Match report: Eng v Ind, 4th Test – Day 3
London, Aug 20: England’s No. 3 batsman Ian Bell completed a classy double-century as the hosts piled on 591 for the loss six wickets before declaring their first innings on Day 3 of the fourth Test match at the Oval.
Asked to bat, the Indian top-order, with the exception of Rahul Dravid, once again put up a dismal performance. With Dravid and MS Dhoni at the crease, the visitors trailed by 488 runs with five wickets in hand at stumps on the rain-marred third day. Graeme Swann did the bulk of the damage, grabbing three wickets in the final session.
Earlier, resuming on the overnight score of 457 for three, England scored 134 runs in the first session of the day for the loss of another three wickets.
S Sreesanth got the first breakthrough, dismissing night watchman James Anderson. In his next over, the Kerala pacer got Eoin Morgan to edge a ball to MS Dhoni behind the stumps bringing Ravi Bopara to the crease.
Meanwhile, Bell continued to hit the ball all over the park to reach 235 runs, his highest score in Test cricket. The 29-year-old Warwickshire batsman reached the 200-run landmark with a four off Ishant Sharma. But it was Suresh Raina who did the job for India once again, trapping Bell leg-before.
Soon after the wicket of Bell, India missed a chance of running Bopara out; bowler Amit Mishra failed to collect the throw from fielder Virender Sehwag and displace the bails that would have found Bopara stranded far from his crease. At lunch, Bopara was batting on 44 and Prior on 18 runs.
As was the case on Day 1 of the Test, rain made an appearance as the teams walked into the pavilion for lunch; this time, rain halted play for almost four hours. When the skies cleared and play resumed, England chose to declare their first innings on 591 runs for the loss of six wickets.
Gautam Gambhir, who suffered a concussion in a fielding mishap on Day 2, did not take the field today; in his absence, Dravid opened the innings with Sehwag for India.
Although Sehwag hit two boundaries off James Anderson, the bowler once again got the better of the opener in the first over he bowled at him. Sehwag’s dismissal, out lbw, left India on eight runs for the loss of one wicket at the end of the first over of their first innings.
VVS Laxman returned to the dressing room a couple of overs later signaling an all too familiar batting collapse for the visitors. Sachin Tendulkar joined Dravid at the crease, bringing with him some hope of a fightback.
But the England pacers continued to hit the deck hard; a bouncer from Stuart Broad even crashed into Tendulkar’s helmet. But Tendulkar replied by sending the next ball racing to the fence to open his account. In their stay together at the crease, Dravid and Tendulkar went on to surpass Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes’ record (6,482 runs in 148 innings) for the all time highest partnership with 6520 runs in 134 innings at an average of 50.93.
However, the veterans could not extend their latest partnership beyond 55 runs. Tendulkar’s attempt to sweep a Graeme Swann delivery saw the ball pop high in the air only to land safely in the hands of Anderson in the slips; Tendulkar departed on 23.
With just a few overs of play left, Suresh Raina followed Tendulkar back to the hut, out for a duck having faced 29 deliveries. The left-hander was sent back stumped by Matt Prior off Swann, already responsible for two previous Raina dismissals in this series. In his next over, Swann got the wicket of night watchman Ishant Sharma, an inside edge resulting in a simple catch by Alastair Cook at short-leg.
The last over of the day saw a noisy appeal for Dhoni’s wicket being turned down; the batsman, in reply, ended the day’s proceedings with a four off Swann. In the midst of the ruins, Dravid predictably put together a superb half-century, holding the innings together with little help from the top order.
Brief Score (At end of Day 3): England 1st innings591/6 in 153.0 overs (Ian Bell 235, Ravi Bopara 44*, S Sreesanth 3/123, S Raina 2/58), India 1st innings 103/5 in 33 overs (R Dravid 57*, MS Dhoni 5*, G Swann 3/27)