The fifth and decisive test of the series commenced today. India had something big to prove as they were trailing by 2-1 in the series. It was the occasion of the Independence day for India today and India had to fight back stronger to save the series for the Country’s pride.
Coming to the conditions at The Oval, well it was pretty much overcast today and it was reported that there was a prolonged shower yesterday and it was of no surprise that the first few hours of the day would surely help the bowlers. England won the toss and elected to field first.
India made two changes in the squad. Surprisingly Ravindra Jadeja was replaced by Stuart Binny and the in-form pacer, Ishant Sharma made his comeback after an injury. It was to be seen whether India could manage to face the deadly pace bowling of the English bowlers.
As it happened, Gautam Gambhir and Murali Vijay opened the innings for India. James Anderson started the proceedings for England. And it was in the fourth delivery of the innings, Indian batting weakness once again came to limelight. Gambhir, unable to judge a swinger from Anderson, edged a ball to Buttler in perhaps the most casual manner to start India’s misery. No doubt, they were in the back foot right in the first over of the day and England took fullest advantage of the situation and pressurized Indian batsmen even more by setting aggressive field positioning. Pujara came in next and he started to poise his innings by watching the ball initially. But he failed to stay at the crease for long. He was dismissed right in the sixth over of the innings by Broad. Kohli came in next. Judging by his current form, the English team were happy to have him on the crease as it eventually helped their cause. Kohli has been in a severe poor nick and his woes continued the same way today. He was dismissed at a score of 6 runs. Rahane came in next and in quite a similar manner he was dismissed for a duck. India were thus in deep, deep trouble with 4 down under a score of 28 runs. Once again the top order of India collapsed. It has become an usual manner now and at the moment, if the top order scores runs it will be treated as WONDER for India. To add to the misery, the well settled opener for India, Murali Vijay was dismissed soon after that and at lunch, India were in a sea of trouble with 5 down for a score of 43 runs.
The second session with Dhoni and Binny at the crease and huge responsibilities were upon them as India could see the chances for a big defeat right after the first session. But the partnership, quite normally did not go for long and Binny was dismissed after scoring troubling 5 runs off 30 deliveries. Again it was upon Ashwin and Dhoni to set up something of a defending total. And they started to build a good enough partnership. But Ashwin was dismissed soon after that by Woakes. Then it was all upto the tail-enders and the Captain himself. The Indian captain once again proved his responsibility and played a captain’s knock and started to rescue India by building small partnerships with tail-enders. This man really has great amount of courage. Finally, at tea, India were at 125 for the loss of 9 wickets.
Dhoni was the anchor in Indian innings and was carrying on the fight all alone by himself. It was a valiant batting effort indeed and deserved respect. He went on to build a 50 run partnership with Ishant Sharma for the last wicket. Finally, he was caught in the long leg region when he was on 82. A great innings by the captain thus concluded. Leaving behind Dhoni, Ashwin and Vijay’s scores, 8 batsmen scored a total of 28 runs. Nothing could be more shameful for the Indian batsmen. And also, Dhoni, Ashwin and Vijay were the only batsmen with a two-digit score.
After being bundled for a score of 148 runs, India started to bowl and had to attack right from the word GO. But the body language of the Indians looked quite disappointing. They lacked the spirit in them and were rather casual. Such a reluctant team spirit is not what is expected from such a team. Initially, Cook and Robson settled down at the crease. Leaving behind some umpire flaws, India did not create any pressure upon the opening pair of England initially and none of the Indian bowlers in the likes of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma did manage to trouble the batsmen. And England did not lose a single wicket at stumps of day one and are poised at 62 runs for no loss. The game is clearly under the control of England. It is to be seen whether they manage to defeat India by a margin of over an innings.