After Rohit Sharma scored his first overseas Test century on Saturday, India, on the back of significant contributions from the entire batting line-up barring Ajinkya Rahane, set England a target of 368 runs to win. Shardul Thakur and Rishabh Pant shared a 100-run partnership, with both scoring a half-century each. Cheteshwar Pujara too contributed with a half-century, while Virat Kohli and KL Rahul scored in 40s. The tail-enders once again wielded their bats, with 49 runs coming from Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah combined. Chasing the big target, Rory Burns and Haseeb Hamid finished the day on 77 for the loss of no wickets. Let’s take a look at the talking points from day four of the fourth Test between England and India.
The series gets its first Covid hiccup
The BCCI stated in a press release earlier in the day that the Indian cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri has returned Covid-19 positive in a lateral flow test. Along with Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and physio Nitin Patel have also been asked to isolate as a precautionary measure. “The remaining members of the Team India contingent underwent two Lateral Flow Tests – one last night and another this morning. The members upon returning negative COVID reports were allowed to proceed for Day 4 of the ongoing fourth Test at The Oval,” the statement said.
Captain Kohli loses his cool
Virat Kohli looked set for his third consecutive half-century of the series before he nicked Moeen Ali to Craig Overton at first slip on 44. He batted fearlessly, with 28 of the 44 runs coming in boundaries. Disappointed after missing out on an opportunity to convert his innings into a long one, Virat was caught on camera smashing his hand against the wall.
Kohli added 59 runs with Ravindra Jadeja for the fourth wicket before the latter was sent back by Chris Woakes. The Indian captain started the series with a first-ball duck in the opening Test in Nottingham, but found some momentum later on the tour, scoring three fifties. He now has 218 runs from seven innings at an average of 31.14.
Ajinkya Rahane disappoints again
After scoring 14 runs in the first innings at The Oval, India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane’s poor form with the bat continued as he was dismissed for a duck in the second innings of the fourth Test. Rahane was trapped LBW by Woakes, taking his total run-tally in the series to 109 in seven innings. Apart from a 61 at Lord’s, the middle-order batter has been unable to contribute to the team, and the question on whether he should be dropped has surfaced again. Twitterati want the team management to let go of Rahane, and some of the former cricketers have echoed the public opinion. VVS Laxman feels it is time to give the senior cricketer a break.
“It’s time to give Rahane a break. I am not sure of what the future holds for him. He is a quality player and I always believe that quality players come back into the team. But, the kind of form and confidence he has shown and the body language when he was out there in the middle… Not once during his eight-ball innings did Ajinkya Rahane look convincing,” Laxman said on Espncricinfo.
India’s tail has done it again
India’s lower-order has shown on this tour, and on the previous tour of Australia, that if the specialist batters fail, they will try to make amends for it. And although the specialist batters did their job well on day four of the fourth Test, the tail-enders once again stood up, helping the side post an intimidating total.
With each game, fast bowler Shardul Thakur is reminding everyone that he is a capable all-rounder. Thakur scored his second consecutive fifty of the match, sharing 100 runs with Pant. This was followed by Umesh Yadav’s 25 and Jasprit Bumrah’s 24, which further strengthened India’s chances to win at The Oval.
Chris Woakes continues to impress
Woakes, who has returned to Tests after more than a year when he missed out games due to Covid isolation and later a bruised heel, has made an immediate impact upon return. He picked up five wickets in India’s innings and contributed 50 runs with the bat. The fine show continued on day four, when he dismissed Jadeja and Rahane early in the day.
“I was desperate to play cricket again, and it is good to be back. It feels like a long time coming, but it was well worth the pain. It is nice to show what I can do and showcase my skills,” the 33-year-old told The Daily Mail.
England openers get to a good start
Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed scored five and zero runs respectively in the first innings of the fourth Test. But the duo looked much more confident in the second innings, staying put at the crease till the end of the day’s play while sharing a crucial 77-run partnership. On day five, England will need 291 runs to win the game, with captain Joe Root once again expected to anchor the innings.
A remarkable comeback by the visitors
From 78 and 191 all out in the first innings of the third and fourth Test, India have made a remarkable comeback with a 466 in the second innings of the fourth Test. England have not been able to gun down a target of 360 or more in their history of playing Tests, but with cricket known to spring up surprises, another historical run-chase could be witnessed on day five at The Oval.