After India conceded a 99-run lead in the first innings, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara finally performed together to get the visitors into a comfortable position in the Oval Test. Under overcast conditions, India lost only 3 wickets, taking their lead to 171 at stumps on Day 3.
Rohit dances down the track for his first hundred outside India
Batting great Sunil Gavaskar has been on a loop in asserting that Rohit Sharma was very close to getting a hundred in the ongoing five-match Test series in England. The 34-year-old white-ball superstar got off to a good start at Trent Bridge. After a great innings, he ultimately fell 17 short of the three-figure mark at Lord's before scoring a fighting 59 in the second innings. The way Rohit Sharma has presented himself in difficult Test conditions of England has impressed many. Someone like Brad Hogg, who has raised questions on the right-hander's form in the longest format outside India, doffed his hat to the stylish batsman.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. When chips were down for India, the senior batsman took responsibility and stitched together an 83-run partnership with opening partner KL Rahul (46) and then joined forces with Cheteshwar Pujara (61) to cancel out the 99-run first-innings deficit. The crowning moment, however, arrived when he danced down the track to hit a Moeen Ali delivery for a six over long-on to bring up his maiden overseas Test fifty. Rohit has revolutionized his Test career after he started opening in 2019. The white-ball legend took 204 balls to score his slowest Test hundred. Rohit Sharma is now very well India's all-format genius.
Cheteshwar Pujara passes another litmus Test
India's No. 3 Cheteshwar Pujara passed another litmus Test in his career on Day 3 of the fourth Test on Saturday. 91 runs came off his bat in the second innings of the Leed's Test which India lost by an innings and 76 runs having been bundled out for 78 in the first innings. Ahead of that third encounter against England, there were experts who wanted Pujara and vice-captain Rahane out of the eleven. The Saurashtra star quietened the angry mob with that gritty knock but the question still remained. For how long? Four runs is what he managed in India's paltry 190-run total in the first innings and the pitchfork bearers were back with a vengeance when England took a 99-run lead at The Oval.
Just like his second innings in Leeds, Pujara shifted gears again. Positive cricket helped the orthodox right-hander as he scored 61 runs and more importantly helped his team climb out of the pit of despair by partnering with Rohit Sharma for 153 runs. Pujara might have showcased his newfound aggression by using his feet to come down the track against spinner Moeen Ali but will it be enough to send his critics back to their dungeons? Well, if his career is anything to go by, it is very unlikely.
Confirmed: Decision to send Ravindra Jadeja at No.5 was intentional
When Ravindra Jadeja walked into bat ahead of Rishabh Pant and Ajinkya Rahane in the first innings, the decision raised quite a lot of eyebrows. While Sunil Gavaskar said that Rahane might have been in the loo and Pant demoted, Manjrekar had opined that the management was overrating the abilities of the southpaw. However, the reason behind the move remained unknown. Until this evening!
We have an official confirmation now! It's safe to declare that Ravindra Jadeja is India's official No. 5 for the match as the all-rounder walked in at the position for the second consecutive time. The last time an Indian left-hander batted at No. 5 in both innings of a Test match, before Ravindra Jadeja in the ongoing Test match, was Suresh Raina at Nottingham in 2011.
Jadeja, who managed 10 runs in his first outing at The Oval, is currently the seventh highest run-getter in the series. A good 50-run knock this time can see him seal this position for a longer duration. With Rahane barely averaging over 20 in 18 innings this year, this is really not the sign he would have wanted to see. However, the biggest loser out of this experiment has to be a certain Ravichandran Ashwin whose next Test Test outing could be a fair way off now.