India beat England by 157 runs in the fourth Test at the Oval on Monday, taking all 10 of the home side’s second-innings wickets on the last day.
It was just India’s second Test match win at the Oval, coming 50 years after a four-wicket triumph at the south London ground gave them a first such success on English soil.
Here’s a look at some key aspects of a match which left Virat Kohli’s men 2-1 up with one to play ahead of the fifth Test at Old Trafford starting on Friday.
James Anderson, whose 632 wickets are the most taken by any fast bowler in Test history, has long been England’s spearhead.
But in this match, at any age where most quicks have long since retired, the 39-year-old was a workhorse too, with captain Joe Root unable to rely on Craig Overton or off-spinner Moeen Ali.
The result was that Anderson, in an attack without long-term absentees Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Olly Stone, as well as Mark Wood, with all-rounder Ben Stokes taking a mental-health break, sending down 47 overs at the for a meagre match return of 2-120.
Anderson has now bowled 163.3 overs in the series, having featured in all four Tests.
That workload could mean England, looking ahead to the Ashes tour, decide to rest Anderson from the India finale even though the match is taking place at his Lancashire home ground, with Root admitting: “It’s a delicate balancing act.”
Sharma rights a wrong
One of the more curious statistics prior to this match was that Rohit Sharma had never scored a Test hundred outside of India.
But the opener filled that gap in his CV with an excellent 127 in India’s second innings of 466.
Sharma now leads the India batting averages this series with 368 runs at 52.57, a tally that also includes two fifties.
Five of Sharma’s eight Test hundreds have come since he moved to the top of the order in 2019, with the 34-year-old right-hander averaging 58.48 as an opener compared to an overall career mark of 46.87.
Sharma has been prepared to rein in the attacking instincts that make him such a dangerous one-day batsman when conditions have favoured England’s bowlers.
“The four Test matches I’ve batted (in this series), the biggest takeaway is spending time in the middle,” he said. “The runs will come.”
Thakur returns in style
One of Shardul Thakur’s nicknames is ‘Beefy’, a tag once applied to Ian Botham and, while no one is suggesting the 29-year-old all-rounder is in the same class as the England great, he is becoming a highly effective Test-match cricketer.
His comeback match after a hamstring injury in the drawn first Test in Nottingham saw Thakur star with both bat and ball.
He scored two fifties, with his first-innings 57 particularly valuable as it helped India recover from 127-7 to a total of 191 that kept them in the game.
The bustling medium-pacer also took three wickets in the match, including the prized one of Root on Monday, after some questioned whether he ought to be included in an attack without either the dropped Mohammed Shami or star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who has yet to feature this series.
“His effort was massive,” said India quick Jasprit Bumrah of Thakur, who now averages an impressive 38 with the bat and 22.71 with the ball in his four career Tests.
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