LONDON: Another monumental performance from Rahul Dravid on the fourth day of the fourth Test at the Oval on Sunday delayed England’s progress towards a series whitewash over India.Dravid became the third Indian batsman to carry his bat in a Test with an unbeaten 146 compiled in six hours 19 minutes in his team’s 300 all out in reply to England’s 591 for six declared.He was soon back in the middle after England enforced the follow-on and frustrated England for a further 55 minutes before departing caught for 13. Despite Dravid’s heroics, England still need only seven wickets to win the series 4-0 on Monday’s final day after India ended on for 129 for three, still trailing by 162. Sachin Tendulkar, who received another standing ovation in what may his last Test innings in England, was unbeaten on 35.
Dravid scored 103 not out in the first Test at Lord’s and 117 in the second at Trent Bridge and is the only Indian to reach three figures in a miserable series for the visitors.A consummate team man who kept wicket briefly at Lord’s when his captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni decided to bowl, Dravid opened the batting in Nottingham and again at the Oval in place of Gautam Gambhir who was injured on both occasions. On Sunday he completed his 35th Test century to move ahead of his boyhood hero Sunil Gavaskar and West Indian Brian Lara in the all-time list behind Tendulkar (51), South Africa’s Jacques Kallis (40) and Australian Ricky Ponting (39).
He emulated Gavaskar and Virender Sehwag by batting throughout an innings and became the first man to face 30,000 Test deliveries. Dravid’s heroics at least guaranteed a competitive day’s cricket in a one-sided series during which England took over the world’s number one ranking from India.
Resuming on 57, he could have been run out four runs later after a mixup with Dhoni. Otherwise his footwork and concentration were impeccable as off-spinner Graeme Swann, who took three cheap wickets on Saturday night, toiled in vain from the Vauxhall end.
Dravid moved through the 90s with three sweetly timed boundaries in a Swann over and reached his hundred with a late cut for two off Tim Bresnan. He had lost Dhoni caught behind by Matt Prior off James Anderson for a sketchy 17 but found a useful partner in leg-spinner Amit Mishra who contributed 43, including a six off the last ball before lunch from Swann, to a seventh-wicket partnership of 87. The tail, including Gambhir who scored 10 batting at nine, contributed little but India’s final total was still the only time they have reached 300 in the series.
Sehwag, who had failed to last longer than the first over in his three previous innings in the series, edged Anderson’s first ball of the second innings past his off stump to the boundary for four. Dravid was given out caught at short-leg by Alastair Cook off Swann for seven by umpire Tucker and immediately called for a review which showed he had not made contact.
ENGLAND 1ST INNINGS: 591-6 decl
INDIA INNINGS 1ST INNINGS:
V Sehwag lbw b Anderson 8
R Dravid not out 146
V Laxman c Prior b Broad 2
S Tendulkar c Anderson b Swann 23
S Raina st Prior b Swann 0
I Sharma c Cook b Swann 1
MS Dhoni c Prior b Anderson 17
A Mishra c Bell b Bresnan 43
G Gambhir c Pietersen b Broad 10
RP Singh c Anderson b Bresnan 25
S Sreesanth c Morgan b Bresnan 0
EXTRAS: (b8, lb9, w7, nb1) 25
TOTAL: (all out, 94 overs) 300
FOW: 1-8, 2-13, 3-68, 4-93, 5-95, 6-137, 7-224, 8-264, 9-300, 10-300
BOWLING: Anderson 16-7-49-2; Broad 21-3-51-2; Bresnan 17-3-54-3; Swann 31-5-102-3; Pietersen 7-1-27-0; Bopara 2-2-0-0
INDIA 2ND INNINGS: (FOLLOWING-ON):
V Sehwag b Swann 33
R Dravid c Cook b Swann 13
V Laxman b Anderson 24
S Tendulkar not out 35
A Mishra not out 8
EXTRAS: (b10, lb6) 16
TOTAL: (for 3 wkts; 35 overs) 129
FOW: 1-49, 2-64, 3-118
BOWLING: Anderson 9-2-39-1, Broad 6-3-8-0, Swann 15-2-51-2, Bresnan 5-0-15-0