England openers Rory Burns (31 not out) and Haseeb Hameed (43 not out) batted resolutely for 32 overs to keep Team India’s bowlers at bay. Set a target of 368, England reached 77 for no loss at stumps on Day 4 at The Oval.
Despite plenty of runs to defend, Team India’s bowlers could not make much of an impact on England’s openers. Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja got a few balls to misbehave off the rough but was ineffective overall. Towards the end of play, Team India also burnt a review, going for an lbw appeal against Hameed off Mohammed Siraj’s bowling.
Earlier, Rishabh Pant (50) and Shardul Thakur (60) added a crucial 100 runs for the seventh wicket as Team India recovered from a poor first session to reclaim ascendancy on Day 4 of The Oval Test. When Virat Kohli was dismissed for 44, Team India’s lead was 213, with four wickets in hand. England were clearly in with a chance of making a comeback. Pant and Thakur ensured that the opportunity for England did not become a reality.
The duo scored contrasting half-centuries to put Team India in command. During the course of his innings, Thakur became only the sixth batsman in Test history to score half-centuries in each innings of a Test match while batting at No. 8. Just like in the first innings, the all-rounder hit straight and was pleasing on the eye yet again. The 29-year-old struck seven fours and a handsome six to justify his selection in the team as an all-rounder.
Pant, who came into bat under a lot of pressure, having failed to taste success with his ‘natural game’, decided to take his time. The fact that Thakur was batting freely at the other end helped his cause. Also, since there was no movement off the pitch or in the air, Pant’s defence wasn’t tested against the pacers. To his credit, he displayed patience and did nothing rash, hitting only four fours in his innings.
The only chance the Pant-Thakur duo gave England was when there was a terrible mix-up between the two in Team India’s 132nd over. Pant hit one towards midwicket and set off for a single. He kept going despite Thakur’s refusal. Eventually, he had to turn back. Moeen Ali had a lot of time to strike down the stumps but missed and Pant survived.
Spin eventually brought the downfall of both the set Team India batters. Thakur edged Joe Root to slip while Pant dragged one straight back to Moeen in his follow through. Umesh Yadav (25) and Jasprit Bumrah (24) made useful contributions as Team India posted an imposing 466 in their second innings.
Team India lose three in nervy first session
Resuming their innings at 270 for 3, Team India lost three wickets in the first session as England clawed back into the game. Ravindra Jadeja was trapped lbw by Chris Woakes for 17, which brought Ajinkya Rahane to the crease.
The Team India vice-captain’s innings lasted all of eight balls but was not short of drama. Rahane padded up to one from Woakes and was adjudged lbw. He managed to overturn the decision but perished to the same bowler, trying to hit him across the line. Rahane was trapped in front and decided not to review, walking back with a duck against his name.
Team India skipper Kohli (44) looked good but fell to Moeen’s off-spin, guiding one into the hands of slip. Pant and Thakur, however, put the visitors back on top with a fluent stand as England’s shoulders began to drop.
Following England’s defiant start with the bat, though, the match hangs in the balance heading into Day 5.
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