LONDON, Sept 10 (PTI): Alastair Cook became only the fifth batsman in Test cricket history to score hundreds in his first and last matches as England took a commanding 283-run lead in the fifth and final Test against India, on Monday.
Before Cook, Australia’s Reggie Duff, Bill Ponsford, Greg Chappell and India’s Mohammad Azharuddin had achieved the rare distinction of scoring hundreds in both debut and swansong Tests.
Cook combined with current skipper Joe Root (92) to keep Indian bowlers at bay in the first session on day four, with the hosts taking lunch at 243 for two.
Cook was unbeaten on 103, his 33rd Test century, while Root (92 batting) also approached his 14th Test hundred as they added 129 runs in the productive morning session after resuming the day at 114 for two.
Indian pacer Ishant Sharma started proceedings but soon went off the field complaining of ankle pain. Word from the team management is that the medical staff is assessing him as the pacer didn’t return for the remainder of the session.
Cook and Root continued to plunder runs at an easy pace as 55 runs came in the first hour of play. In doing so, the duo raised their 100-partnership off 171 balls as Cook started breaking records.
On 76, he went past Kumar Sangakkara as the highest-scoring left-handed batsman in Test cricket history, and will finish as the fifth-highest run-scorer overall, after Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Root scored his half-century off 81 balls as England crossed 200 in the 63rd over. He was dropped at slip by Ajinkya Rahane, on 46, off Ravindra Jadeja (1/100) in the 56th over.
The big moment came in the 70th over of this innings as an overthrow from Jasprit Bumrah (0/51) gave Cook his 33rd Test century off 210 balls, surpassing Australia’s Steve Waugh (32).
It was Cook’s seventh Test hundred against India, more than any other English batsman, ahead of Kevin Pietersen’s six hundreds. He is now also the second-highest run-scorer in Test cricket against India after Ponting (2555 runs).
With 15 hundreds in second innings in Test cricket, he also over took Sangakkara (14 hundreds).
India seemed to have gone off the boil especially with one strike bowler short, as the duo ground them for runs.