One of the many standing ovations that Alastair Cook has greeted in this test had barely died when Jimmy Anderson caught a part of the applause for himself.
Most of the competition was about England's leading test run scorer, but England's leading test wicket-taker prepared for his own place in the record books. He needed only two halves to tie up with Glenn McGrath from Australia at 563 – most by every sailor. He needed 12 balls.
After starting with a girl, Anderson waved the third episode of his second to the pads of the left-handed Shikhar Dhawan, who was so good he did not even bother to give a review – a rarity for opening batsmen in a summer in which they have seized an available lifeline.
Jimmy Anderson moved on level with Glenn McGrath in Australia at 563 Test wickets on Monday
|M Muralitharan (ICC / SL)
SK Warne (AUS)
A Kumble (INDIA)
GD McGrath (AUS)
JM Anderson (ENG)
CA Walsh (WI)
N Kapil Dev (INDIA)
SCJ Broad (ENG)
Sir RJ Hadlee (NZ)
HMRKB Herath (SL)
The present of 2007
Pujara had made a duck, India was one by two and Anderson had two for none. He was on a par with McGrath and his bowling average stood at 26.81 – the lowest since the end of his fifth test, long ago in 2003, three years before Cook's debut.
If someone is big for the exit, another one gets better. It is difficult to know which English cricket should be more grateful for this.
And so the stage for Anderson was to pass McGrath with the wicket of Kohli, the wicket he craved most, and place the seal on a perfect day for English cricket – so perfect that an overdue century for Joe Root came and went as if he had dropped them all summer.
But the leading captain of India continued to dodge him. He pushed gently on the first ball he saw, from Stuart Broad, he was trailing by Jonny Bairstow. It was an understandably tired photo, the result perhaps of carrying the burden of his side since the first Test in Edgbaston.
And it summed up the way in which the spirit of India has gradually been discarded. They are at risk of losing 4-1 when, if they have a good wind, they can win 3-2. It can be a cruel game.
Anderson celebrates after taking the wicket of India & # 39; s Shikhar Dhawan on Monday night
Anderson and the English team celebrate it after the bowler Cheteshwar Pujara sells for Ibw
And so, while Kohli has been fired twice in these five tests by each of Broad, Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes, and once per piece by Sam Curran and Moeen Ali, he is not fired by the bowler who has problems had him the most.
Even while Anderson took part in the celebrations and read the scoreboard two by three, he would not have been a man if a small part of him had not been mesmerized by the injustice of it all. This summer the beautiful Kohli treated the magnificent Anderson with a respect that borders on paranoia. The No. 1 batsman in the world has taken everything that the No. 1 bowler of the world has thrown at him and somehow has appeared unharmed.
He was repeatedly beaten out of the stump and dropped three times, and in the first rounds he barely survived a lbw shout – Anderson sent the rejection to a dark place, leading to words with the referee, a fine and a disciplinary rejection point.
Anderson is congratulated by his English teammates after taking the symbolic wicket
But despite these frustrations, Anderson currently has 23 wickets in this series – five more than anyone on both sides – with an average of 17. And he has kidnapped 13 of the 17 Indians to have beaten. Almost no one has been safe.
As to underline the point, Anderson McGrath came close after approaching his double battle when the ball went to Cook at the first start of a part of KL Rahul. England asked for a review, in the hope that India was about to collapse to eight for four. But he was neither caught nor legally-and Anderson will have to wait.
When he passes McGrath on Tuesday, there is only one trio of spin-bowling legends ahead of him: Anil Kumble at 619 Test wickets, Shane Warne at 708 and Muttiah Muralitharan at 800.
We were in the presence of greatness at The Oval – and that was not all because of Alastair Cook.
Anderson aside, it was a memorable day for Alastair Cook who hit a century in his final test