It is not uncommon for fans to go through a rollercoaster of emotions whilst watching sport but often it comes with a fixed time limit: 90 minutes for a Football match; not more than 4 or 5 hours for a Grand Slam Tennis match; 4 hours for a T20 and a maximum of 8 hours for an ODI.
What separates a very good Test match from the rest is that it punishes the viewers for five full days. You could tune in from ball one and yet not have an iota of clue about the outcome with merely overs to go.
That was certainly the case in the fourth Test between India and England at The Oval, which had more twists and turns than any other match in recent memory. As the graphic below depicts, for four-and-a-half days the two sides exchanged grueling blows back and forth, and only mid-way into the final day did it become clear who was going to emerge as the victor.
Recapping the Test using words would be fun, but that still wouldn’t precisely project just how chaotic the contest was; how it kept switching directions every minute. Luckily though, here at Cricket.com, we have the most powerful predictive cricket algorithm in the form of Criclytics.
And so to give the most accurate reflection of how topsy-turvy the game was, we have collated Criclytics Win Predictor figures from the fourth Test to present the timeline of events from the most unique yet precise perspective.
England win toss and opt to bowl
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 65% | ENG - 23% | Draw - 12%
Despite losing the toss, our Criclytics Predictor had India the favorites at the start of the Test. Indeed England were the ones who put India into bat, but, prior to the game, each of the last three Tests at the venue had been won by the team batting first. It was the visitors, according to our model, who had the upper hand.
20th over: India 39/3 having lost each of their top three batters
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 54% | ENG - 39% | Draw - 7%
It didn’t take long for the initial figures to change. Within the first hour India lost both their openers, and by over number 20 they were three down. This resulted in a damning 10% drop for the visitors, with England’s win probability going up by 16% having dismissed India’s top-two run-getters in the series.
53rd over: India 127/7 having lost all recognized batsmen
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 44% | ENG - 52% | Draw - 4%
India kept losing wickets at regular intervals, but it was Rishabh Pant’s dismissal in the 53rd over that took England’s win probability over 50% for the first time in the game. Our predictor almost started ruling out a draw by this point, with the figure standing at a mere 4%.
End of India’s first innings: 191 all out
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 38% | ENG 62% | Draw - 0%
The 44% at the end of Pant’s dismissal rose up to 57% whilst Shardul Thakur was still at the crease, but India’s chances took a beating after they failed to cross the 200-run mark. As soon as Jonny Bairstow took the catch of Umesh Yadav, England’s win probability went above 60% for the first time in the game. The hosts had firm control of this game according to our model.
Stumps, Day 1: ENG 53/3
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 45% | ENG 55% | Draw - 0%
The triple strike of Burns, Hameed and Root gave India a boost by the end of the day, but the swerve wasn’t drastic - there was only a 7% shift. With the wicket having flattened out, England entered Day 2 still as favorites despite losing the heartbeat of their side, Root.
25th over: ENG 62/5 having lost Malan and the nightwatchman
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 59% | ENG - 41% | Draw - 0%
Within 8 overs of Day 2, India went from chasing the game to being clear favorites. At 62/5 England were reeling, still trailing the visitors by nearly 130 runs, and all they had left was two specialist batters - Pope and Bairstow. India’s win probability went above 58% for the first time since the Kohli-Jadeja partnership on Day 1.
66th over: ENG 215-6 with Pope 72* and Moeen Ali 29*, leading India by 24 runs
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 24% | ENG - 74% | Draw - 2%
Astonishingly, merely two hours after being 59% favorites to win the fourth Test, India’s win probability dropped to 24% just before tea on Day 2. A counter-attack from Bairstow and Pope and a cameo from Moeen had all blunted the Indian bowlers, and a handy lead drastically tilted the odds in the hosts’ favour. England, suddenly, became overwhelming favorites again - out of nowhere.
End of 2nd innings: ENG 290 all-out, lead by 99
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 38% | ENG - 62% | Draw - 0%
From 24%, India’s win probability increased to 32% immediately after Moeen Ali threw his wicket away, and it rose even further by the end of England’s innings, despite Chris Woakes’ half-century. Things looked bleak for the visitors right before Tea, but they pulled their way back into the contest thanks to some rather callous batting from the hosts.
Stumps, Day 2: India 43/0, trailing England by 55 runs
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 51% | ENG - 48% | Draw - 1%
For the first time in the Test match the two teams were even stevens, and in a matter of three hours India’s win probability had risen by 30% - an astonishing turnaround after the hopeless situation they found themselves in halfway into the day. The game, despite India’s horror show with the bat on the first day, was well and truly in the balance heading into Day 3, particularly due to the nature of the Oval wicket.
34th over: IND 83/1 having lost Rahul, trailing England by 16 runs
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 52% | ENG - 47% | Draw - 1%
At the stroke of the 30th over, with Rahul and Rohit looking indomitable, India’s win probability rose over 60% for the first time since the second session on Day 1. However, that figure soon dropped to 52% in no time post the dismissal of Rahul, who nicked one off Jimmy Anderson. After threatening to run away with the game, the opener’s dismissal pegged India back again.
64th over: India 195/1, leading by 96 with Rohit 100* and Pujara 47*
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 80% | ENG - 13% | Draw - 7%
A truly mind-boggling turnaround ensued in the 30 overs post Rahul’s dismissal. Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara batted and batted and batted - the latter showed plenty of intent - and their resilience tilted the match completely in the hosts’ favour.
For the first time in the match India had a win probability of over 80%, and hope seemed to be fading away for England, thanks to the visitors having a lead of almost 100 with 9 wickets in hand. Notably, it was at this point that our model started bringing ‘draw’ into the equation once again, with it going over 5% for the first time since the second session of Day 1.
Stumps, Day 3: India 270/3, leading England by 171
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 83% | ENG - 7% | Draw - 10%
For a while the double-strike of Rohit and Pujara, with the second new ball, took England’s win probability over 15%, but that was brought down to under 10% by stumps, thanks to the resilience shown by Kohli and Jadeja. 171 runs ahead with 7 wickets in hand made India overwhelming favorites. With two days left, our model also increased the probability of draw, with it touching 10% for the first time in two days.
113th over: IND 314/6, leading ENG by 215 runs
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 78% | ENG - 16% | Draw - 6%
England struck thrice inside the first 20 overs of Day 4, yet the sizable lead India had accumulated by then meant that those wickets made little difference to the overall outcome. India’s win probability dipped marginally below 80% after Kohli’s dismissal, but England, at this point in time, only stood a 7% chance of winning.
149th over: IND 466 all-out; set England 368 to win
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 92% | ENG - 6% | Draw - 2%
India’s hold in the game was ought to diminish after Kohli’s dismissal, but instead things happened the other way around. Thakur, Pant and the tail added a ludicrous 154 runs for the final four wickets, and this lower-order onslaught stretched India’s lead beyond 350. It also took their win probability to a staggering 92%, meaning it was near-impossible for them to lose from this position. At this point in time, only one result looked likely.
Day 4, stumps: ENG 77/0, need 291 runs to win
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 72% | ENG - 7% | Draw - 21%
On resumption, the Indian bowlers managed to take no wickets in the final session of Day 4, and this meant that the probability of ‘draw’ shot up. An England win was still at 7%, but the flat nature of the wicket - only 7 wickets fell on Day 4 - meant that, logically, a draw became the second likeliest outcome. India were still overwhelming favorites to win the contest, though.
41st over: ENG 100/1, need 268 to win in two-and-a-half sessions; Rory Burns gone
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 53% | ENG - 2% | Draw - 45%
India picked the first wicket of the fourth innings on the 9th over of Day 5, but despite the breakthrough, a draw looked more and more like the most likely outcome. From 21% overnight, the probability of draw increased by double to become a staggering 45%. England’s slow run-rate, however, meant that one result was all but eliminated: they had a mere 2% chance of winning at the time of Burns’ dismissal.
62nd over: ENG 141/3 with the Top 3 batters gone; IND need 7 wickets to win
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 59% | ENG - 1% | Draw - 40%
Through the double-strike of Hameed and Malan, India ensured that a defeat was taken out of the equation, but with skipper Root and Ollie Pope in the middle, the prospect of a draw still looked pretty likely, at 40%. The pitch was still flat and England, at the middle, had their best batsman in the series and their best batsman from the first innings. The match was far from over.
68th over: ENG 147/6, Root the last specialist batsman remaining
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 90% | ENG - 0% | Draw - 10%
In a six-over period between the 62nd and the 68th over, India did the unthinkable. In a matter of 20 balls, the number of possible results was essentially reduced to one. Bumrah got some serious reverse with the Old Dukes ball, and he sent Pope and Bairstow packing in the space of 10 balls.
The double-strike took India’s win probability to 79%, but Jadeja removing Moeen Ali catapulted this number to 90%. Even with Root still at the crease, a 10% chance was all England had at salvaging something from the game.
79th over: ENG 182/6, Root 36* and Woakes 12*
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 73% | ENG - 0% | Draw - 27%
Root and Woakes batted for 13 overs without being troubled by the Indian bowlers, and so, all of a sudden, the trend started to change once again. The probability of an India win dipped by 17%, while England gave themselves a 27% chance of drawing the Test. The Indian bowlers were not anxious, yet, but England started to grow in confidence. The pitch was, mind you, still relatively flat.
81st over: ENG 182/7, Shardul Thakur sends Root back to the pavilion
Criclytics’ win prediction figures: IND - 88% | ENG - 0% | Draw - 12%
If there was ever any anxiety brewing in the Indian camp, it was smashed by their MVP of the match, Thakur. Coming back from his second spell, the Mumbaikar shattered Root’s timber on the very first ball, and with it also England’s hopes of avoiding defeat. Only 42 overs remaining in the day meant that our model, rather generously, gave England still a 12% chance of a draw, but the match was virtually over once India saw the back of Root.
The final formalities
Four overs after Root, Woakes perished to take India’s win probability to 94%, and this figure rose to 98% minutes later, post the dismissal of Craig Overton. It was a point of no return for England, who abjectly surrendered three overs after Overton’s dismissal to let India take a 2-1 lead in the series.