Five major reasons for India's stunning win at The Oval

Team India
Indian players celebrate their win at The Oval. Photo: IANS

Team India scored a memorable win over England in the fourth Test at The Oval on Monday to go 2-1 up in the five-match-series. Virat Kohli's men, who were shot out for 191 on the first day and conceded a 99-run first innings lead, displayed fighting spirit and resilience to stage an amazing turnaround. The 157-run win was only India's second victory at The Oval in 14 Tests, with the first coming way back in 1971. The Indians also won two Tests in a series in England for the first time since 1986 when Kapil Dev's team clinched the three-match series 2-0. Onmanorama picks five major reasons for India's stunning win.

Thakur's counter-attacking fifty

India looked down and out at 117/6 when Shardul Thakur walked in to bat on the opening day after being asked to take first strike by Joe Root. A repeat of the horror show at Leeds in the preceding Test when they were blown away for 78 on the first day was very much on the cards. But Thakur had other ideas. Just as he did in the series-decider against Australia at the Gabba earlier this year, the all-rounder rescued India with a blistering 57 off 36 balls.

Shardul Thakur
Shardul Thakur produced a vital fifty on the first day. Photo: Twitter/BCCI

The Mumbai player added 63 for the eighth wicket in the company of Umesh Yadav (10). Thakur, who smashed the fastest ever Test fifty on English soil off 31 balls, made sure the Indians ended up with a fighting total of 191.

Yadav's triple strikes

The key for India was to make sure England did not run away with the match by posting a huge first innings total. After Jasprit Bumrah sent back the English openers Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed cheaply, Yadav struck a huge blow for India by castling the in-form Root with a peach of a delivery just before close of play on the first day. The Indians have found the England skipper tough to dislodge and it was a huge moment in the contest.

Umesh Yadav
Umesh Yadav, second right, came good in his comeback Test. Photo: Twitter.ICC

Yadav, playing his first Test after getting injured in India's win over Australia in the Boxing Day Test last year, continued the good work on the second morning as he dismissed night watchman Craig Overton and Dawid Malan.

The Vidarbha pacer also went past the 150 Test-wicket milestone during the process. Yadav's triple strikes went a long way in India restricting the hosts to 290 in the first innings.

Top three to the rescue

After conceding a first innings lead of 99, onus was on the Indian top order to come good in the second outing. The openers – Rohit Sharma and K L Rahul – rose to the occasion. The two denied England the early breakthrough on the second evening and blunted the new ball. Rohit was a bit lucky too as Burns dropped him in the slips off James Anderson when on six. The pair added 83 for the first wicket before Rahul fell to Anderson for 46 in the first session on the third day. However, Rohit and Cheteshwar Pujara put on 153 for the second wicket.

Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Puajara
Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Puajara were involved in a big stand on the third day of the Oval Test. Photo: Reuters

Rohit (127) scored his first overseas Test ton and eighth overall. The Indians were 137 runs ahead when Rohit departed off the very first delivery of the second new ball. Though Ollie Robinson sent back Pujara (61) in the same over, the top three had set a solid platform for India.

Thakur-Pant century stand

The English bowlers came back strongly on the fourth morning by picking up three quick wickets, including the prized scalp of Kohli. At 312/6, India had a lead of only 213 and the match was very much in the balance when Thakur joined Rishabh Pant in the middle.

Shardul Thakur
Shardul Thakur notched up fifties in both innings. Photo: Twitter/BCCI

Pant showed exemplary application to curb his naturally aggressive style while Thakur was not afraid to play his shots. The two took the Test away from England with a 100-run stand for the seventh wicket. Thakur made 60, while Pant (50) notched up his first fifty of the series.

England's collapse

Chasing a mammoth target of 368, England looked good to save the game as they went into the lunch break on the final day on 131/2 with a well-set Hameed and Root at the crease. However, it all changed very quickly on resumption of play. Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja breached the defence of Hameed (63) by getting one to spin sharply from the rough and then it was the Bumrah show. The Gujarat fast bowler got the ball to reverse swing at a really good pace on a placid track. He dismissed first innings top-scorer Ollie Pope for two and then produced a near unplayable yorker to send back Jonny Bairstow for a duck.

Team India
It was a memorable win for Virat Kohli and Co. Photo: Twitter/BCCI

The left-handed Moeen Ali too departed for a duck off the bowling of Jadeja, who kept one end tight. England had lost four wickets for just six runs and India were right on top. Though Root (36) and Chris Woakes (18) added 35 for the seventh wicket, Thakur forced the former to chop one on to his stumps. Woakes fell in the final over before tea as England lost 6/62 in the second session. It was only a matter of time before India completed the formalities in the final session.

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