Cook keeps fairytale ending alive in farewell Test
ALASTAIR Cook can dream of a 33rd Test century in the final innings of his record-breaking career after steering England to stumps on day three of the fifth Test at The Oval.
Cook was still unbeaten on 46, and England 2-114, as the hosts extended their overall lead to 154 after bowling India out for 292 on Sunday night.
Home advantage on day three would have been more substantial without the revival engineered by India's charismatic all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja (86 not out) and Hanuma Vihari (56).
After India were bowled out, Cook was cheered and clapped to the middle by his fourth standing ovation of the week.
He soon lost his opening partner Keaton Jennings who shouldered arms to Mohammed Shami and lost his off-bail.
It was an unedifying end to Jennings' largely fallow Test summer with the bat, especially after he had earlier dropped the catch at short-leg which reprieved India number 11 Jasprit Bumrah, and cost England 32 runs.
Cook spent 26 balls stuck on 13 either side of tea.
But he uncovered occasional fluency in an unbroken 50-run stand with captain Joe Root after Jadeja had spun one through the gate to bowl Moeen Ali - and there were no major alarms to the close.
As has been the curious case throughout this match, bat dominated ball before lunch - thanks to Jadeja and Vihari this time.
James Anderson, still three wickets short of overhauling Australia great Glenn McGrath's world record of 363 for any pace bowler, drew a blank alongside Stuart Broad.
Debutant Vihari completed his half-century from 104 balls. It took Jadeja nine deliveries more and into the afternoon before he cut Moeen for his seventh boundary to reach the same milestone.
Vihari's dismissal, caught-behind pushing up the line as Mooen's arm ball drifted across him, was the only one before lunch.
Ishant Sharma went in a near action replay to Moeen in the early afternoon, and then Shami got greedy against Adil Rashid and holed out at long-on.
Jadeja would have been left stranded at 260 all out if Jennings had held a sharp catch off bat and pad when Rashid's googly was too much for Bumrah.
As Root's field placings and bowling changes sent out mixed messages, Bumrah faced only 14 out of 54 deliveries - and Jadeja memorably smashed the second new ball straight back over Anderson's head for six.
India's fun, and England's frustration, finally ended when Bumrah was run out chancing a tight single.
Then, of course, it was over to Cook - one last time.
England assistant coach Paul Farbrace said the former captain would be badly missed on and off the field when he retired.
"He just seems to cope with everything that's in front of him and I think as much as we're going to miss his runs and his catches, I think the calming influence that he has among the team, among the staff among everybody," he said.
"What he manages to do is make everyone feel very welcome, very part of things, young players, old players."