That’s it for our coverage of another memorable Test. Congratulations to India, who were sensational after lunch and are tantalisingly close to a first series win in England since 2007. Thanks for your company and emails - see you at Old Trafford!
The Player of the Match is ... Rohit Sharma, whose delightful 127 anchored India’s second innings
“As a batting group, we had to get a big score in the second innings and give England a difficult target. It’s my first overseas hundred so I’d say it’s my best. The three-figure mark wasn’t in my mind; it was all about getting the team in a good position. Once we got into the lead we wanted to put pressure on the bowlers.
“I don’t really think too much about milestones - it’s important for me to try to contribute to the team and get us into a good positions. Sometimes that means getting 30, sometimes it means getting 150.
“It’s always important to embrace the challenge of batting in England. We know it’s not going to be easy. We worked really hard in Durham after the World Test Championship - I believe that was a real game-changer for us, and we’ve batted pretty well. As a batting unit I think we should be proud.
“Hopefully I’ll be fit for Old Trafford. It looks good at the moment but the physio says we have to keep assessing it. I won’t look too far ahead!”
And now Virat Kohli
“The best thing about both wins has been the character we have shown. To come back from being 99 runs behind and bat so well showed that we weren’t down and out, we were still looking to win the game. This is definitely among the top three bowling performances that I’ve witnessed as Indian captain.
“The weather has been hot in the last two days, so the outfield wasn’t that wet and with Jadeja bowling into the rough, the ball got scuffed up nicely. When the ball is reversing our guys can be lethal, so we looked forward to bowling with the old ball today. We believed we could get all 10 wickets - and that’s exactly why it happened.
“It was an unbelievable spell from Bumrah. As soon as it starting reversing a bit, he said, ‘just give me the ball’. His two wickets completely shifted the momentum of the game, and from them on we knew that any more mistakes from England and we would be all over this game.
“Rohit’s innings was outstanding, we all saw that. But what Shardul has done in this game has to be remembered for a long time. He deflated the opposition with his batting. People have got jobs to do [re: the talk about Ashwin’s non-selection] but within the group we know what we focus on. We take a collective call on what we feel is the best XI for us to win Test matches. We don’t bother with the outside noise.
“It’s unfortunate that the coaching staff are not here, but they did call the team just now and everyone is very happy with the win. It’s a great moment and a great boost - we’ve been here a long time and this gives us even more motivation to try to win again at Old Trafford. Thank to you to the fans, they’ve been amazing.”
The thoughts of Joe Root
“It’s frustrating not to get something from the game. This morning we thought we had a chance to win. I thought our opening partnership was outstanding, but credit to India: they got the ball to reverse and Bumrah’s spell was the turning point. From my side of things we’d look at other areas where we missed opportunities - we could have taken a bigger first-innings lead, and then we dropped some catches.
“You’ve got to be realistic about things - that was world-class bowling [from Bumrah]. We have to look at finding ways to manage it better if there’s reverse swing at Old Trafford. Whenever you lose the game you can look at the toss. But more than anything we didn’t get enough runs in the first innings - we need to be more ruthless in my opinion, and make that a 200-run lead rather than 100. It’s about big partnerships. It’s not about picking out individuals [like Moeen], it’s even earlier than that - look at my dismissal on the first evening.
“We have played some very good cricket in the series and it’s important to remember that when we go to Old Trafford. There were some difficult catches that went down, it’s not an easy viewing ground, but we have to keep trying to get better. It’s not for lack of effort or practice.
“Woody is coming good and that looks promising going into Old Trafford. It’s been a frustrating summer with injuries - that’s not an excuse, it’s just the way it has been. We need one last push at Old Trafford.”
“A bespoke team for Old Trafford, you say?” says James Eagle. “Damp, grey conditions in September? Well, there’s this guy down at Kent, averages 20.5 with the ball this season and 48.6 with the bat, and he’s only a couple of years older than Anderson...”
I applaud the sentiment, if not the maths.
A word for the oft-maligned Shardul Thakur: a rollocking 51 in the first innings, 60 in the second and two wickets - including Joe Root - today. Virat Kohli has every right to be insufferably smug tonight.
Jasprit Bumrah ends wiith figures of 22-9-27-2. They’re good, really good, and they don’t even begin to do justice to his performance. His six-over spell after lunch, when he violated the stumps of Ollie Pope and Jonny Bairstow, plunged England into a grim fight for survival.
A great spot from Tim de Lisle - this is only the second time, after 1986, that India have won two Tests in a series in England. And now, if they avoid defeat at Old Trafford, they will have won in Australia and England in the same calendar year.
Sheesh. That was so similar to Lord’s, with India coming from behind to run riot on the final afternoon. It’s another huge blow to England, who led by 99 runs on first innings, but the best team won. In Test cricket, they always do.
India lead 2-1 with one match to play
England 210 all out (Anderson c Pant b Yadav 2) Anderson thin-edged a short ball from Yadav through to Pant and was given out by Alex Wharf. He reviewed it, probably out of instinct, but there was a spike on UltraEdge. Even the usually flawless Michael Gough, the third umpire, wrongly told Wharf to reverse his decision. I think we can forgive him, especially in such a brain-melting atmosphere.
INDIA WIN BY 157 RUNS
It’s all over! For the second time in the series, India have overwhelmed England on the final day with a blistering bowling performance, led by the truly awesome Jasprit Bumrah.
ANDERSON IS OUT! HE’S REVIEWED IT BUT I THINK HE KNOWS IT’S OUT
91st over: England 210-9 (Robinson 10, Anderson 2) I hope Bumrah takes the last wicket. The scorecard still wouldn’t do justice to his influence, but a flying stump or two would be a symbolic climax. India have produced some wonderful quick bowlers, especially since they set up the MRF Pace Foundation in the late 1980s, but I’ve never seen one as good as Bumrah.
Bumrah can’t finish the game in that over, though Robinson almost runs himself out. The last ball went through to Pant, and Robinson started to run in an attempt to keep the strike. It was an absurd run, and Anderson sent him back. Robinson would still have been out had Pant’s throw hit the stumps.
90th over: England 210-9 (Robinson 10, Anderson 2) Robinson drives Yadav to the left of mid-on for four, a high-class stroke for a No10 batsman. You have to feel for Robinson and Anderson. They’ve bowled themselves into the ground for four Tests, for this?
Yadav almost lands the final blow with a short ball that Robinson gloves up in the air. It lands just short of Pant, diving forward, and England steal a single so that Robinson can keep the strike.
“Hi Rob, amongst all the pre-mortem hand-wringing, I’m surprised England’s lack of first innings runs hasn’t been mentioned,” says Rober Ellson. “They were 60, possibly 100 short of par given the conditions on the second day, and essentially threw away the advantage of winning the toss. There’s rarely much disgrace in getting bowled out on day five, and it sounds as though India have been outstanding today. But England had an opportunity to put the game beyond India on the second day, and I think that’s where their chief regrets will lie.”
I’d agree with this. I’m not sure England had much chance today once it started reversing, but they batted skittishly on Friday at a time when India were all over the place. Moeen will be singled out but it wasn’t just him.
89th over: England 205-9 (Robinson 5, Anderson 2) It’s Bumrah to Anderson, one more time. Anderson does brilliantly to clip a swinging yorker for a single. Bumrah doesn’t mind that, as it means he can have a crack at his other favourite England player. Robinson survives the rest of the over, just about.
“Greetings from Cádiz,” says Kam Sangha. “England ‘have had chances to win each of the last three Test’ but let’s remember India were prevented from chasing 250 because of rain.”
That’s a fair point. So England should be 4-0 up!
89th over: England 203-9 (Robinson 4, Anderson 1) “England’s fourth-innings mindset is once again found wanting,” writes Matthew Tom. “Would we really be doing worse than 6, 7 or 8 wickets down by the afternoon session if we’d shown more desire to score quickly and put pressure on? The big difference is, we might be wanting another 70 now instead of 170.”
I do think it’s a lot more nuanced than saying, ‘defence good, attack bad’, particularly when the ball is reverse swinging. It’s such a slippery equation, a last-day chase, because you never quite know what you’re dealing with. For example I don’t think England expected the ball to reverse anywhere near as much as it has. I completely understand why they shut up shop, but in doing so they allowed India to attack with impunity.
WICKET! England 202-9 (Overton b Yadav 10)
Umesh Yadav strikes with the new ball and India are one wicket away! It was a stunning delivery that turned Overton round, thumped into his elbow and deflected onto the stumps. Overton is in a world of pain as he walks off - it’s his right elbow, too, so that might threaten his involvement at Old Trafford.
87th over: England 202-8 (Overton 10, Robinson 4) Overton fends a short ball from Yadav just wide of slip for four. There are still 35 overs remaining, so India can enjoy the wait for these last two wickets.
“I’m pondering whether any of England’s absentees could realistically have tipped the balance of this Test series decisively in favour of the home team?” says James Robinson. “Clearly Stokes is almost always superhuman, but could two of - what is it, four; five? - of the players who would’ve walked into the team if available/fit really have made a difference? If memory serves, it’s the bowlers we are mainly missing but the batsmen who’ve have let us down (with one obvious blond-haired exception).”
If Stokes and Woakes had been available for the whole series, never mind Archer and Broad, I think England would be at least 2-1 up going to Old Trafford. But they weren’t, and what will hurt England the most is that, even with a weakened team, they have had chances to win each of the last three Tests. The two biggest factors, I’d argue, have been mental strength, especially on day five, and Bumrah.
86th over: England 198-8 (Overton 5, Robinson 4) Bumrah, the laid-back assassin of world cricket, rams a couple of short balls past Robinson and smiles down the pitch with a mixture of amusement and contempt. Everyone knows what’s coming next, a yorker, and Robinson does well to dig it out.
“Could you put a question to the OBO readers?” writes Emma John. “I’d like to know what the best/most popular India chants and songs are. I heard a lot of them sung under the Finn stand at lunch to the accompaniment of drums and a saxophone but I only understood the English language ones.”
Can anyone help? If so, send me an email and I’ll forward it on.
85th over: England 197-8 (Overton 5, Robinson 4) Ollie Robinson gets off the mark by cutting Yadav for four, and then wears a short ball on the side of the arm. Robinson gives plenty when he bowls, and here comes the reciprocation.
“England haven’t done much wrong in my view apart from the run-out,” says Spencer Francis. “Just have to tip your hat to India. The only criticism I will have is what seems like a message to Hameed to show intent and rotate strike with Jadeja bowling. If you don’t have the technique to do that against the left armer with the ball landing in the rough (not many do apart from Root), you have no chance and it is best to kick the ball away. Classic case of trying to be aggressive without selecting the right risk to take.”
That was a really important moment, which allowed Bumrah to take a shortcut through the middle order. That said, I’m not sure it has changed the result. On reflection, England’s best chance of avoiding defeat was by disrupting the rhythm of the Indian bowlers, but that’s much easier said than done when Bumrah is harassing your toes at 90mph.
“Let’s remember that Root won the toss and bowled,” says Robert Speed. “Not a good idea at the Oval. Tim Paine did the same in the last Ashes Test there also, and that didn’t work out either.”
I’d argue England have had the best of the conditions – or, at least, the conditions they could have foreseen on Thursday. And Virat would have bowled as well. India are going to win this game because of reverse swing; I suspect both teams thought it would start go much earlier than the fifth day, because the forecast was for hot weather throughout the Test.
“Hi Rob,” says Rob Lewis. “Is It Cowardly to Pray for a Pitch Invasion by Health Officials a la Argentina vs Brazil? My new book.”
On Sky, Ian Ward makes the point that Virat Kohli - who is without the support of India’s coaching staff, remember - is having quite a day His bowling changes have come off, with Thakur and Yadav striking with the first ball of a new spell, as have his field placings. And best of all, Thakur and Jadeja, who are in the team ahead of Ravichandran Ashwin, are playing a big role in India’s victory.
“The atmosphere here is insane,” writes Emma John. “Because the crowd is so balanced, every piece of action/reaction gets an equal volume It’s really electrifying.”
I can imagine. It’s exhilarating enough from 700 miles away.
84.1 overs: England 193-8 (Overton 5) I’m not sure what to say. For the second time in the series, India have overwhelmed England on the final day to steal an unlikely victory. Lord’s was primarily about aggression and intensity and, though there has been plenty of that here, the main reason for India’s imminent victory is the skill of Jasprit Bumrah. Forget that he has only taken two wickets; he blew the game open, and gave England the heebie-jeebies, with a scintillating spell of reverse-swing. There’s no way out for England now.
WICKET! England 193-8 (Woakes c b Yadav 18)
Now Yadav strikes with his first ball! Woakes clips low to short midwicket, wher Rahane takes a good catch. Craig Overton is walking off as well. Has he had enough? Ah, it’s the tea break. My word, that hour flew by, such was the exhilarating misery of watching India overwhelm England.
84th over: England 193-7 (Woakes 18, Overton 5) I wouldn’t get too excited by Overton’s reprieve if you’re an England fan. The firing squad are still en route, and one of them has had an unwelcome run-in with some poison ivy.
REVIEW! England 191-7 (Overton not out 3)
Bumrah traps Overton LBW with another big full-length inswinger - but Overton reviews and Hawkeye has it slipping last leg stump.
83rd over: England 191-7 (Woakes 18, Overton 3) Woakes lunges at a wide half-volley from Thakur, thick-edging it for a couple of runs. It’s worth repeating that stat from yesterday - the last time England batted out the final day of a Test for a draw was at Auckland in 2013. It’s a damning stat, one I thought they’d put to bed today. India’s ability to get the ball reversing changed everything.
“Rob,” says John Starbuck. “So, is it time to begin selection for not just the final Test, but also use it as a trial for Ashes Possibles? Who would you favour, given that some crocks might have recovered by then?”
I wouldn’t even think about the Ashes for now, I’d pick a one-off team for the final Test. Given all the absentees, a 2-2 draw in this series would be a pretty admirable result. I would bring in Wood, probably Parkinson, and ideally another quickish bowler in place of Overton.
82nd over: England 185-7 (Woakes 12, Overton 3) Bumrah, who blew the bloody doors off with a stunning spell of reverse-swing after lunch, replaces Jadeja. I don’t think this will take long. Overton digs out a hooping yorker - and then he’s dropped by Rahane. It was a brilliant short ball from Bumrah, finding life in the pitch we didn’t know existed. Overton fenced it to the right of Rahane at thrd slip. He ran across, leapt forward... and couldn’t hang on to a tricky but far from impossible chance.
Say what you want about having half the England team shot, but Jasprit Bumrah has been simply awesome today, as he was on the final day at Lord’s.
81st over: England 182-7 (Woakes 12, Overton 0) Craig Overton almost saved the Old Trafford Test against Australia two years ago, batting almost three hours on the final day. England need something similar here. Legal disclaimer: Guardian Media Group does not advise you hold your breath.
Joe Root has fallen to the first delivery of a new spell from Shardul Thakur, dragging a late cut back onto the stumps. India could have taken the new ball but didn’t, and it was an inspired decision: the old one came back just enough - off the seam I think - to take the bottom edge and deflect onto leg stump.
WICKET! England 182-7 (Root b Thakur 36)
And it’s goodnight from England.
80th over: England 182-6 (Root 36, Woakes 12) Jadeja returns to the attack, which suggests Kohli might take the second new ball at the first opportunity. That would allow him this over to find a bit of rhythm, which he does with a series of deliveries that Woakes kicks away.
Now, this morning we promised you a record-breaking performance from England’s batsmen. They delivered.
79th over: England 181-6 (Root 36, Woakes 12) Root and Woakes are having to play at almost every delivery, as you’d expect with the ball reverse-swinging. A slightly wider ball from Siraj is driven for four by Root. He’s not quite alone on the burning deck but jeez, you’d have to be a warped mess of a human being not to admire the clarity and class of his batting.
“You can tell things are going better,” writes Emma John at the Oval. “The Galadari stand’s started singing The Great Escape.”
I miss England drawing Tests when nine wickets down. When I first heard the phrase, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”, I had no idea it referred to Graham Onions batting and Monty Panesar swimming.
78th over: England 177-6 (Root 32, Woakes 12) Woakes chips Yadav wide of short mid-on for four. It was a well-placed stroke, ultimately, but for a second it looked like he might be caught. Then Woakes gets away with a peculiar shot, lifting a leg-stump half-volley high in the air on the leg side. Siraj doesn’t pick it up immediately at deep backward square and the ball lands a few yards in front of him.
“If Bairstow is finished in Test cricket,” begins Mark Slater, “who will keep wicket in Australia given that Jos Buttler may prefer to stay home to see his new daughter in her first months?”
Ben Foakes. James Bracey. Richard Blakey. Me, I don’t care anymore.
77th over: England 169-6 (Root 31, Woakes 5) Woakes survives a huge LBW shout after playing around a Siraj inswinger. I thought he hit it but the resulting overthrows were given as leg-byes, so Alex Wharf must have decided it was bouncing over the stumps. India decided not to risk their last review, and Hawkeye showed it would have been umpire’s call on height. India have bowled some pretty spectacular deliveries with this reverse-swinging ball, so I don’t think they’ll take the new ball straight away.
76th over: England 163-6 (Root 28, Woakes 3) After a few solid defensive strokes, Woakes drags an unconvincing stroke through midwicket off an inswinger from Yadav. The reverse swing, which nobody really expected because the outfield was so lush earlier in the game, has probably settled this match.
75th over: England 160-6 (Root 27, Woakes 3) Root steers Siraj to third man for two and then drives beautifully past mid-on for four. That, apparently, is the first boundary of the session. Quite how Root can compartmentalise, and bat as if the ship is sailing smoothly, I’ll never know.
“Every day is a gift. It’s just... does it have to be a pair of socks?”
74th over: England 153-6 (Root 20, Woakes 3) Umesh Yadav comes on for Jadeja. That’s a smart move – partly to give Jadeja a break, mainly because the old ball is reversing. His first over is a bit of a range-finder and passes without incident.
“Surely the end of the line for Moeen,” says Alex McGillivray. “Great bloke, lovely batting style (when in form) - just not good enough anymore, sadly.”
Yeah, there’s too much psychological rubble there now. I think he can still play white-ball cricket but he’s probably done as a Test player; as is Bairstow. Moeen was poorly handled at times, though I think that has been overplayed a little. Ultimately, I think he found his level. Bairstow has underachieved, so it was probably worth trading a very good Test batsman for a great ODI opener.
As for the spinner, I would play Matt Parkinson in the final Test. I know that’s totally unfair on Jack Leach, who has already been treated abysmally, but Leach has hardly bowled this summer. I would go into Oval 1991 mode and gamble on a bespoke team. And if that means recalling Beefy at No7 again, so be it.
Thanks Tim, hello everyone. And I thought having an abscess treated would be the most excruciating thing I’d experience today.
73rd over: England 150-6 (Root 20, Woakes 2) We have a run! All is not lost. Bumrah takes one of the best-earned rests you’ll ever see and Root celebrates by clipping Siraj’s first ball for one of the hardest-earned singles you’ll ever see. Siraj then gets the chance to say “Waiter, there’s a fly in my mouth.” It’s all happening. That’s drinks, with the game all over bar the chanting. Rob Smyth is back in action, so I will hand over to him, with thanks for your company, correspondence, and understandable annoyance at my frustration with the scoring rate this morning. See you for Old Trafford, where this ridiculous rollercoaster of an England team will no doubt suddenly improve again.
72nd over: England 149-6 (Root 18, Woakes 2) That bouncer was designed to give Jadeja a full over at Woakes, who is good enough to keep it out. It feels like several hours since we had a run.
“To all those urging Hameed to get a move on instead of keeping one end shored up,” says Robin Walters, “this is what you get…” Ha, yes: a classic case of the need to be careful what you wish for.
71st over: England 149-6 (Root 18, Woakes 2) This may well be the last over from Bumrah, and Root is good enough to keep him out. For a change, Bumrah (under instructions from Kohli) slips in a bouncer, easily swayed by Root, who then jams the bat down on another immaculate yorker. What a sensational spell: it’s been a privilege to watch it.
“Prophetic!” says Stephen Brown. “So, Richard Morris in the 34th over probably needs to share with us tomorrow’s Euro millions lottery numbers.”
70th over: England 149-6 (Root 18, Woakes 2) Woakes gets through an over from Jadeja without setting off the alarm.
69th over: England 149-6 (Root 18, Woakes 2) Root, as so often, finds himself in two roles on the ship: the hapless captain, unable to miss the iceberg, and the boy stood on the burning deck. He at least is equal to Bumrah’s yorker, just jabbing the bat down in time. The yorker is such a good weapon on a flat pitch, because it takes the pitch out of the picture – just ask Michael Holding, who terrorised England’s toes with it on this ground in 1976.
68th over: England 149-6 (Root 18, Woakes 2) Cometh the hour, cometh not Moeen – it was a good ball, turning into him, but he pushed out at it rather than waiting for it to come to him. Woakes at least looks purposeful, getting off the mark with a measured cover drive, but his expertise in run chases is not going to be needed now. India need four wickets.
“Just to let you know for the next Test,” says John Starbuck, “Saqib Mahmood is now in for Lancashire at Trent Bridge, batting no.11, but doing it with a runner following yesterday’s injury, so maybe won’t be available for selection at his home ground. England’s embarrassment of riches in seam bowling seems to be developing a large hole in the pocket.” Ha.
Wicket!! Moeen c sub b Jadeja 0 (England 146-6)
Another one! Moeen clips to short leg, falls to Jadeja again, and plays his part in one of the classic England collapses.
67th over: England 146-5 (Root 17, Moeen 0) Since lunch, there’s been twice as much swing as this morning. And Bumrah has used it superbly. He raps Moeen on the pads, twice.
“Did Bradman ever get out like that?” says James Robinson, after my comment on Pope. “Lol. Commentator’s curse et cetera.” Guilty as charged. But Bradman, the last time he played at the Oval, got two runs fewer than Pope today.
Wicket!! Bairstow b Bumrah 0 (India 146-5)
How do you get a Yorkshireman? With the yorker! Great bowling from Bumrah, who has destroyed England’s hopes in the space of six minutes. The last five wickets – and the first five – have fallen for 46.
A narrow escape for Root!
66th over: England 146-4 (Root 17, Bairstow 0) Jadeja thinks he’s got Root LBW as he misses a sweep. Kohli goes for the review in that last-second drama-king style of his. But it pitched outside leg.
65th over: England 146-4 (Root 17, Bairstow 0) That was masterly from Bumrah – and very good from Kohli, whose trust in his two senior bowlers has been rewarded with a wicket from each of them. England’s job for the next phase of the game, before the new ball, is not to collapse. As Bairstow came in, Root was shaking his head as he said something, so maybe the chase is off.
“We all know this ends now,” writes Ben Bernards, “... said the neutral observer, smugly. Root, wary of the criticism he received against NZ for bottling a generous offer at a chase, and knowing the huge disparity in talents his remaining batsmen hold as attacking vs defensive players, plays an unduly bold shot as the run rate creeps over 4 and he’s gone! Before he’s removed his pads, two more wickets have fallen and the match is over within a further half an hour with England 100+ short of the target. Regards, Nostradamus.”
Wicket! Pope b Bumrah 2 (England 146-4)
Nooooo! Ollie Pope misses a fast straight inswinger from Bumrah. India have deposed the king of the Oval, and England’s hopes have just gone from faint to even fainter.
64th over: England 145-3 (Root 16, Pope 2) Just a single off Jadeja’s over as Root plays a conventional sweep for a change. He’s definitely not looking to block out the day – not yet anyway – as he did at Lord’s against New Zealand.
“I do like the concurrent ideas running in OBO at the moment,” says Pete Salmon, “that Siraj may have dropped Hameed to keep him out there, and Hameed may have run out Malan for not scoring quickly enough. That the rest of the afternoon might be spent with England trying to get slow batsmen out while India works hard to keep them in would make for terrific viewing, and present a worthy new cricket format.” That is superb.
63rd over: England 144-3 (Root 15, Pope 2) Root opens the face, more expertly than Hameed, and picks up a single off Bumrah. Pope, too, opens the face as well his account with a late drive to wide third man. For me, this partnership is the game. Root is in the form of his life, as everyone knows, but it may be Pope who holds the key. He’s just come back into form, with that sparkling 81 in the first innings, and his record at the Oval is Bradmanesque.
62nd over: England 141-3 (Root 14, Pope 0) Before the wicket, Root played another reverse sweep, showing intent – as Hameed did, in the end. His 63 came off 193 balls with six fours.
Wicket! Hameed b Jadeja 63 (England 141-3)
Jadeja takes a wicket! It landed in the rough outside leg, Hameed could have kicked it away, but he played at it, looking to guide it into the covers, and it clipped the top of off. So he perishes because he took the attacking option – or because he opened the face and played with half a bat.
61st over: England 140-2 (Hameed 63, Root 13) Back comes Bumrah as Kohli places his faith in his senior bowlers. You might find that mildly ironic if your name was Ashwin. There’s a single to each batsman and a pair of byes as Hameed misses one outside off and Rishabh Pant does too.
“Trying to work from home in Norfolk,” says Richard Everitt. “Can’t concentrate!” Pull yourself together, man. You’re a follower of Test cricket, which means you have the best concentration in the world. “Assuming Hameed ran Malan out for not scoring quickly enough (5 off 33), he must be expecting the same from his captain? Was this an agreed England tactic in advance? Thanks for your work.” It’s a great pleasure.
60th over: England 136-2 (Hameed 62, Root 12) That was so good from Root, a wonderful way to greet the return of Jadeja. The ball that went for four was a full toss. The rest of the over passes without incident, unless you count a no-ball, which seems to be Jadeja’s Achilles heel. England need 232.
A straw in the wind
First ball after lunch, Root plays a reverse sweep for four! So he seems to be taking the view that the best form of defence is attack.
There are also some voices speaking up for taking it slowly. “You seem to think,” says Bernard Walsh, “that it is only Haseeb Hameed’s continued presence at the crease that will prevent England winning the Test. On the contrary I would argue that if he goes early after lunch England are likely to collapse to a heavy defeat.” You may well be right! And it’s true that he makes the draw more likely.
“Not heard anyone use the phrase “hit out or get out” since school days,” says Dave Madden. “And only ever by people who hadn’t got a clue, so bewildering to see @TimdeLisle use it in @guardian commentary. England’s best chance of saving - never mind winning - is to have wickets in hand at tea. FFS.” I take your point, but the new ball is due well before tea, and on past form in this match it will have plenty to say.
“Starting to think Siraj dropping Haseeb Hameed was tactical,” says TheOpenMind on Twitter. “I would know, they often declined my dollies back in the day.”
“With that run-out,” says Neil Sparnon, “is it too soon to suggest that Hameed has taken the ‘Baby Boycott’ moniker too much to heart?”
59th over: England 131-2 (Hameed 62, Root 8) Root eases Siraj for another single. And that’s lunch, with India winning the second hour and the session. England have made only 54 for 2 at exactly two an over, and they need another 237 off 63 overs. So much now hinges on how long Hameed lasts: the next four batsmen – Pope, Bairstow, Moeen and Woakes – all motor along about twice as fast as he does.
“God this is brilliantly unbearable @TimdeLisle,” says Guy Hornsby. “Ball-by-ball agony, ecstasy & angst, from now until England probably do what England do. I’ve been distracted by my daughter’s first day at school, but until pick-up I’m going to put myself through the age-old wringer. Come on Has!” And all the best to your daughter.
“Malan’s run-out,” says Vernon. “Bit of a Gary Pratt moment?” Yes! Another lethal sub fielder, Agarwal this time. Malan is no Ricky Ponting, but he was almost as disgruntled.
58th over: England 130-2 (Hameed 62, Root 7) Jadeja comes off and here’s Umesh Yadav, who nabbed Root in the first innings. First blood today goes to Root, who greets him with a classy off drive for three, to give England their best over for ages – only for the sixth ball to bring a play-and-miss as Root, for once, messes up his late cut. It turns out to be a no-ball, but still a moral victory for Yadav. What a contest this is.
57th over: England 124-2 (Hameed 61, Root 3) Root clips for a single. All four of England’s Test wins this year have involved a hundred from him. And yet you can’t see the weight on his shoulders when he bats – only when he’s in the field.
56th over: England 123-2 (Hameed 61, Root 2) A maiden from Jadeja to Hameed, who is getting seriously becalmed. An inquest has been held into the run-out, and it looks as if it was a bad call from Haseeb – as Mark Butcher points out, Malan didn’t hesitate, the throw was quick but high, and he still didn’t get home.
55th over: England 123-2 (Hameed 61, Root 2) Siraj, who has plenty of appetite for the fight, puts his foot down, goes from 82mph to 87, and beats Root with some reverse swing. Root replies by easing a single to fine leg. We can be sure that he’ll keep the scoreboard ticking, but can he infect Hameed with his fluency? For the first time in the innings there are two right-handers at the crease, which makes the rough less of a danger, but also helps the seamers to maintain their line.
54th over: England 121-2 (Hameed 60, Root 1) The good news for England is that Joe Root is out there, and thanks to the openers that sore calf of his has had a good long rest. He looks chipper enough, playing a forward defensive and then a sweep for a single.
Wicket! Malan run out 5 (England 120-2)
It’s not Hameed who’s out – it’s Malan, after another amateurish mix-up and a fine flying throw into the keeper by Mayank Agarwal. That is a big dent in England’s hopes.
53rd over: England 120-1 (Hameed 60, Malan 5) Here comes Mohammed Siraj, who seems to have recovered from that double blow to his pride and his testicles. He starts with a full toss which Hameed can’t cash in on, clipping it to his bespoke fielder at short midwicket. He does manage a single later in the over, but the widespread love for Hameed shouldn’t blind us to the truth here: he needs to hit out or get out.
“If England don’t go for these runs,” says Mark Waugh on Twitter, “I didn’t know what we play the game for.” Hear, hear.
Malan survives on umpire's call
52nd over: England 119-1 (Hameed 59, Malan 5) Just when Malan was looking more assured against Jadeja, he goes and pads up to a straight one. Kohli reviews, rightly, and it’s so tight... umpire’s call! Shane Warne is aghast, not least because the ump in question, Richard Illingworth, is a former left-arm spinner himself. That’s another maiden, and England are getting bogged down again. Where’s Root when you need him?
51st over: England 119-1 (Hameed 59, Malan 5) Earlier the seamers were bowling at Hameed’s stumps; now Thakur goes outside off, in the style of Jacques Kallis. It gets him a maiden, for once, but it’s dismal cricket.
“Maths,” says Adam Roberts. “If England put on 100 for every wicket, they’ll score 1000 and win easily. That’s how it works, isn’t it?”
50th over: England 119-1 (Hameed 59, Malan 5) Jadeja gives Malan what he wants, a half-volley to push through the covers for a single off the first ball of the over. He also dishes up a no-ball, his second of the morning. Hameed plays another shot in anger, a cover drive, nice and wristy but straight to extra-cover. Then, learning fast, he does it again, with more control and precision, steering it towards long-off. Malan sets off for a quick single and Jadeja, trying to field it, manhandles Hameed to the ground. Good tackle! This leads to a direct hit at the other end but Malan is back in time to avert an international incident.
49th over: England 116-1 (Hameed 58, Malan 4) Thakur continues and Hameed, with his head screwed back on, clips to deep square for two.
Here’s Andy Zaltzman, tweeting from statto heaven. “Four batters dismissed for exactly 50 in this Test,” he notes. “One in each team innings. This is the first Test in which there have been four dismissals for exactly 50.”
48th over: England 114-1 (Hameed 56, Malan 4) Jadeja gets another six balls at Malan, who is settling. A couple of simple forward defensives, then a little dance to work a single into the leg side. Malan has eaten up 24 balls already, so he does need to get a move on. Hameed sees that, and suddenly gets himself dropped! By Mohammed Siraj at mid-on. Hameed went for the slog-sweep, mistimed it badly, and presented Siraj with a simple chance, which the poor guy let through his hands into his groin. A case of adding injury to embarrassment.
“Question for me,” says Em Jackson, “is this: if Hameed carries his bat, do England win, lose or draw? At some point, Hameed and Malan might have to give up their wickets just after tea to let the power hitters in to get the last 80 or so. Living in hope.” That would be the teatime of England’s dreams. Malan has the gears, and maybe Haseeb does too.
47th over: England 111-1 (Hameed 55, Malan 3) Released from his dusty jail at Jadeja’s end, Malan nearly perishes by having a waft at Thakur. He does better later in the over with a decisive glide to third man for a single to bring up the Nelson. For one!
Up in the commentary box, a classic exchange takes place.
Ian Ward: Morning, Warney.
Shane Warne: Morning, Wardy.
“That was the first time,” says Matt the stat Emerson, “that an England opening pair had made two century partnerships since Alistair Cook & Nick Compton in March 2013, who made three in total. If you’re looking at consecutive Tests, which Burns & Hameed have just done, then it’s Cook & Strauss against the West Indies in February 2009.” Damning stuff.
46th over: England 109-1 (Hameed 54, Malan 2) Facing a whole over of Jadeja, and the rough, Malan is in all sorts of trouble. It might have made more sense for Root to pull rank and come in himself. That’s drinks, with a clear shape to the first hour: it was won by the draw.
45th over: England 109-1 (Hameed 54, Malan 2) Shardal Thakur makes things happen: right now, he is the rich man’s Sam Curran. (No offence to Sam, who was sensational in 2018, and will come again.) On this occasion, he makes a flurry of singles happen as Malan gets down to business with a couple of tucks.
“You can tell WinViz is an algorithm,” says Thomas Atkins, “with no capacity for emotion. How many English cricket fans could say out loud there’s a 71% chance of them not losing this match without collapsing into a fit of nervous giggles?” Ha, true. But there wouldn’t be much point in having a prediction system that just told people what they already feel.
44rd over: England 105-1 (Hameed 52, Malan 0) Yet another single for Hameed, off the fourth ball of Jadeja’s over. For Malan, four men cluster round the bat, sniffing blood. “One big shot,” says Nasser Hussain, “and Kohli will move one of them.” The best captain in this match is in the commentary box.
43rd over: England 104-1 (Hameed 51, Malan 0) Thakur continues and Hameed keeps him out, though he flirts with danger off the first ball, clipping it to one of the two men at short midwicket. Last ball, Hameed takes a single, which should give Malan some respite from the rough at the other end.
“100-1,” says Tony in Berlin. “Not sure if that’s the current score or England’s chances of winning.” Ha. WinViz still has them at 22pc (India 29, draw 49), while TimViz – far less scientific, but perhaps more interested in the history – gives India 60, the draw 38, and England 2.
42nd over: England 103-1 (Hameed 50, Malan 0) Dawid Malan, you suspect, would much rather start against the seamers. He pads Jadeja away with less than total conviction.
“I’m in the stands,” says my colleague Emma John. “The reaction to those two deliveries was extraordinary. When the 100/50 came up the cheer was enormous, possibly the biggest of the Test. Amazing noise. And then the wicket straight after – we were engulfed in sound!”
Fifty to Hameed!
On comes Jadeja, bearing a full toss, and Hameed clips it away for three to reach a fine fifty, his second in successive Tests. The applause he gets is full of affection.
41st over: England 100-1 (Hameed 47, Malan 0) So Shardul Thakur, the tail-end tonker of the year, makes an impact again. That ball came in at Burns from round the wicket before seaming sharply away. For the first half of the over, it was all Burns – four to fine leg, two to backward point, 50 up and the hundred partnership to boot. He had done his job.
Wicket! Burns c Pant b Thakur 50 (England 100-1)
Thakur makes the breakthrough! Burns reaches 50, looking good, but then nicks an excellent ball that moves out of nowhere.
40th over: England 94-0 (Burns 44, Hameed 47) As the senior senior, Bumrah has taken on the role of the wily old miser. He has 4-2-3-0 today and each batter can only tuck him for a single. Come on England, do something! Lose a wicket! But not two!
39th over: England 92-0 (Burns 43, Hameed 46) Burns takes his obligatory single to leg off Yadav, and Hameed gets one too, for a better stroke, nice and crisp, but straight to the sweeper at deep square. Burns, warming to the task, swivels to turn his next tuck into a glance for four. He has 12 of the 15 runs we’ve seen today, so he is speeding up.
38th over: England 86-0 (Burns 38, Hameed 45) Kohli is doing to Burns what Joe Root did yesterday to Rishabh Pant: giving him easy singles. He helps himself to another tuck to square leg. Then Bumrah gets his inswinger to go a long way, most of it after Hameed’s leave, which prompts a fine take from Pant and some murmuring about reverse swing. Nine runs so far, off six overs, so the required run rate has crept up to 3.36 an over.
37th over: England 85-0 (Burns 37, Hameed 45) Another over from Yadav, another nurdle from Burns, a few more blocks from Hameed. Then there’s a hint of a strangle down the leg side, but the appeal is half-hearted and the review not forthcoming.
“Following up on Rob’s song-structure meme,” says Alistair Connor. “You’re probably a bit young, but for us over-whatevers, it’s David Bowie’s subtle tribute to cricket’s longest form that springs to mind. It starts slowly, leisurely, even a bit plodding, but it’s full of beautiful vignettes and subplots. And it slowly builds in intensity, towards a pulsating climax. “All the fast spinny people / All the long-on short-leg people / Never thought I’d need 22 people / Five days.” Ha. Bowie was a man of many guises, but I’m not sure cricket lover was one of them.
36th over: England 84-0 (Burns 36, Hameed 45) Another maiden from Bumrah. India are trying to bore Hameed out, which worked when he was not out overnight at Headingley.
35th over: England 84-0 (Burns 36, Hameed 45) Yadav gives Burns just what he would have ordered from the menu as his starter – a ball on his hips that he can tuck away for a single. Hameed, likewise, but on his toes. The eternal advantage of right hand, left hand. And then Burns guides through third slip for the first boundary of the day. That’s a good sign after his long stint in the slow lane last night: for England to have a chance, he will need to speed up or get out.
34th over: England 78-0 (Burns 31, Hameed 44) From the Vauxhall end it’s Jasprit Bumrah, India’s senior seamer now that Ishant and Shami are not there. He bowls at Hameed’s stumps too, so this looks like a policy. The first ball is a sharp yorker that Hameed does well to dig out, the rest harmless. That’s a maiden, so Burns is about to face his first ball of the day.
“We do this so often,” says Richard Morris in a tweet that comes with an audible sigh. “Get in a hopeless position, then the score ticks up, you fight the hope in your heart until it becomes an impossible to resist a tsunami of glorious expectation, then they lose 3 quick wickets including a ludicrous run-out & it’s all over before tea.”
33rd over: England 78-0 (Burns 31, Hameed 44) Kohli may be looking intense, but he’s not attacking. For Umesh Yadav, bowling to Haseeb Hameed, he has just two slips and no gully, and the only faint hint of funk is a short midwicket. Yadav bowls at the stumps and Hameed has no trouble blocking before tucking the last ball for a single.
The players are out there and Virat Kohli is addressing the Indian huddle. You can guess the rest, as Bryan Ferry once sang: he’s got an intense look on his face.
“I’m in our office in Shoreditch this morning,” says Matt Emerson, “whilst three miles away at The Oval 27,000 people are going to bask in the late summer sun watching one of the best Test series of the past few years. I’ve only one word to say to them. B@stards.”
“Loving the OBO as ever,” says Stephen Connor. Thank you, though most of that is down to Rob. “Extremely nervous/excited about this today. I’m keeping hope in check by recalling an England defeat in a strikingly similar situation back in 2001. England v Pakistan at Old Trafford. England needed 370 in 4th inns and were 85-0 at the end of day 4. Some friends and I went over from York for the final day to take advantage of the £10 tickets. Went with hope of an England victory in the morning, settled for a draw in the afternoon and then witnessed a defeat in the final session. I suppose I should have been grateful to be witnessing greats like Younis, Akram and Mushtaq first-hand but it didn’t feel like it at the time.” Nice tale. Later in 2001, and closer to York, England did manage a miracle. That was thanks to Mark Butcher – who is commentating today.
Thanks Rob and morning everyone. People keep using the words “beautifully poised”. Mike Atherton, in Another Newspaper this morning, even goes as far as to say “exquisitely poised”. Atherton doesn’t get much wrong, but this game is not that poised: India are firm favourites. The draw is second favourite, and England are the horse you get in the Grand National sweepstake that starts at 50-1 if it’s lucky. Even on a flat pitch, they’re going to need a miracle.
For reasons too boring to explain, I’m going to hand over to Tim de Lisle for the morning session. You can share your hopes, dreams and Clockwise quotes with him on email or via Twitter. See you later!
There’s plenty more cricket going on today, and Tanya Aldred is placing scores on doors as we speak.
“I was at the Oval yesterday and didn’t give England a sniff before the opening partnership,” says Robbie Chedburn. “But I’m putting my pessimistic self away for the day and I reckon we’ll win. What better time to solidify an opening pair! Also think India are going to miss Ashwin!”
I’ve seen some hostages to fortune in my time, but an England cricket fan promising to put their pessimistic self away for a whole day is right up there.
“Hi Rob,” says Marc Greenhalgh. “WE CAN DO THIS!”
But who are we, Marc? Who are we?
Morning! The best Test matches are a crescendo; they start slowly and build to an intoxicating final-day cliche. This marvellous match has had a slightly different song structure - it started loud, went quiet and now appears to be building towards a stentorian climax. Yes, I did get that from an online thesaurus.
Once you reach a certain age, few things stir the soul like the anticipation of a fifth day on which all four outcomes are possible. More importantly, the main three results are all credible. The fact it’s 1-1 in a tough, topsy-turvy series only enhances the excitement. The situation is so simple that you could put it on a mildly patronising scoreboard: England need 291 runs, India need 10 wickets. The pitch is flat for the seamers but doing plenty for Ravindra Jadeja, especially to the left-handers.
I don’t know about you, because you still won’t answer my WhatsApps, but I gave England no chance at the start of their innings. The giddiness started to kick in during a tranquil opening partnership between Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed, and I’m here for the lads as they chase a record target. England’s highest fourth-innings score to win a Test is 362 for nine against Australia a couple of years ago. Ben Stokes isn’t at the Oval, but I suspect he’s been all over the team WhatsApp group.
The CricViz win predictor is on a diet - in descending order, it reckons the most likely results are:
- Draw 45 per cent
- India 33 per cent
- England 22 per cent
- Tie 0.00000000000001 per cent
The sun is shining, the Kia Oval is full. It’s going to be emotional.