India are made to follow-on, and face the final day still 162 runs behind with seven wickets in hand.
Rahul Dravid. His third century of the series was not only his finest, but given he was batting against England rather than against his compatriots, it probably should be considered a better effort than the three double tons that the home side have notched up. In compiling 146* he offered few chances and made them in a stylish, rather than attritional, manner. He became only the third Indian to carry his bat in Tests and due to a combination of Andrew Strauss enforcing the follow-on and Gautam Gambhir being injured, promptly opened the second innings as well, something that only Sir Frank Worrell has previously done. It should also be noted that during the course of the day Dravid faced his 30,000th delivery in Test cricket – although he did fall on his 30,090th to Graeme Swann. So that’s 30, 081 more than Gavin Hamilton.
In the morning and then after lunch, Dravid was assisted by some hefty blows from Amit Mishra and RP Singh (and for 67 inglorious minutes by a clearly distressed Gambhir) that took India to 300 for the first time in the series. However Tim Bresnan picked up three wickets at the end, including that of Mishra for 43 courtesy of a stunning catch from Ian Bell at a sort of short-cum-square leg. The second innings started unusually, insofar as Virender Sehwag lasted more than one over, but Swann bowled him with a beautiful off-break. VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar added 54 resolute runs, but Jimmy Anderson struck towards the end with a great delivery that hit the top of Laxman’s off-stump.
With the weathermen (and women) forecasting a dry day in London, England will be confident of victory in front of a passionate and vocal fifth day crowd, with Swann likely to be the most successful bowler. However at least one billion people will be hoping for a little masterclass in saving matches. Even if Tendulkar does reach that 100th international hundred, we suspect it will be too late to prevent the whitewash that the performances of both sides – Dravid aside – deserve.