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Maginificent Rohit, terrific Shardul: Meet the heroes of India's historic Oval win

India's first Test victory at the Oval after 1971 was all about individual performances helping them to dominate proceedings as a team.

Published: 09th September 2021 10:35 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th September 2021 10:35 PM   |  A+A-

India's Virat Kohli smiles as he leaves the pitch after India beat England by 157 runs on day five of the fourth Test match at The Oval cricket ground in London. (Photo | AP)

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If winning the Test series in Australia earlier this year despite registering its lowest score (36) and battling injuries marked the arrival of a 'New India', then the 157-run victory at Oval offered yet another evidence of this team's never-say-die attitude.

After getting bundled out for 191 on day one, Kohli and co first restricted the hosts to 290 and then went on to pile 466 runs in their second outing. Despite facing the steep mountain in form of 368 in last three-and-a-half sessions, England started well as they put up a 100-run opening partnership. 

However, another batting collapse resulted them adding only 110 runs and suffering a 157-run defeat.

Team India's victory (First after the 1971 win) was all about individual performances helping them to dominate proceedings as a team. Let's discuss some of those efforts here. 

Gritty Rohit gets his first overseas hundred

At Lord's and Headingley, despite showing great application and patience, Rohit fell short of registering his first overseas ton. However, him leaving deliveries outside the off-stump and using the front foot trigger movement to play the red cherry late was well appreciated.

With the wicket having no demons in the second innings, Rohit finally reached the much-cherished milestone. He batted for almost three sessions.

India's Rohit Sharma, left, celebrates scoring 100 runs with batting partner India's Cheteshwar Pujara on day three of the fourth Test match at The Oval cricket ground in London. (Photo | AP)

A placid surface, coupled with sloppy slip fielding turned the job of bowling to him into a tiring one for Anderson and co as Hitman, by involving himself in partnerships of 83 and 153 runs with KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara, gave his team the platform for a big second innings score. 

During his knock of 127 runs in 256 deliveries, the only big shot came against Moeen Ali when he hit the off-spinner for a six to complete his century. Otherwise, it was all about him patiently waiting for the bad balls to cash in. 

Pujara and Kohli fight it out

Unlike the 91 in the previous game, where he got some freebies around his pads, Pujara in his second innings at Oval got no early favours. But that did not faze the usually stodgy and resolute India No 3, as he drove and cut the England pacers to all corners.

Two of his standout shots: Pulling a Moeen Ali short-pitched delivery (almost falling over his stumps in the process) and a late upper-cut over the gully region against Craig Overton. 

India's Cheteshwar Pujara plays a shot off the bowling of England's Craig Overton on day three of the fourth Test match at The Oval cricket ground in London. (Photo | AP)

During the 153-run second innings partnership with Rohit, at one point he almost outscored his partner (even hurting his ankle in that process). In the 81st over, when Ollie Robinson induced generate an inside edge from Pujara, India was sitting pretty at 237-3 and went on to add 229 runs in the next 67 overs.

Like Pujara, Kohli also took on the contest head-on. 

On day one, the Indian skipper took his guard outside the batting crease and covered the swing with a trigger movement across the off stump. This brought out a barrage of cover drives from Kohli's bat, a shot that was getting him in trouble till then.

India's Virat Kohli plays a shot for four off the bowling of England's James Anderson on day four of the fourth Test match at The Oval cricket ground in London. (Photo | AP)

Despite a Robinson beauty ending his knock at 50, it hardly affected Kohli's morale in the second innings as his 96-ball 44 helped the visitors to weather the new-ball storm at the fag end of day three. 

This time the Indian skipper curbed his flamboyance and forged a 59-run fourth innings partnership with Ravindra Jadeja to keep his team going.

Lord Shardul gives his blessings:

At the Oval, the Mumbai all-rounder tore apart England's pace attack with his 36-ball 57 (second fastest fifty by an Indian in Test matches) and 72-ball 60. While in the first innings he took India from 127-7 to 191, in his second outing, his 100-run seventh-wicket partnership with Rishabh Pant batted the hosts out of the game.

The all rounder straight-batted the bowlers for boundaries, pulled over midwicket for sixes, while hitting some orthodox cover drives. Despite batting at number eight, his strokes resembled that of a top-order batsman.

India's Shardul Thakur celebrates taking the wicket of England's Joe Root, right, on day five of the fourth Test match at The Oval cricket ground in London. (Photo | AP)

With the ball, he damaged England's prospects further.

On day two, Ollie Pope, well settled on 81, bottom-edged Thakur's gentle outswinger to his stumps. It resulted in England's lead ending at a meagre 99-run mark.

On day five, Rory Burns edged the very first ball of Thakur's spell into Pant's hands. He then dismissed Root for 36 as the England skipper, in an attempt to glide a length away swinger to the third man, chopped it on his stumps.

Pant finally shows some sanity

The 23-year-old's ability to respect conditions wasn't on show in the first three matches. It was all about him frantically attacking anything outside off stump

Day one at Oval: As the visitors were reeling at 117-6, Pant decided to take matters into his own hands. When he ran down to Chris Woakes to attempt a big shot, it backfired as the England all-rounder bowled a slower length ball. All Pant could do was toe-end the ugly hoick into Moeen Ali's hands at deep mid-off, bringing a miserable end to his 33-ball stay.

India's Rishabh Pant plays a shot off the bowling of England's James Anderson on day four of the fourth Test match at The Oval cricket ground in London. (Photo | AP)

Day four: Pant came out to bat at a score of 296-5. This time he had Kohli at the other end. The Indian skipper advised him to take his time and he paid heed, by mostly collecting his runs in ones and twos. After Kohli's departure, Shardul came and started from where he left on day one. Pant happily played the second fiddle.

The partnership between the duo lasted for 100 runs and Pant registered his first fifty of the series in 106 deliveries, with only four boundaries. It may be a slow knock by his standards but was a match-winning one nonetheless. 

Jadeja shuts down 'outside talks' over his selection

Apart from backing Ravindra Jadeja over Ravichandran Ashwin and calling the discussions around this selection debate as 'outside noises', Kohli gave the all-rounder another important job -- batting at number five.

It was a ploy to disturb the line, length of English pacers, but some interpreted it as an out-of-box solution to shield Rahane and Pant.

Jaddu faced 93 balls in total and scored 27 runs, a not-so-special effort except for the 59-run fourth wicket partnership with Kohli in the second innings.

His real examination came in the fourth innings. 

India's Ravindra Jadeja, centre, celebrates taking the wicket of England's Moeen Ali on day five of the fourth Test match at The Oval cricket ground in London. (Photo | AP)

With the Oval surface showing no signs of wear and tear, there were talks on whether India made an error by not picking Ashwin. Despite Jadeja picking up two wickets in the first innings, Moeen's dismissal was more of a slog-sweep going wrong. The other wicket was of number ten Ollie Robinson.

The only thing favouring him this time around was the rough patches around the left-handers' off stump. His first spell saw him erring in line and length and giving easy runs to England openers Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns.

However, he regained his control soon as he started hitting the rough relentlessly and gave no scoring room to the batsmen.

India's Ravindra Jadeja is hugged by India's KL Rahul after taking the wicket of England's Moeen Ali on day five of the fourth Test match at The Oval cricket ground in London. (Photo | AP)

Hameed, who was either defending or padding away these deliveries, suddenly played a slog sweep, only to be dropped by Mohammed Siraj at deep mid-off. 

Then after dismissals of Burns and Dawid Malan, he felt the urge to give more of the strike to Root. He attempted to glide a delivery beyond the close-in fielders. The delivery, which had taken a bite out of the rough along its way, pinged the top of Hameed's off stump. This started the procession that ended in a 157-run win for the visitors.

Bumrah and Umesh make the red cherry dance to their tunes 

After another poor batting performance on a belter at Oval, it needed a few extraordinary bowling efforts to wrest the initiative back.

Jasprit Bumrah delivered just that in the last session of day one. In the second over of a brand new spell, he bowled a full-length delivery outside Rory Burns' off stump. The England opener tried to ride on the extra bounce, only to chop the delivery onto his stump. Then Hameed's over-urgent cut against a Bumrah outswinger which landed in Pant's gloves gave Kohli and co the opening they needed. 

India's Jasprit Bumrah, left, celebrates taking the wicket of England's Jonny Bairstow, centre, on day five of the fourth Test match at The Oval cricket ground in London. (Photo | AP)

However, the pacer's real reckoning came on day five. 

As England started showing their steel with the scoreline of 141-3, Kohli brought Bumrah back. The Gujarat pacer, hitting the mark between 144-146 kmph, bowled two brutal inswinging yorkers to uproot the stumps of Ollie Pope and Jonny Bairstow. It made Bumrah the fastest Indian pacer to 100 Test wickets and was a beautiful reminder of one of Waqar Younis' reverse swing exhibitions.

Bumrah found an able ally in the form of Umesh Yadav.

India's Umesh Yadav celebrates as he takes the wicket of England's James Anderson so India win by 157 runs on day five of the fourth Test match at The Oval cricket ground in London. (Photo | AP)

Yadav made the most crucial breakthrough of the England innings on day one when his inswinger went through Root's defense to disturb the stumps. Then on the following morning, Dawid Malan and night watchman Craig Overton became his other two victims.

In the fourth innings, he ended the hosts' agony with the cheap dismissals of Chris Woakes, Overton and James Anderson.



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