Alastair Cook's final Test innings had everything that would urge kids to take up sport, let alone cricket.
The final Test of the ongoing five-match series was a dead rubber and Cook had done everything one would aspire to achieve in Test cricket. However, the record-breaking left-hander wanted to go the extra mile and make his final innings unforgettable.
He had missed a ton in the first innings by 29 runs and thus was in no mood to hang up his boots without getting to the three-figure mark in his final international knock for England.
After surviving a difficult period of play in the final session on Day 3, Cook was looking as fluent as ever on Monday morning, watched on by a sea of his admirers at the Oval stands.
Cook, as usual, didn't disappoint as he got a hundred for the 33rd and the final time in his Test career. Helped by some ordinary fielding by the Indians who had seemingly given up hopes of rescuing the Test, the 33-year-old achieved the milestone.
Heartwarming gestures from the Oval crowd, Team India
What followed the landmark moment was certainly a great advertisement for cricket.
The English crowd was up on its feet, giving a prolonged standing ovation to one of the greatest servants of the game. The cheering went on and on and seemed as if it would never stop even as Cook was ready to get on with the game and face the next ball.
Cook, at one point during the prolonged celebration, didn't exactly know how to react but kept raising his bat in acknowledgment of love and admiration he was getting.
The southpaw's fairytale knock eventually came to an end when debutant Hanuma Vihari dismissed him at 147. By then, Cook along with captain Joe Root had taken the game away from India with a 259-run stand.
Nonetheless, the frustration of the long partnership between Cook and Root didn't stop Virat Kohli's men from making the evening even more memorable.
In a heartwarming gesture, they swiftly went up to the former England captain and shook hands with him, one by one.
As Sunil Gavaskar pointed out during his post-day analysis show on Sony Six, it didn't seem the Indian cricketers had planned the gesture. It happened out of respect for Cook, who was also greeted with a guard of honour as he walked out to bat on Sunday afternoon.
That was a very very special moment ... All of us who are privileged to be here today will remember that forever ... #Cook #100 ... If any person deserves that send off it’s Alastair ... Fairytales do happen ...— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) September 10, 2018
A century in your last innings. And an ovation that looked like it would never end. It was, as Joe Root said, "written in the stars". What a moment for the mighty Alastair Cook.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) September 10, 2018
Another standing ovation for Cook and lovely gesture from the Indian batsmen to let him leave the field first. What a day's cricket. #ENGvsIND— Joel Taylor (@JoelTaylorhack) September 10, 2018
Amazing emotional scenes at The Oval as Cook gets a century in his last test innings. Prolonged standing ovation for a master batsman and England great.— Rob Summerfield (@RobSummerfield1) September 10, 2018
Pure class from the Indian players. Applauded throughout the standing ovation and shook Cook's hand as he walked off at lunch. #ENGvIND— Jake Bostock (@JakeBostock) September 10, 2018
During the course of his gritty knock, Cook also went past Kumar Sangakkara on the all-time list of leading run-scorers in Tests.
With 12,472 runs, he finished as the fifth-highest run-getter in the longest format of the game behind Sachin Tendulkar (15,921), Ricky Ponting (13,378), Jacques Kallis (13,289) and Rahul Dravid (13.288).
Cook had started his career with a century against India in Nagpur in 2006. He finished it with a ton against the same opposition, this time in front of his home crowd.
It was indeed a deserved send-off to the man who had been a great ambassador for the sport over the last 12 years.
Thank You, Chef.