England 290 and 77 for 0 (Hameed 43*, Burns 31*) need 291 more runs to beat
India 191 and 466 (Rohit 127, Pujara 61, Thakur 60, Pant 50, Woakes 3-83)
India started favourites at the start of play on Day 4 in this Test match but a more nuanced observation would have told you that the game was evenly poised. India’s middle-order has not performed according to expectations on most occasion in this series. That was the only disadvantage for India going in to the fourth day of this Test match.
Coming to the fourth day of the Oval Test, there was nothing much in the pitch for the bowlers. The pitch has turned out to be a batting beauty as the game progressed into Day 3 and Day 4 turned out to be no different.
India lose three wickets in the morning session
India resumed their innings at 270 for three on the fourth day. They lost three important wickets in the first session which included the wickets of captain Virat Kohli who just scored 44 runs and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane who was not able to score a single run in this innings. India scored a mere 59 runs in this session.
Ajinkya Rahane once again disappointed his fans and Team India. The poor performance continues for the vice-captain. After the failures in the first four matches, Rahane should be rested in the last Test against England and players like Hanuma Vihari, Suryakumar Yadav or Mayank Agrawal should be given a chance in place of him.
This time, Virat Kohli stayed on the crease for a long time but was not able to convert his 44 runs to a big hundred which has been precariously missing in his last 52 innings. Although, Kohli did complete his 1000 runs against the English side in Tests. Ravindra Jadeja was once again promoted to number 5 in this innings but he was unable to make his presence felt on the crease.
Lower middle-order batters Shardul and Pant show they are not exactly low on inspiration
After the fall of three quick wickets in the first session of Day 4, Rishabh Pant and Shardul Thakur took charge and handled the innings very well. They stitched a terrific 100-run partnership in which Shardul Thakur was the senior player who took charge and scored a quickfire 60 runs which included seven fours and a six. This partnership saved India from a massive collapse. Both the players played with patience. They respected the good balls and punished the bad balls in this partnership.
Shardul Thakur once again proved that his inclusion in the squad was justified with a quickfire 60 runs which included seven fours and a six. He is slowly settling down to be called a perfect all-rounder. Shardul Thakur’s 57 and 60 runs in this Test match now makes him the ninth player in Test cricket history to score 50-plus runs in both innings of a Test match, batting at number eight or lower. Bhuvneshwar Kumar had earlier achieved this feat at number 8 for India against England at Nottingham in 2014.
Rishabh Pant also might have found his form back with this innings as he played a good 50-runs knock which included four boundaries. He played an innings out of his comfort zone and just opposite of his normal playing style.
Subsequently, the lower-order batter Jasprit Bumrah scored 24 runs which included four boundaries and Umesh Yadav scored 25 runs which included one four and two sixes.
India’s lead stretched to 367 runs and if one looks at the records and stats, it shows that whenever India has taken a lead of more than 342 runs after the end of third innings, they have never lost a Test match.
England bowlers were good with their lines. They stuck to their plans while bowling to the India batters. The pick of the bowlers for England was Chris Woakes not only in the first innings but also in the second innings as well. He took seven wickets in total, four in the first innings and three in the second.
England openers post a steady response, take team to 77/0 in 32 overs
Chasing 367 runs, the English openers Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed provided another solid start to their team in the fourth innings of this Test match. They put on an unbeaten partnership of 77 runs before the end of day’s play. Haseeb Hameed is playing on 43 runs with six boundaries and on the other side Rory Burns is batting on 31 runs with two boundaries.
India bowlers were good with their lines as well but they lacked the killer instinct unlike Lord's. They stuck to their plans while bowling to the Englishmen but flat pitch and nice sunshine resulted in India not taking a single wicket on Day 4 and exemplified the performance of the English openers in the last half of the day’s play.
What lies ahead
The pitch is batting friendly, still, the England batsmen may have to struggle a lot on the last day of the Test match to save their team from a defeat.
Day 5 is expected to be a rainy day. So, India would be looking to wrap up the things quickly by taking 10 wickets as soon as possible and on the other side England would think either to play the full day for a draw and if they do not lose a single wicket in the first session then probably go for a win what with just around 291 runs required at around 3.20.
The forecast for Day 5 is good news for the fans of the game as there is no chace of rain despite some cloud cover.
Twitter Reactions as Shardul Thakur hits Fifty
Shardul Thakur and Rishabh Pant stitched a 100-run partnership for the seventh wicket where Shardul contributed 60 runs. This was Shardul Thakur's second fifty in the ongoing Test match. With that, Thakur became only the sixth player in Test cricket history to score 50+ in both the innings of a Test batting at number 8.
Fans on Twitter lauded Shardul Thakur's efforts where Virender Sehwag and Wasim Jaffer joined the '#LordShardul' trend.
Shardul Thakur has played two crucial knocks (57 & 60) in this Test so far for India.
Here is the collection of appreciation posts and memes on Shardul Thakur:
Virender Sehwag at his wittiest best correlates Shardul Thakur's well-made 60 with Teachers Day gift.
Chloe-Amanda Bailey called Shardul Thakur, 'dangerous'.
Former Indian player, Wasim Jaffer praised Shardul Thakur's effort via this special tweet.
Shardul Thakur was also compared to one of the famous comic characters or avenger, "Hulk".