Coming into the fourth and last test of the series, India is already lagging 3-0 in the series. With all kind of failures accompanying them they have got eggs on face. The Oval may be the best venue to get some reprive. Winning may be the best to restore some pride, but now even a draw will be as good as victory. Considering the rain being key factor, India can take a break from defeats to start afresh in shorter form of the game for remaining leg of series.
Eggs on Face
India has lost the series, England has snatched their Test topper title easily, Dhoni has lost his first test series, and Indian team is yelling for the flight home. Failures in all department have made them even look like chokers. Some say they were not prepared for the game, Captain Dhoni says too much of cricket. Whatever be the reason with eggs on face, India may find the Oval ground most helpful for their cause.
Current Series and Failures
Indian batsmen have failed miserably barring Rahul Dravid’s performance. Only he features in the top 5 leading scorer of the series. There have been no big partnerships. Ironically only one cenutry-partnerships in 6 innings, against 9 by English batsmen.
The batting full of stars has gone down so low that none of the 6 innings have resulted in a team total of 300-plus. Even the running between the wickets have been pathetic- least to say. Players are failing to hit boundaries, refusing to run for available singles and doubles.
Bowlers had a more nightmarish series too. When the pitch is supporting pacers and swing, Indian bowlers Zaheer, Praveen, Ishant and Sreesanth have bowled like a club-class bowlers. Pitch did not help spinners. Yet Harbhajan and Amit Mishra never even looked dangerous, unlike Swann. Surprisingly the slowest pacer Praveen Kumar is their top wickettaker. Unfortunately even he is not playing at Oval. Broad, Anderson and Bresnan are ruling as leading wicket taker of the series.
Even Fielding in the series has shown tired legs and unattentive fielders. Dropped catches by fielders, poor keeping by Dhoni have been a regular feature during last three test matches.
Inspirations for India
1. India has posted their two biggest total at Oval. Both resulted in a draw.
2. India has played 7 draws, 6 of them coming after 1971 victory.
3. In last three tests, India has scored 500-plus in each innings.
Current Player Performance
Dravid has scored a double century here (2002). Tendulkar has two 50s on this venue. Even Laxman and Dhoni have a half-century each.
Negatives for India
Everything is negative for India at present. Yet by history Indian bowlers have very poor record on this venue. Considering current uninspired bowling in first three tests, English batsman can go for another set of records. Harbhajan did take 5/115 in 2002, but was not much effective for a result.
Overall the venue is a deathbed for bowlers where batsmen over the years from both teams have flourished. Current bowling unit of Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth and Amit Mishra look more unimpressive to create any hope. RP Singh might be playing his last test before another long break from international arena.
Past Individual Records at Oval
Chandrasekhar in 1971 series produced historical match winning performance of 6/38. Besides him only Nissar in 1936 series, Surendranath in 1959, Harbhajan in 2002 have earned 5-plus figures.
Many batsmen have scored centuries, scores of 90s and half-centuries at this venue. Still India were once bowled out below 100 here, when Hazare’s team was bowled out for 98 in 1952 series. Rain helped them and match ended in draw.
At present Indian batsmen are at sea. Only Dravid has scored centuries. He is the only Indian scoring 300-plus runs in the series, lagging behind Pietersen and Cook. Dhoni has crossed 200 and looks good for another big inning.
Can Oval be the Saviour Again!!
The Oval is the venue where India tasted first series victory over England. 2011 series was supposed to provide the strongest Indian team in England. Irnoically now, the team has failed to improve the shoddy record at Lord’s, forgettable history at Edgbaston and even somewhat better record at Trent Bridge. Considering their performance, even a better record at the Oval may be in danger, unless rain helps to earn a draw.