After being asked to bat first, India crumbled under overcast conditions in the fourth Test and were 127/7 at one stage before Shardul Thakur scored a quickfire fifty to help the visitors end their innings at 191. England conceded the advantage after losing three early wickets in the final session.
Another Mighty India Collapse
In the first Test, India rued on the missed opportunity to rake a 1-0 lead as rain saved England. In the second Test, India finally took a lead at Lord's before England levelled the series with an innings and 76-run defeat at Headingley. Ahead of the fourth Test at The Oval, head coach Ravi Shastri declared that Virat Kohli's men were not going to back down, however, after being put in to bat first under overcast conditions, the Indian batting line-up crumbled again. Notably, India were bundled out for 78 in the first innings of the previous Test.
India lost both their openers at the score of 28 on Thursday. While Rohit Sharma (11) fell to Chris Woakes, who returned to the longest format of the game after over a year, KL Rahul (17) was trapped in front of the stumps by Ollie Robinson. James Anderson dented the Indian dream further by getting the prized wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara (4). All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja walked in ahead of Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant and surprised almost all the cricket pundits in the world but his stay came to an end after 34 balls in which he managed 10 runs. A mini partnership of 36 runs brewed between Virat Kohli (50) and his deputy Rahane (14) but ended with the departure of the former.
The condition of the visitors deteriorated further with the departure of Rahane and Pant leaving India reeling at 127 for 7.
Shardul Thakur sizzles with the bat
When Team India arrived in England for the World Test Championship (WTC) final, a video of Shardul Thakur, wherein he was seen hitting the nets with a bat in his hand and straight after the end of an intra-squad match, had gone viral. The 29-year-old had to wait for his chance in England for over two months and when he got one, he made sure to grab it. As mentioned above, India were reeling at 127/7 with Chris Woakes and Ollie Robinson were bowling in tandem but that did not stop Shardul Thakur from showing the power of his willow.
In a counter-attacking innings, which included seven fours and three sixes, Thakur showed immense character and courage which his captain and coach keep on talking about. Pulling an outside off delivery from Woakes to bring up his fifty with a six, Shardul announced his late start in the India versus England series in some style. His pumped up celebration following his 31-ball fifty, second-fastest by an Indian in Tests, stole the show. He departed following a 36-ball 57 which helped the momentum shift towards India towards the end of the final session.
Bumrah's double-strike, Umesh Yadav pegs back India
With only 191 on the board, early wickets were required to not concede advantage on the very first day of a Test match which can very well shape the overall result of the 5-Test series which currently levelled at 1-1.
Jasprit Bumrah did just what the doctor ordered, dismissing England openers Rory Burns (5) and Haseeb Hameed (0) in a span of 4 balls in the fourth over. First, a full length delivery which nipped back in before taking an inside edge and landing onto the stumps of Burns. Next up, Bumrah dropped one short, tempting Hameed to go for the cut and giving Rishabh Pant a catch in the process.
The biggest blow for England came in the form of their captain Joe Root, who was castled by Umesh Yadav in his sixth over. A brilliant inswinging delivery from a 'fresh' Umesh Yadav did the trick in the end and helped them see the back of the man who is most probably in the form of his life after scoring six hundreds including two doubles this year.