The Indian Test team led by Virat Kohli is always striving to prosper and their latest win at the Oval against England is yet another step towards world domination. The horses for courses mentality has got this team in winning positions time and again. In this Test as well, we saw Kohli’s gamble on Shardul Thakur working as the Indian pacer scored a twin fifty to help India go 1-2 ahead in the series with one match to go.
An all-round performance by the team helped string together a 157-run win at the Oval and here are the major takeaways from the fourth Test.
HITMAN GETS HIS FIRST OVERSEAS TEST HUNDRED
The way Rohit Sharma has adapted his batting style to become a proper Test opener is quite remarkable. In an interview with the BCCI, Rohit mentioned that his main goal on this tour was to spend as much time as he possibly could in the middle. He did exactly that from the first Test and was unlucky not to hit the three-figure mark before in the series.
The scene was set for the Hitman in India’s second innings as they were looking to bat big on a flat Oval track. He strung together a beautiful partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara and by doing so, got to his first overseas Test hundred in style. This has been a long time coming for Sharma and he has set the template for future overseas openers travelling to England.
ALL RISE FOR ‘LORD THAKUR’
Shardul Thakur is clutch and the fourth Test is proof of that. There were plenty of murmurs going around the non-selection of Ravichandran Ashwin and the inclusion of Thakur who was supposedly better with the bat. ‘Lord Thakur’ as he would be known from now, showed why the team management trusted him to do the job. On the first day, India were struggling at 117/6 when Shardul came into the middle. Batting was tricky but Thakur didn’t hold back and scored a blazing 31 ball 50, which became the second-fastest Test fifty scored by an Indian. He helped the team post a respectable total of 191 in the first innings.
Second innings again, the team was in a spot of bother. They were looking to bat big and had just lost the key middle-order wickets. Thakur joined forces with Rishabh Pant in the middle and surprisingly was the aggressor in this partnership. He notched up yet another half-century, 60 valuable runs to get India’s total to 466. It wasn’t just with the bat that Shardul impressed, he also got the most important wicket of the second innings, that of Joe Root to help India seal an impressive victory.
JASPRIT BUMRAH IS CLASS APART
At lunch on Day five, the match looked all set for a boring draw. England were at 131/2 and there wasn’t much happening for the bowlers. Jasprit Bumrah came back after the lunch interval with a different intent. The English batters were looking to play off Bumrah as he was their biggest threat. But with the ball reversing just a tiny bit, Bumrah got his tail up. He got his 100th Test wicket as he managed to get one past Ollie Pope’s defence and became the fastest Indian bowler to 100 Test wickets.
He wasn’t done yet. Next up was Jonny Bairstow and the English wicketkeeper-batter had no reply to an inch-perfect in-swinging yorker delivered by Jasprit. He could have had another wicket but only a batter of Root’s form could keep two yorkers out by Bumrah. The Indian pacer finished that spell with an outstanding figure of 2/6 in six overs that included three maidens as well. This was the turning point for the match and this spell will be remembered as one of the best seen in modern cricket.
INDIA OUT THERE TO BREAK ALL BARRIERS
This Indian Test side is making overseas victory look like a mundane event. But just to give some context on how difficult it was for a team to win from the position they were in, here are some numbers.
When a team loses a toss abroad and is sent in to bat, the chances of winning for the team goes down to 6%. After losing the toss and conceding a 99 runs and above lead, the chances go further down to 0.40%. In the last 10 years, no visiting team has won more Tests after being called to bat than India. This was Kohli’s 38th win as a Test captain and no Asian captain has won more Tests in South Africa, England, Australia and New Zealand combined than Virat Kohli.
The Indian team has retained the Pataudi Trophy but the job isn’t done yet. This team is relentless and will not stop without clinching the series. We move to Manchester for the fifth Test that begins on September 10.
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