to an end by debutant Hanuma Vihari (3-37), who with the previous ball ended a 259-run stand with fellow centurion Joe Root (125).
Quick bursts from Ben Stokes (37 off 36 balls) and Adil Rashid (20 from 14) preceded captain Root's declaration, and England quickly made in-roads with the ball as they sought to wrap up a 4-1 win.
James Anderson (2-23) removed Shikhar Dhawan (1) and Cheteshwar Pujara (0) to leave him needing one more wicket to become the most prolific seamer in Test history with a 564th scalp, while Virat Kohli went for a golden duck at the hands of Stuart Broad (1-17) as India reached the close of play on 58-3.
Cook needed just two balls to move past 50 in a first session that England controlled, with India losing Ishant Sharma after the first over and struggling to contain the hosts' set duo.
The opener was able to wave his bat after Bumrah's costly error, with Root also removing his helmet to congratulate his team-mate on a 33rd Test hundred in his 161st appearance in the longest format.
Root followed suit after lunch with a quick single and celebrated converting a fifty after 11 failed attempts for his first Test ton in more than a year, before the measured Cook twice sent Ravindra Jadeja to the ropes in the same over.
Their union was finally broken when Root top-edged Vihari to deep midwicket and the spinner had Cook next ball, the 33-year-old cutting into the gloves of wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant to finish his career with 12,472 Test runs – fifth on the all-time list.
England wobbled with the losses of Jonny Bairstow (18) and Jos Buttler (0), but Stokes launched a maximum over long-on and Sam Curran (21) went through extra cover for six following successive boundaries from the inventive Rashid.
After Curran's misjudged slog off Vihari, Root had seen enough, and England got off to a tremendous start with the ball. Anderson trapped Dhawan from round the wicket in the third over and he had Pujara lbw three balls later – India's request for a review coming too late to be accepted by the on-field umpires.
Kohli feathered through to Bairstow off Broad to put India under the cosh on 2-3, but Rahul found the boundary with regularity and was just four runs short of a fifty as India reached the close requiring 406 runs on Tuesday.