Dravid delays England charge

Dravid delays England charge

Despite master batsman's first innings ton, India face uphill task to avoid defeat

Dravid delays England charge

At close on Sunday, the fourth day of the final Test here at The Oval, India were 129 for three after they were asked to follow-on by England. The visitors, overnight 103 for five in their first innings, were bowled out for exactly 300, their highest total in seven innings, after England had declared their innings closed at 591 for six on Saturday. India still need another 166 runs to make England bat again with Sachin Tendulkar holding fort on 35. On an increasingly wearing track, where Graeme Swann is looking unplayable, India’s task of saving the match appears near impossible now.
After carrying his bat in the first innings, Dravid hardly had time to get his breath back when he had to come in to open again with Virender Sehwag. With Gautam Gambhir still reeling from the effects of concussion he suffered after slamming his head to the turf while attempting a catch, the Bangalorean had to open the innings for the fifth time in eight innings of this series and when he was finally dismissed for the first time in the match, caught bat-pad at short-leg off Swann on review, he had batted for close to seven hours and 298 balls for a match tally of 159.

With Dravid’s exit, gone were most of India’s hopes of avoiding a clean sweep by England.

Dravid looked every inch the Wall, immovable and almost impossible to get past. His powers of concentration, technical proficiency and stamina  stood out as he ploughed a lone furrow though he found some encouraging support from tail-enders Amit Mishra (43) and RP Singh (25). After Dhoni failed to put James Anderson away in the morning session, ending a 42-run overnight association, Mishra showed a big heart and bigger attitude to fight it out in the middle. The little man took the attack to the visiting camp with a flurry of audacious shots, including a six off Graeme Swann at the stroke of lunch, as India enjoyed one of their very few batting sessions where they lost just one wicket. 

Mishra was out soon after lunch, putting a full stop to an 82-run association for the seventh wicket. RP Singh threw his bat around for a while as India brought up their first 300 total of the series but not a run more as Sreesanth lasted just two balls. In between, Gambhir hung on bravely for over an hour. However, his movements crippled, it was just a matter of time before he perished.

The show though belonged to Dravid who scored almost half of India’s first innings total. The 38-year-old has proved the biggest hurdle for English bowlers through the series and he once again stood in their way. At Lord’s he did manage to save India from following-on, but here the task was simply too big. He dealt with both pace and spin like only he can. Given the purchase he had got the previous day, Swann appeared the biggest threat but Dravid negotiated him with great ease. After giving due respect to the bowler, he carted the off-spinner for three fours in four balls to inch closer to his hundred before he reached the landmark steering Bresnan to third man for two.

Harder the English bowlers tried, sterner they found Dravid’s resolve. England’s only way of bowling out India was to go at the other batsmen and they did just that.

SCORE BOARD

ENGLAND (I Inngs): 591/6 decl.
INDIA (I Inngs; O/n: 103/5):
Sehwag lbw Anderson    8
(3m, 6b, 2x4)
Dravid (not out)    146
(379m, 266b, 20x4)
Laxman c Prior b Broad    2
(13m, 7b)
Tendulkar c Pietersen b Swann    23
(67m, 34b, 4x4)
Raina St Prior b Swann    0
(42m, 29b)
Ishant c Cook b Swann    1
(10m, 9b)
Dhoni c Prior b Anderson    17
(53m, 50b, 2x4)
Mishra c Bell b Bresnan    43
(89m, 77b, 6x4, 1x6)
Gambhir c Anderson b Broad    10
(71m, 62b, 1x4)
RP Singh c Anderson b Bresnan    25
(27m, 23b, 5x4)
Sreesanth c Morgan b Bresnan    0
(2m, 2b)
Extras (B-8, LB-5, W-7, NB-1)    25
Total (all out, 94 overs)    300
Fall of wickets: 1-8 (Sehwag), 2-14 (Laxman), 3-68 (Tendulkar), 4-93
(Raina), 5-95 (Ishant), 6-137 (Dhoni), 7-224 (Mishra), 8-264 (Gambhir), 9-300 (RP Singh).
Bowling: Anderson 16-7-49-2, Broad 21-3-51-2 (nb-1), Bresnan 17-3-54-3, (w-7), Swann 31-5-102-3, Pietersen 7-1-27-0, Bopara 2-2-0-0.
INDIA (II Innings, following-on):
Sehwag b Swann    33
(76m, 67b, 5x4)
Dravid c Cook b Swann    13
(55m, 32b, 2x4)
Laxman b Anderson    24
(70m, 42b, 4x4)
Tendulkar (batting)    35
(72m, 51b, 5x4)
Mishra (batting)    8
(23m, 18b, 1x4)
Extras (B-10, LB-6)    16
Total (for 3 wkts,35 overs)    129
Fall of wickets: 1-49 (Dravid), 2-64 (Sehwag), 3-118 (Laxman).
Bowling: Anderson 9-2-39-1, Broad 6-3-8-0, Swann 15-2-51-2, Bresnan 5-0-15-0.
 

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