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Day 4 look ahead: A mammoth target awaits India

Last updated on 09 Jun 2023 | 10:37 PM
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Day 4 look ahead: A mammoth target awaits India

India have lost 46, drawn 32, won 3, and tied one while chasing 300+ in Tests

Things were looking ominous for India at the start of Day Three. The wicket of KS Bharat in the second ball of the day made it look more treacherous. At that stage, India were tattering when they were 117 runs behind the follow-on mark with four wickets remaining.  

However, thanks to Ajinkya Rahane, Shardul Thakur, and some unforced errors by Australia, India saved the follow-on. Rahane and Shardul added 109 runs for the seventh wicket. Both batters registered valiant half-centuries. Rahane missed a century by 11 runs owing to a sensational catch by Cameron Green. Shardul, on the other hand, recorded his third successive 50+ score at The Oval. 

It was down to Australia's sloppy fielding and some schoolboy errors from their skipper as well that helped India pile on some vital runs. Shardul was dropped twice, once by Usman Khawaja (on 0) at third slip, and Green put down a sitter at gully (on 8). Pat Cummins overstepped again after having the better of Shardul (on 36).. Rahane also got a reprieve when he was batting on 72. 

Australia are ahead for sure. They are ahead by 296 runs. By the looks of it, Australia will try to bat in the first half of the first session with caution and attack after drinks. 

Even if Australia declare overnight, which is not the case, India will have to create history at The Oval. The highest-ever target chased at the venue was 263 by England in 1902. In this century, a team is yet to chase a 200+ target. However, last year (2022), overall, there have been four instances where 270+ was successfully hunted down. Of course, that was all because of Bazball. 

Assuming Australia bat till lunch or the first-hour post the first session, India will be staring at a target of 400+. 

What are the highest chases in England, and by India?

In England, a target of 300+ has been chased down six times. Four out of those six have been in this century. Australia against England at Leeds had gunned down 404 in 1948, the highest. In the rescheduled fifth Test of the Pataudi Trophy (2021), England hunted 378, that too with seven wickets in hand. 

India should aim to bowl out Australia for less than 200 and chase a target of around 370. In Tests, India have successfully chased a target of 300+ thrice, and the recent one came against Australia in Brisbane (328). 

For that to happen, Gill and Pujara have to play a similar role, and who can be India's Rishabh Pant this time? They have chased down 380+ targets twice, once against West Indies (403) in 1976 in Port of Spain and the other against England (387) in Chennai in 2008. For now, it is a far-fetched dream for India.

What's the most overs played to draw a match in England?

Winning this Test will be the miracle of this century. How about a draw? How many overs should India bat? What are the most overs played by a team to draw in England? 

The longest innings batted for a draw in England belongs to India. In 1979, they faced 150.5 overs at the same venue. In this century, England, in 2007 against India, batted 110 overs, again, at The Oval. 

Indian batters and Australian bowlers in the second innings

In Tests since 2021, only two Indian batters from the current squad have an average of 35+ in the second innings. Cheteshwar Pujara, in 19 innings, averages 49.4, and Rohit Sharma averages 41.8 in 13 innings. Pujara (50.1) and Rohit (51.3) average above 50 outside Asia during this period. 

In Pujara's case, his average is also good, and he bats long. In Tests since 2021, Pujara has a balls/dismissal ratio of 120.6 (overall). Among batters who have played 10+ innings, only Nkrumah Bonner (168.7) and Abdullah Shafique (160.8) have a higher ratio than Pujara. 

The biggest threat for India could be Scott Boland. In the second innings, he has 19 wickets at an average of 7.1 and a bowling strike rate of 23.1. In comparison, he averages 27.4 and has a wicket every 65 balls in the first innings. 

Nathan Lyon also has a stunning record in the second innings. He has picked up a wicket every 22.4 runs, 55.7 balls apart with corresponding numbers being 36.7 and 81.3 respectively in the first innings. Cummins has been equally good across both innings. 

Now it all comes up to the overhead conditions. Before this Test started, there was a high chance of rain on both the fourth and fifth day. However, it has changed for now. There is around a 9-10% chance of precipitation in London on Day Four, which means only a few interruptions and a possible full day of play. 

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