The script was clear. The Indians had to take ten wickets on the final day of the fourth Test. The English had to score 291 runs to win, with 77 runs on the board for no wicket. The weather Gods were kind and blessed London with a beautiful day, with no prospect of Rain.
Eye on Victory
The Indians looked set to accomplish their mission and with the fall of the first wicket, the adrenalin got that further boost. England did not look like they would go for the runs, so it was them playing out for a draw. Cheteshwar Pujara with an ankle injury and Rohit Sharma sat out while Surya Kumar Yadav and Mayank Agarwal took the field for the crucial fifth day of the Test.
Session by session, India held the reins and galloped steadily towards their target. The body language was spot on, with the skipper leading his troops with high voltage enthusiasm. His expressions with every scalp echoed the core sentiment of the eleven on the field and the millions off it.
The Brilliance of Rohit & Shardul
A spirited pace attack with Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, and Shardul Thakur, adding his crucial wickets, sealed it for India, as they romped home to a thumping 157 run victory. There were a few contenders for the Player of the Match, but the two stand-out performances were from Rohit Sharma and Shardul Thakur. Rohit Sharma for his first overseas century of 127 runs, which he amassed in the second innings under challenging conditions. And Shardul Thakur is arguably the stronger contender, with his invaluable 57 to get India to 191 in the first Innings. His cameo 60 in the second innings, added with a two-wicket haul to aid the England collapse. The more worthy recipient, in some books, was Shardul Thakur.
The Champion’s Attitude
Test Cricket always brings out the character of a team. The current Indian team showed tremendous resolve to fight back and make sure that they would go for the win. It’s easier said than done, and perhaps the finest policy in the team is to shut out the noise outside of the cricket. Captain Kohli time and again expresses the fact that the team doesn’t give weight to what is being said outside their dressing room. And the other most transparent trait of this lot is their genuine joy for one another. When one excels and the constant support for each other when the chips are down.
The wheel does not stop and from Test to Test, the Indians must surge ahead. There will be good days and bad days, and we as cricket lovers should applaud the times when the team does us proud. At the Oval, it came full circle and from whichever angle you choose to look at it, this is the kind of team India that you want to support.
As always Virat Kohli said it wholly when he explained that he was super proud of the team he leads. Going into the final Test at Old Trafford with a 2-1 lead
“The character that the side has shown, has been amazing. The way that we batted in the second innings and I am really proud of the way we bowled on the final day. Definitely among the top three performances, I have witnessed in my captaincy. We knew that with Jadeja bowling into the rough. We could get one side of the ball scoughed up and make it heavier. And when the ball is reversing our boys become quite lethal and we exploited that well.
We believed as a team that we could get ten wickets. As a team, we don’t go with numbers and statistics. We take a collective call on what we feel is the best combination for us to walk out onto the field. The best balance and believe that we can win Tests with that group. This win has been a huge momentum booster. We are looking forward to stepping out onto the field and playing for India again and feeling proud about that.”