Alastair Cook makes impact in final Test appearance with unbeaten half-century
The England opener will end his 12-year career at the conclusion of this Test against India at The Oval.
Alastair Cook was eyeing a 33rd Test century as he made a positive start to his final appearance for England.
The former captain was unbeaten on 66 as England reached 123 for one at tea on the first day of the fifth Test against India at The Oval.
Cook had been the focus of much attention before the game having decided to call time on his prolific 12-year international career at the end of the series.
He was afforded a series of tributes, with a commemorative cap presented to him to mark his 161st and last appearance and the Indian team and umpires forming a guard of honour for his walk to the crease.
Cook, England’s record Test runscorer, was given an early chance to bat after his successor as skipper Joe Root won the toss.
He did not disappoint, comfortably surpassing his previous best score of the series, 29.
He was, however, grateful for a reprieve on 37 when, shortly after lunch, Ajinkya Rahane put down a straightforward chance at gully.
It then became attritional at times for Cook as India applied pressure in the afternoon but, by tea, the only blemish on England’s scorecard was the dismissal of Keaton Jennings for 23.
Jennings put on 60 with Cook in a steady start but then lost concentration, turning Ravrindra Jadeja to KL Rahul at leg slip. The left-hander, under pressure for his place, punched his bat in frustration at another relative failure.
Moeen Ali, again batting at number three, was dropped by Virat Kohli at third slip while on two – a difficult chance – but dug in to support Cook. He withstood some fine bowling, particularly from Mohammed Shami, to battle his way to 23 not out.
Jadeja was playing as India, trailing 3-1 in the series, made two changes to their team. He replaced Ravi Ashwin while batsman Hanuma Vihari was handed a debut in place of all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
England were unchanged although Jonny Bairstow was due to reclaim wicketkeeping duties from Jos Buttler after recovering from a broken finger.