Dravid gone but Tendulkar still there as India try to save game
Close: Fourth Test, day four, The Oval
Match score: India 129-3 (Tendulkar 35*, Mishra 8*, Sehwag 33) and 300 all out (Dravid 146*; Bresnan 3-54, Swann 3-102) trail England 591-6 dec (Bell 235, Pietersen 175; Sreesanth 3-123) by 162 runs Full scorecard
Session score: India 104-3 England win
We had People’s Monday at Lord’s and there will be another memorable final day at The Oval with the prospect of both an England victory and the most-hyped century in history.
England need seven wickets for victory and a 4-0 clean sweep, Sachin Tendulkar is 65 runs away from his hundredth international hundred. As stumps were drawn, only 1,000 or so tickets (which were being sold only through Surrey’s website) remained for the fifth day.
The atmosphere will be special whatever happens. There is even the possibility, like England here in 2005, that India could get a lead and set England a target or less likely, given the way the series has gone, that they simply bat out the day.
It was going to take something special to get Rahul Dravid out and even when he was given it wasn’t clear whether he was actually out. Steve Waugh used to refer to Mike Atherton as the cockroach because he was hard to get rid of. How must England describe Dravid?
Having carried his bat for 146, his third hundred of the series, he emerged again to open the innings a second time after tea. He might as well just have stayed out on the field and waited for the others to join him.
Twice England thought they had him in the second innings, twice there was a review and the second time he was given out. But there was little evidence to suggest the decision was correct.
Off the third ball after tea he was caught by Alastair Cook at short leg off Graeme Swann and immediately reviewed the decision, which was overturned. Six overs later the same thing happened and Tucker gave him not out. England reviewed it of course and again the decision was overturned which was surprising given that the technological evidence was inconclusive. At the close of play, though, Dravid admitted that he thought there was a thin edge.
Had England appealed when Tendulkar’s back foot was raised for a split-second as Matt Prior whipped off the bails, they might have had another wicket, not to mention a diplomatic incident.
The argument about the balance of England’s side was, if not raging, then certainly getting some airplay. On Test Match Special, Geoff Boycott wanted Monty Panesar to be bowling in tandem with Swann. Christopher Martin-Jenkins’ colours have long been nailed to the five-bowler mast but when he put this to Michael Vaughan, the response was “that argument is over”, the point being that Swann’s emergence as a spinner of real quality had rendered the discussion irrelevant. But if England do not win tomorrow you can bet the argument will resurface.
The variety and stamina of the seamers, who rotated while Swann bowled unchanged from the Vauxhall End, never gave the Indian batsmen any release of pressure.
Shot of the day: For shock value, Amit Mishra’s straight drive for six off the last ball before lunch. He earned a promotion in the second innings, coming in at five as a nightwatchman. For god-love-him lunacy, Virender Sehwag’s inside-edge for four first ball of the innings.
Ball of the day: It was basically just a straight ball but one bowled with a wobbling seam – Jimmy Anderson’s new variation – that did for VVS Laxman as it had at Trent Bridge. Laxman played inside the line of this one but the ball hit literally the top of off stump, the fast-bowler’s bullseye.
Identity crisis of the day (1): Sourav Ganguly arrived at the ground with what can only be described as a butler (albeit dressed in a tracksuit) carrying a plastic bag of food packages. But the former Indian captain was initially denied entry because he couldn’t locate his media identity pass.
Stat of the day: Dravid faced his 30,000th ball in Test cricket, the most of any batsman in history.
Identity crisis of the day (2): England 12th man Rory Burns was adopted affectionately and drunkenly by a section of the Peter May Stand who reckoned he looked like teenage popster Justin Bieber.
Commentary of the day: Geoffrey Boycott after Tim Bresnan had upped the ante following the wicket of Amit Mishra: “These bowlers are amazing as soon as they get a wicket. It’s like giving a carrot to a donkey.”
Facial expression of the day: Stuart Broad’s pursed lips look of patronising disapproval when Gautam Gambhir poked a catch to Kevin Pietersen in the gully.
Faint praise of the day: Ex-England medium-pacer Derek Pringle on Anderson’s dismissal of Laxman: “He doesn’t get forward – he makes ‘em look better than they are.”
Quote of the day (1): “My body’s aching like it hasn’t all series but it’s a nice ache.” Graeme Swann
Quote of the day (2): “I learned too late in my career to play against the spin. I wish I could have my time over when I was 22 or 23.” Rahul Dravid on making his 35th Test century.
John Stern is a former editor of The Cricketer
Follow him on Twitter @Cricketer_John