LONDON: Rahul Dravid became the third Indian batsman to bat throughout a Test innings with an epic 146 on the fourth day of the fourth and final Test against England at The Oval.
However, the hosts still eyed a whitewash after enforcing the follow-on before India reached 25 without loss in their second-innings, still facing a deficit of 266.
Dravid, opening in place of Gautam Gambhir, who sustained mild concussion while fielding on the second day, batted for more than six hours in India’s first-innings of 300 all out to emulate Sunil Gavaskar and Virender Sehwag who have also carried their bat.
His third century of the series and the 35th of his Test career was still not enough to get India close to avoiding the follow-on mark after England had amassed 591 for six.
Apart from Dravid no batsman exceeded 50 with Amit Mishra the second top-scorer with an enterprising 43. Mishra lofted Graeme Swann for an audacious six over long-on off the last ball before lunch and helped Dravid add 87 for the seventh wicket.
Dravid found an able lieutenant in Mishra, who helped bring the total to 224 when the leg-spinner was brilliantly caught by Ian Bell off Tim Bresnan at short-leg, leaping to his right to grasp a one-handed catch off an attempted hook.
Earlier, after resuming on 57, Dravid negated the threat of Swann, who took three cheap wickets on the third day, through adroit footwork and playing the ball as late as possible. He could have been run out on 61 after a mix up with MS Dhoni but survived to race through the 90s with three sweetly timed boundaries in a Swann over.
Dhoni was the only batsman to depart during the morning session and his dismissal came as no surprise. He was beaten twice outside the off-stump by Stuart Broad and edged another delivery which landed in front of Andrew Strauss at first slip. He also survived an lbw appeal against Swann, padding up to a ball which would have gone over the stumps.
Virender Sehwag, who was dismissed in the first over in his three previous Test innings this series, edged Anderson’s first ball past his leg stump for four before putting away another to the boundary as India resumed their second innings, still facing a huge task.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2011.