England resist after India set 368-run target in 4th Test at The Oval
By Devarchit Varma September 6, 2021
India need all 10 wickets in the second English innings on the fifth and final day of the ongoing fourth Test at The Oval to take an unassailable lead in the five-match series which is currently levelled at 1-1.
After setting a record total of 368 runs against England in the second innings, India were left frustrated for the majority of the final session when Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns put on a strong resistance in the form of an unbeaten 77-run stand for the opening wicket, with the pitch increasingly looking like a batting paradise without any support for fast bowlers.
With another 291 runs required for England to win from about 90 overs on the final day, it can be said that all four results are possible. But India are still ahead given that they have a huge bank of runs through which they can pressurise the home team, which is susceptible against batting collapses.
With India having made a tactical error of not selecting Ravichandran Ashwin for the fourth Test on the trot on this England tour, Ravindra Jadeja will be the man in focus throughout on the day on Monday as India look to take all 10 wickets and record only their second victory at this venue in history.
Jadeja (13-4-28-0) did a lot of bowling for India from as early as in the eighth over of the innings but the England opening pair of Hameed and Burns did extremely well to fight back against the relentless Indian all-rounder. While Hameed reached 43 not out from 85 balls with the help of six hits to the fence, Burns was happy playing the second fiddle as he made 31 not out from 109 balls with the help of two boundaries.
But the day belonged to the Indian batsmen who continued to misfire but ended up putting a huge total on board. India finished at a high score of 466 in their first innings, having been bowled out for 191 in the first essay which had given England all the advantage in the contest early on.
While Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane once again disappointed with the bad — more so in the case of the latter who was dismissed for an eight-ball duck — the others stood up to deliver the crucial returns that India needed to out bat England from the contest.
Kohli made 44 from 96 balls with the help of seven boundaries and he was the sixth man to be dismissed a total of 312, with India barely ahead by 200 runs in the contest. With plenty of time left in the game and the possibility of a collapse in horizon, India needed their tail to once again resist for as long as possible and add as many runs as they could.
India were served extremely well by the pair of Rishabh Pant and Shardul Thakur who teamed up for the seventh wicket to add 100 runs from 155 balls and take India further ahead into the contest. Pant brought up his first fifty of the series, scoring 50 from 106 balls from only four boundaries. Thakur recorded his second consecutive half-century of the tour as he made 60 from 72 balls with the help of seven boundaries and one six. Thakur had earlier top scored for India with 57 runs in the first innings.
While Thakur deserves all the accolades that would come his way for producing a crucial performance with the bat at the need of the hour, greater emphasis must be given to the innings that Pant played. Having squandered plenty of opportunities early on in the series of making big scores, Pant curbed his attacking instant to the hilt and batted extremely responsibly to take India to a position of safety.
England were finally able to end their association when India were 412 in their second innings but there was further frustration in store for the home team. Umesh Yadav made a vital 25 from 23 balls with two sixes and a boundary whereas Jasprit Bumrah chipped in with another important score of 23 from 38 balls with four boundaries. In fact, with their last three batsmen, India added 52 runs more to their total which helped them post a total of 466 in the second innings and an overall lead of 367 runs. Chris Woakes was the pick among the bowlers from the English camp as he returned with figures of 32-8-83-3.
Devarchit Varma is a cricket writer and journalist with an experience of more than a decade, having worked at Hindustan Times (newspaper) and CricketCountry (website). Along with covering international and domestic cricket, he has also interviewed several current and former top players such as Rohit Sharma, Steve Smith, Dale Steyn, Michael Hussey, Jacques Kallis, Brendon McCullum, Shane Watson, Lasith Malinga and many more. He has also worked in other beats as a journalist in Bollywood (Reliance BigOye) and IT (SiliconIndia) industries.
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