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England save Oval Test, but not the Series

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India were forced to be content with a 1-0 Series win as The Oval Test was saved by England on the fifth and final day. India fell short by four wickets on a day when the track remained flat for the batsmen to feel comfortable. It’s a series win for India after 21 years, the last time they won was under Kapil Dev in 1986. England lost its first home series in six years! It was just the third time in history that India has won a Test Series on English soil.

It was a good outing for the Indian team on this tour after the first four days of the Lord’s Test. The team played like a unit with everyone chipping in to give an Independence Day Gift back home with a Series Win. The Indian players did everything they could to take 10 English wickets on the final day but their opponents were good enough to stop them in doing so. But end of the Test Match, none of the Indian players were complaining as they still won the Test Series.

India got their first breakthrough in the 12th over of the day when Strauss yet again played a drive away from his body to be taken in the slips. He was dismissed by RP Singh, who struck with his fourth ball of the day. Strauss finished scoring a moderate 32 with the first wicket falling at the score of 79. India got the fillip to run through the English batting when Cook was nicely caught in an attempted flick at leg slip by VVS Laxman off Anil Kumble. That wicket had England at 86 for 2 with Cook making 43 from 85 with 5 fours. The rest of the session went England’s way with Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen batting comfortably to take England to 126 for 2 in 50 Overs. England could have lost Vaughan as well but for a dropped catch at slip from Dravid off a sharp leg break from Kumble.

The post lunch session saw some huge black clouds hovering over The Oval and soon it became dark enough for the Umpires to suspend the play. After about ten minutes, the action was back with the break in play resulting in a break in concentration for the English Captain. An uncharacteristic cut short which was nicked behind the stumps off Sreesanth. The ball was short but too wide and had seamed away beautifully with Sreesanth getting the seam to stay upright to deviate off the track. Vaughan’s resistance was cut short to a personal score of 42 from 95 balls. The Indians just had to work hard for each wicket and that’s what happened when Collingwood joined Pietersen. Both batsmen got plenty of free runs with the field set ups being attacking. This partnership now left India a difficult task of taking seven wickets in the final session.

The last real opportunity for the Indians was the second new ball which they took in the 85th over. Unbelievably just the first ball with the new ball gave India and Sreesanth a wicket that of Collingwood, lbw for the second time. Collingwood was caught napping playing along the wrong line to be rapped up on the backleg. Collingwood did his part by then, getting 40 and playing out 81 deliveries in a partnership that lasted over 24 overs. A little while later, Kevin Pietersen brought up his 10th century but soon played a loose drive to be caught in the slips off Sreesanth. KP got 101 from 159 with as many as 18 fours. India now had 23 overs to take the remaining five wickets but it looked impossible as Ian Bell and Matthew Prior managed to bat out most of those overs. Towards the closing stages of the match, Ian Bell was given out lbw playing a sweep and missing the line of a full length delivery from Kumble. Bell got his second half century of the match, this innings he had got 67 from 62 with 12 boundaries as he took advantage of an attacking field set up from Dravid. The remaining 28 deliveries were safely negotiated by Prior (12 from 64 balls) and Sidebottom (3 from 15 balls). England closed the game at a good looking 369 for 6 having survived 110 overs.

The Man of the Match went to Anil Kumble, more for his century rather than his five wickets. The England ‘Player of the Series’ which was adjudicated by the Indian Team Manager and the two Coaches went to Jimmy Anderson while Peter Moores gave the Indian ‘Player of the Series’ to Zaheer Khan for being the highest wicket taker for India in a Test Series in England. The Test Series has been short and sweet and now its all over to the long 7-ODI Series and then the Twenty20 World Cup. Before that India have to accommodate an ODI against Scotland on the 16th.

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