Winning at The Oval is just a matter of pride for India as they seek to pull the Test series back to a 3-2 defeat. However, Cook and Root were intent on rolling back the years together for England one last time.
Retiring opener Cook also passed the mark of Kumar Sangakkara to become the fifth-highest Test run-scorer of all time, before he clinched an emotional century – through the result of a horrendous overthrow – and his 33rd overall in England whites.
Then shortly after lunch, Root managed to sign off from an otherwise personally disappointing series with his 14th Test ton, as England extended their second-innings lead beyond 300.
Root (125) and Cook (147) finally were dismissed via back-to-back balls from the spin of debutant Hanuma Vihari, with the latter walking off to a rapturous ovation and handshakes from the Indian team.
Jonny Bairstow (18) and Jos Buttler (0) came and went but it was scant consolation for India – who must now concentrate on batting out a draw.
England declared on 423-8 and set India a mammoth target of 464. And the visitors looked all but finished when Jimmy Anderson removed Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara to draw himself level with Glenn McGrath as the top pace wicket-taker in Tests. Stuart Broad found Virat Kohli’s edge, who trudged off for a miserable golden duck.
KL Rahul offered brave resistance as he neared a half-century (46), but India face the almost impossible to save the Test on day five – creaking on 58-3.
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