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Fourth Test In The Balance Thanks to India’s Lower Order

Fourth Test In The Balance Thanks To India'S Lower Order

A fightback by India’s lower order puts the fourth Test in the balance despite England’s solid start.

Heading into the fourth day of the Oval Test, India was in a good position to drive home the advantage. The tourists were 270-3 with Jadeja and Captain Kohli at the crease.

The first half-hour was pretty sudated with England searching for wickets, while the Indian pair were looking to bat England out of the game.

Woakes’s Double Strike Opens up Game For England

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With Jadeja and Kohli looking comfortable in the first hour of play, Root knew he needed a wicket as soon as possible. When he threw the ball to Chris Woakes, the Warwickshire seamer gave him the perfect response by removing Jadeja and Ajinkya Rahane in quick succession. Jadeja was out LBW for 17, while Rahane could only manage an eight-ball duck.

It has so far been a dismal series with the bat for India’s Vice-Captain. In his seven innings of this series, Rahuane has only managed one score of 50+, which was in India’s win at Lord’s. Is it time for him to be dropped from the team? Meanwhile, India does have Surykumar Yadav in the team, should India have played him instead and given Rahane a break?

Moeen Gets Kohli With A Beauty Before Pant and Thakur Take Charge

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With the loss of those back-to-back wickets, the game was on a knife-edge. England then got their noses ahead when Moeen Ali got the India captain with a beautiful delivery that forced him to push at the ball and get an outside edge. Craig Overton taking a sharp catch at slip.

Rishabh Pant had been struggling for form throughout this series walked out to bat with a positive but determined mindset. When Shardul Thakur joined him at the crease, the momentum of the game began to shift towards India.

Pant and Thakur are usually so aggressive with the bat, but what was so impressive, particularly with India’s keeper-batsman was his shot selection. it wasn’t reckless, they were properly calculated attacking shots.

Yes, there was that horrendous mix-up in the middle, which could have cost either of them their wicket, but other than that, their game awareness at that stage was exceptional. From an Indian perspective, had they carried on for another half an hour, England could well be chasing a target of over 400, so, at 412-6 with a lead of 313, Root’s decision to bring himself on paid off as he forced Thakur into driving against the spin and got an outside edge, which Overton snaffled up.

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India then lost Pant shortly after making 50 with the score of 412-7. With two wickets remaining, Umesh Yadav and Bumrah also chipped in with cameos of 25 and 24 to take India to lead up to 350. India was finally bowled out for 466 leaving England a target of 368 to win.

Burns and Hameed Make A Solid start

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Both of England’s openers knew that although this was a tricky fourth-innings run chase, the pitch looked pretty flat. Bumrah and Yadav were a bit erratic with the new ball, but Burns and Hameed looked solid and at the same time had a positive mindset in the middle. However, Siraj looked a bit more threatening when he targeted the stumps. Could he be the man to set India on their way to victory?

With no Ashwin in the team, all eyes will be on Jadeja to do most of the work with Kohli rotating his seamers from the other end, How will they take ten wickets? Will they rue not playing two spinners on this flat oval pitch?

So England ends the day on 77-0 needing a further 291 runs to win. India needs ten wickets. Who will come out on top on the final day?

Tune in to Sky Sports Cricket or BBC Test Match Special to find out.

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