The Oval: England took command of the 4th Test at The Oval on Day 3 with five Indian wickets before amassing a mammoth total of 591/6 dec. even when the entire second session was washed out due to rain.
India could have been all out if play had not stopped due to rain. There would now be an air of certain inevitability to the proceedings on Day 4 as India would be staring down at yet another innings loss.
Just for the stats, India finished Day 3 at 103 for 5 a hopeless situation with the resilient Rahul Dravid (57*) and Captain MS Dhoni (23*) managing to stay on the crease.
Graeme Swann finally joined in the party and proved why he is considered the best spinner in the world today with three quick but classy wickets. Anderson and Broad had given early breakthrough for England in the Indian innings.
In the morning before the rain delay, Ian Bell (235) had completed his maiden Test double as Andrew Strauss declared the innings at 591/6. S Sreesanth picked up three wickets.
After a long delay due to rain, India would have looked to see off the day without much troubles, but never in the series have the Indians walked off after a day’s play holding their heads high, and Day 3 at The Oval was no different either.
Enough have been talked about the Indian batting line-up not coming up to the scratch and about the superior English game and what transpired on Day 3 was exactly the same.
The Oval was the most batting friendly wicket in the Test series and the English justified that by putting up a huge score.
Indian bowlers were given a reprieve from their incapability of picking up wickets and breaking the partnerships because of the batting friendly wickets.
When India came into bat every expert asserted that Indian batting line-up would get past 300 for the first time in the series. At the end of Day 3, that looks very grim, rather that looks impossible.
A wicket deemed to be batting friendly, where Indian bowlers failed to extract anything, The English ripped through the famed Indian batting order to leave them tottering at 103 for 5.
‘The Wall’ Rahul Dravid has been the only bright side for the Indians apart from Sourav Ganguly in the commenter’s box and yet again he produced a resilient knock to defy the English attack late on Day 3.
Apart from Dravid the entire batting line-up withered away against the English barrage. Suresh Raina stayed on the crease enough to put his name in the record books for the third longest duck for an Indian in Tests. He was stumped by a beauty of a ball by Swann.
Sachin Tendulkar (23) had earlier failed to cash in on his good start as the Master Blaster miscued a sweep shot off Swann.
Sachin and Rahul Dravid had steadied the England innings against a disciplined England bowling attack that kept the pressure on the Indians.
Rahul Dravid looked good way ahead of his counterparts and continued to defy the English with solidity.
Sachin Tendulkar, en route to his 23 had to face some tough deliveries especially of Bresnan. The bounce in the pitch had been varying after the drizzle and Sachin misjudged couple of short deliveries with hit his helmet, but he stuck it out for the brief period occasionally showing the class with four decent knocks to the fence.
VVS Laxman (2), who came in at No. 3 because of Gautam Gambhir’s absence failed to improve on his personal dismal form in the tour. He poked a shot of length delivery of Stuart Broad straight to Matt Prior.
Virender Sehwag who started off the Indian innings in typical fashion punching one to the extra cover boundary then the next one to point had perished in the first over of the Indian innings as James Anderson trapped him leg before wicket with a ball which nipped back in marginally with Sehwag playing it across the line.
India lost wickets early again; Anderson provided the hasty breakthrough once again.
Gautam Gambhir did not turn up to open as Rahul Dravid filled in for the slot.
Meanwhile there was a bad news for India as BCCI released a statement regarding Gautam Gambhir’s condition. Apparently he is suffering from a mild concussion.
The BCCI release stated, "Gautam Gambhir had a mild concussion when he hit the ground while attempting to catch a ball yesterday. As he was continuing to feel uncomfortable this morning, he was sent for a precautionary scan. The medical examination is underway."
Ian Bell scored his maiden Test double century in the morning session but failed to press on getting out to Suresh Raina. Indian bowlers did start of well as Sreesanth removed James Anderson and Eoin Morgan cheaply but lost the steam quickly.
At lunch, Matt Prior and Ravi Bopara were in the middle with England on 591 for 6. England racked up 124 runs in the morning session in 29 overs.
The pacers did threaten a bit early on but as has been the case failed to sustain the pressure on England. Even the spinners Amit Mishra and Raina failed to contain the English as they went on with the scoring with healthy run-rate.
Before getting out in a soft manner, Ian Bell had reached his maiden double century surpassing his previous best of 199 when he clipped one off Sreesanth to the fine leg boundary.
Playing at No.3 in place of the injured Jonathan Trott, Bell had justified his promotion at Trent Bridge with a fine century and he also asserted his authority here at The Oval with an elegant double.
Through this knock and his form in the entire series, Ian Bell has answered his critics in the best way possible and has evidently displayed his class as a Test batsman.
Raina scalped Bell on 235 leg before wicket. It seemed to be a lapse in concentration as Bell in a bid to sweep the part-timer, failed to judge the loop of the delivery. The ball pitched in line hitting the pad in front of the wickets as Bell had completed his bat swing way too early.