The losing finalists of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship, India get another chance of lifting the coveted tournament Mace when they take on Australia in the Ultimate Test – the final of the ICC World Test Championship 2021-23 cycle at The Oval – the famous South London Test venue with 104 Tests to its credit.
Just like Australia, The Oval has not been a happy hunting ground for India traditionally. However, they should enter the Ultimate Test in a buoyant mood considering both their recent results against Australia (2-1 home series win) and a convincing 157-run win over England, in their last Test at The Oval.
The September 2021 England-India Oval Test was the fourth match of India’s first ICC World Test Championship 2021-23 cycle series. India started the Test on the backfoot and conceded a 99-run first innings lead. A magnificent 127 by seasoned opener Rohit Sharma brought India back in the hunt. A series of notable contributions by the top, middle and lower order helped India amass a 466-run second innings total.
England who were set a 368-run target crashed to 210 all out to hand India a thumping victory. The Indian bowling attack produced a superb performance with Umesh Yadav leading the pack with three wickets. Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur and Ravindra Jadeja took two wickets apiece. Two years later, the core of The Oval’s triumphant side has been retained in India’s Ultimate Test squad.
The 2021 win was only the second one for India at the venue which is renowned for its sporting character – even pace and bounce with help for the spinners on day four and five. Traditionally, some strong Indian teams of the past have failed to make an impact at The Oval.
India first played a Test at The Oval in August 1936. England prevailed by nine wickets through a dominant all-round performance with the bat and ball. After two draws and an innings defeat, India tasted success at long last at The Oval in 1971.
Leg-spinner Bhagwath Chandrasekhar’s six second innings wickets (six for 38 – best innings figures by an Indian bowler at The Oval) caused an England batting collapse leaving India a 173-run second innings target which they chased down for the loss of six wickets.
The 1971 win was followed by five consecutive draws. England then recorded three back-to-back victories including two innings wins before India’s resurgent win two years ago.
India’s current head coach and batting great Rahul Dravid has the most runs for an Indian batter at The Oval. In five innings of his three Tests, Dravid amassed 443 runs at 110.75. Dravid scored 217 in the drawn 2002 series where he also earned the Player of the Series award for his 602 runs.
Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar is placed behind Dravid on India’s The Oval run-getters list. Tendulkar scored 272 runs in four Tests at the venue with the help of three fifties. Another Indian great Ravi Shastri is third on the list with 253 runs in his two The Oval appearances at 84.33.
Amongst the current batters KL Rahul has a tally of 249 in two The Oval Tests including a 149-run effort in 2018.
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja leads the bowlers pack with 11 wickets in his two The Oval Tests. Legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev grabbed 10 wickets in his three Tests at the venue while Chandrasekhar entered his name in the history books by masterminding the 1971 win with a tally of eight wickets – third most for an Indian bowler at the venue.
The 664 all out in 2007 is India’s highest total at the venue followed by 606 for nine declared in the 1990 Test. The Dravid inspired India posted 508 all out in the 2002 Test.
India’s lowest innings total is 94 in an innings in the 244-run defeat in 2014 while they were bowled out for 98 in the 1952 drawn Test at The Oval.
Content courtesy: ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone.