Batters flourish to set up intriguing final day at the Oval

Batters flourish to set up intriguing final day at the Oval

The fourth Test is set to go down to the wire after India set England a massive 368-run target in the fourth innings thanks to half-centuries from Shardul Thakur and Rishabh Pant. India suffered another mini-collapse in the morning session on Day four, but a century stand from Thakur and Pant took the tourists to a commanding total of 466. England need to complete a record run chase of 368 at the Oval to go 2-1 up in the series, and the openers – Hameed and Burns – put on an unbroken 77-run stand to give the hosts a fighting chance heading into Day five.

India began the day at 270 for three, and Kohli and Jadeja were relatively untroubled against the new ball pair of Robinson and Anderson. Woakes’ introduction, however, proved to be the difference as the all-rounder trapped both Ravindra Jadeja and Ajinkya Rahane on the pads with some late movement of the pitch. India’s troubles compounded a few overs later when the captain Virat Kohli edged to first slip off Moeen Ali six runs short of his third consecutive half-century.

With the lead only at 213 and the tail exposed, India required the free-scoring pair of Rishabh Pant and Shardul Thakur to reign in their attacking instincts and grind it out to extend the lead. Pant was happy to milk singles and doubles off the spinners with the field spread out while Thakur played the role of aggressor, hitting some lovely shots through the line. Thakur hit a booming six over long-on off Ollie Robinson before reaching his second half-century of the match.

The English seamers toiled hard throughout the afternoon with very little rewards, and the wickets eventually came after spin was brought back into the attack. Root drew an outside edge from Thakur that was gobbled up by Overton at slip, while Rishabh Pant danced down the track and smashed the ball straight back to Moeen Ali after scoring his slowest Test half-century.

As has been the case throughout the series, the Indian tail wagged once again with Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah scoring 25 and 24 respectively to take India’s score above 450. India were finally dismissed with a lead of 367, leaving England around two hours of batting in the London sunshine before the close of play.

India were hoping to make some inroads into the English batting line-up before stumps, but the flat wicket ensured that England finished the day unscathed with both openers still at the crease. Ravindra Jadeja bowled 13 overs on the trot in the evening, but the left-armer struggled to find any rhythm and consistently land the ball in the footholes as England finished the day on 77-0 with 291 runs still to get on the final day to complete a record-breaking victory.