A lifetime in five days

India win at the Oval.

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Lunch Day 1 

India 54/3

India's top order has been most of their batting this series, so to be three down at lunch on day one is quite a blow. Not the end of the world, but it's England's session. And India are coming off a loss. The gloom is rising.

Tea Day 1 

India 122/6 

Indian fans were calling for the captain, coach and everyone else to be gone at this point. There was no way to come back. The loss to New Zealand stung. This was looking worse. Pujara gone. Rahane gone. Virat, what the hell. 

Stumps Day 1 

India 191 AO

England 53/3 

Shardul Thakur swung lustily (isn't that the best way to swing), but India never went beyond 200. However, England found themselves in the same situation India had been at lunch. That seemed lost in the furious anger at the Indian batting. Of course there was a long way to go, and 191 isn't many, but this was a good session for India. They were very much in the game. 

Lunch Day 2 

England 139/5

India we're all over England here until a bad over from Shardul Thakur rolled into a bad nine overs where every India bowler bar Ashwin (remember him (remember us remembering him)) had a go. This was also the second last time the ball would be on top of the bat because of the pitch. India couldn't have known that, but they let a massive opportunity slip. 

Tea Day 3 

England 227/7

England kept chugging away here. Moeen Ali's wicket gave India hope, but it was clear to India that the pitch was flat now. Not sure we learnt much about Ollie Pope we didn't already know. He's very good against pace bowling, and at the Oval. But for England to have anyone make runs right now feels like rain in a drought. India's chance of a lead was gone. It was now about damage limitation. 

Stumps Day 3 

England 290 AO 

India 43/0 

England's would get to a 99 run lead as Chris Woakes batted with Jimmy Anderson to rub India's nose in it. Woakes, who destroyed India in the first innings, was back again. And yet he hasn't played a Test in a year. It was like a high school reunion movie where the nerdy kid has made good. But, it also showed how flat the pitch was, as did India making it to stumps without loss. 

Lunch Day 3 

India 108/1

KL Rahul was the only wicket as India pushed ahead on a benign surface against what looked like a tired English frontline attack. India had eroded the lead with only one wicket. If the game was ever truly even, this was it.

Tea Day 3 

India 199/1

Pujara overcame his recent issues to partner with Rohit. They cashed in on Robinson and Anderson being tired, but England didn't quite think Overton or Moeen was good enough. It was now India that had the chance to push forward and win. 

Stumps Day 3

India 270/3

With seven wickets in hand, India now led by almost as many as they made on day one. But after Rohit Sharma's incredible hundred, he and Pujara fell in quick succession and again England we're back in the match. But Kohli and Jadeja got them through a dangerous period after. 

Lunch Day 4 

India 329/6 

England had an incredible session. India lost three wickets while only adding 59 runs. And they got the ball to do stuff. Chris Woakes, the freshest bowler, looked outstanding. The chase was still getting awkward for England, but four quick wickets would make it very doable. But it might also be the last time Rahane plays for India. The war horse must have been looking around at everyone making runs and thinking, what on earth is going on with me. 

Tea Day 4 

India 445/8

India made themselves comfortably the favourites for this Test, and the next. By extending England's bowling for so long, they gave themselves a chance to tire out Robinson and Anderson. We already know Anderson struggles with second innings the last two years, this one tired him out and ate at his pride. He went from rolling India easy to wondering if they would declare. Rishabh Pant batted like he was waiting for this kind of wicket. He didn't need to charge to get the ball out of his danger zone; he just batted. Thakur doubled down on his fifties, and they doubled their morning runs. Hard to see India losing, even if the pitch was more obviously flat. England looked flatter. 

Stumps Day 4 

India 466 AO 

England 77/0

India pushed their innings to 148.3 overs, which might be as important as the 466 runs. Even Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav made runs though. Meaning that since a mini-Woakes blast the pitch had left the building. England still had to make their greatest chase in Tests, or bat for three and a half sessions, but what a pitch to do it on. Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed outlasted the new ball, and looked set at stumps. It didn't seem likely that England would win - 300 is still a magic chase mark - but it also felt like it would be hard for India to take their wickets. 

Lunch Day 3

England 131/2 

Burns went surprisingly as England had brought up their hundred, and Malan was run out, but never looked like making any. England's main problem was a lack of scoring, 54 runs, meant that all three (four) results looked impossible. But it was still flat, and Jadeja had lost the two left-handers without his intervention, making him less dangerous. he's not had a good series and this is when they expect him to be at his best. But, there was a hint of reverse - the first of the season. 

Tea Day 5

England 193/8

You're never taken by surprise when England collapse, you know it is coming. Yet still, the suddenness gets you. How quickly they turn from normal to oh-no-I-accidentally-doused-my-house-in-petroleum-before-flicking-my-cigarette mode. Hameed getting one from the footmarks was always possible. Bumrah burst through Ollie Pope after that. Then Bairstow too. And almost Joe Root. Not sure how we frame this two-wicket haul when we talk to our grandkids, but chances are it's a you had to be there moment. The pitch was flat for everyone not named Jadeja, and Bumrah found the first real reverse in seven UK Tests and England barely had time to pad up. It was Bumrah changing the direction of the planet. 

Stumps Day 5

India win by 157 runs.

India go 2-1 up. Can sniff 3-1, and on day one, we wondered where R Ashwin was and if they'd ever make runs again. 

They say test cricket ebbs and flows. This felt like a lifetime happened in five days.


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