55th over: England 123-2 (Hameed 61, Root 2) Siraj, who has plenty of appetite for the fight, puts his foot down, goes from 82mph to 87, and beats Root with some reverse swing. Root replies by easing a single to fine leg. We can be sure that he’ll keep the scoreboard ticking, but can he infect Hameed with his fluency? For the first time in the innings there are two right-handers at the crease, which makes the rough less of a danger, but also helps the seamers to maintain their line.
54th over: England 121-2 (Hameed 60, Root 1) The good news for England is that Joe Root is out there, and thanks to the openers that sore calf of his has had a good long rest. He looks chipper enough, playing a forward defensive and then a sweep for a single.
It’s not Hameed who’s out – it’s Malan, after another amateurish mix-up and a fine flying throw into the keeper by Mayank Agarwal. That is a big dent in England’s hopes.
53rd over: England 120-1 (Hameed 60, Malan 5) Here comes Mohammed Siraj, who seems to have recovered from that double blow to his pride and his testicles. He starts with a full toss which Hameed can’t cash in on, clipping it to his bespoke fielder at short midwicket. He does manage a single later in the over, but the widespread love for Hameed shouldn’t blind us to the truth here: he needs to hit out or get out.
“If England don’t go for these runs,” says Mark Waugh on Twitter, “I didn’t know what we play the game for.” Hear, hear.
52nd over: England 119-1 (Hameed 59, Malan 5) Just when Malan was looking more assured against Jadeja, he goes and pads up to a straight one. Kohli reviews, rightly, and it’s so tight… umpire’s call! Shane Warne is aghast, not least because the ump in question, Richard Illingworth, is a former left-arm spinner himself. That’s another maiden, and England are getting bogged down again. Where’s Root when you need him?
51st over: England 119-1 (Hameed 59, Malan 5) Earlier the seamers were bowling at Hameed’s stumps; now Thakur goes outside off, in the style of Jacques Kallis. It gets him a maiden, for once, but it’s dismal cricket.
“Maths,” says Adam Roberts. “If England put on 100 for every wicket, they’ll score 1000 and win easily. That’s how it works, isn’t it?”
50th over: England 119-1 (Hameed 59, Malan 5) Jadeja gives Malan what he wants, a half-volley to push through the covers for a single off the first ball of the over. He also dishes up a no-ball, his second of the morning. Hameed plays another shot in anger, a cover drive, nice and wristy but straight to extra-cover. Then, learning fast, he does it again, with more control and precision, steering it towards long-off. Malan sets off for a quick single and Jadeja, trying to field it, manhandles Hameed to the ground. Good tackle! This leads to a direct hit at the other end but Malan is back in time to avert an international incident.
49th over: England 116-1 (Hameed 58, Malan 4) Thakur continues and Hameed, with his head screwed back on, clips to deep square for two.
Here’s Andy Zaltzman, tweeting from statto heaven. “Four batters dismissed for exactly 50 in this Test,” he notes. “One in each team innings. This is the first Test in which there have been four dismissals for exactly 50.”
48th over: England 114-1 (Hameed 56, Malan 4) Jadeja gets another six balls at Malan, who is settling. A couple of simple forward defensives, then a little dance to work a single into the leg side. Malan has eaten up 24 balls already, so he does need to get a move on. Hameed sees that, and suddenly gets himself dropped! By Mohammed Siraj at mid-on. Hameed went for the slog-sweep, mistimed it badly, and presented Siraj with a simple chance, which the poor guy let through his hands into his groin. A case of adding injury to embarrassment.
“Question for me,” says Em Jackson, “is this: if Hameed carries his bat, do England win, lose or draw? At some point, Hameed and Malan might have to give up their wickets just after tea to let the power hitters in to get the last 80 or so. Living in hope.” That would be the teatime of England’s dreams. Malan has the gears, and maybe Haseeb does too.
47th over: England 111-1 (Hameed 55, Malan 3) Released from his dusty jail at Jadeja’s end, Malan nearly perishes by having a waft at Thakur. He does better later in the over with a decisive glide to third man for a single to bring up the Nelson. For one!
Up in the commentary box, a classic exchange takes place.
Ian Ward: Morning, Warney.
Shane Warne: Morning, Wardy.
“That was the first time,” says Matt the stat Emerson, “that an England opening pair had made two century partnerships since Alistair Cook & Nick Compton in March 2013, who made three in total. If you’re looking at consecutive Tests, which Burns & Hameed have just done, then it’s Cook & Strauss against the West Indies in February 2009.” Damning stuff.
46th over: England 109-1 (Hameed 54, Malan 2) Facing a whole over of Jadeja, and the rough, Malan is in all sorts of trouble. It might have made more sense for Root to pull rank and come in himself. That’s drinks, with a clear shape to the first hour: it was won by the draw.
45th over: England 109-1 (Hameed 54, Malan 2) Shardal Thakur makes things happen: right now, he is the rich man’s Sam Curran. (No offence to Sam, who was sensational in 2018, and will come again.) On this occasion, he makes a flurry of singles happen as Malan gets down to business with a couple of tucks.
“You can tell WinViz is an algorithm,” says Thomas Atkins, “with no capacity for emotion. How many English cricket fans could say out loud there’s a 71% chance of them not losing this match without collapsing into a fit of nervous giggles?” Ha, true. But there wouldn’t be much point in having a prediction system that just told people what they already feel.
44rd over: England 105-1 (Hameed 52, Malan 0) Yet another single for Hameed, off the fourth ball of Jadeja’s over. For Malan, four men cluster round the bat, sniffing blood. “One big shot,” says Nasser Hussain, “and Kohli will move one of them.” The best captain in this match is in the commentary box.
43rd over: England 104-1 (Hameed 51, Malan 0) Thakur continues and Hameed keeps him out, though he flirts with danger off the first ball, clipping it to one of the two men at short midwicket. Last ball, Hameed takes a single, which should give Malan some respite from the rough at the other end.
“100-1,” says Tony in Berlin. “Not sure if that’s the current score or England’s chances of winning.” Ha. WinViz still has them at 22pc (India 29, draw 49), while TimViz – far less scientific, but perhaps more interested in the history – gives India 60, the draw 38, and England 2.
42nd over: England 103-1 (Hameed 50, Malan 0) Dawid Malan, you suspect, would much rather start against the seamers. He pads Jadeja away with less than total conviction.
“I’m in the stands,” says my colleague Emma John. “The reaction to those two deliveries was extraordinary. When the 100/50 came up the cheer was enormous, possibly the biggest of the Test. Amazing noise. And then the wicket straight after – we were engulfed in sound!”
On comes Jadeja, bearing a full toss, and Hameed clips it away for three to reach a fine fifty, his second in successive Tests. The applause he gets is full of affection.
41st over: England 100-1 (Hameed 47, Malan 0) So Shardul Thakur, the tail-end tonker of the year, makes an impact again. That ball came in at Burns from round the wicket before seaming sharply away. For the first half of the over, it was all Burns – four to fine leg, two to backward point, 50 up and the hundred partnership to boot. He had done his job.
Thakur makes the breakthrough! Burns reaches 50, looking good, but then nicks an excellent ball that moves out of nowhere.
40th over: England 94-0 (Burns 44, Hameed 47) As the senior senior, Bumrah has taken on the role of the wily old miser. He has 4-2-3-0 today and each batter can only tuck him for a single. Come on England, do something! Lose a wicket! But not two!
39th over: England 92-0 (Burns 43, Hameed 46) Burns takes his obligatory single to leg off Yadav, and Hameed gets one too, for a better stroke, nice and crisp, but straight to the sweeper at deep square. Burns, warming to the task, swivels to turn his next tuck into a glance for four. He has 12 of the 15 runs we’ve seen today, so he is speeding up.
38th over: England 86-0 (Burns 38, Hameed 45) Kohli is doing to Burns what Joe Root did yesterday to Rishabh Pant: giving him easy singles. He helps himself to another tuck to square leg. Then Bumrah gets his inswinger to go a long way, most of it after Hameed’s leave, which prompts a fine take from Pant and some murmuring about reverse swing. Nine runs so far, off six overs, so the required run rate has crept up to 3.36 an over.
37th over: England 85-0 (Burns 37, Hameed 45) Another over from Yadav, another nurdle from Burns, a few more blocks from Hameed. Then there’s a hint of a strangle down the leg side, but the appeal is half-hearted and the review not forthcoming.
“Following up on Rob’s song-structure meme,” says Alistair Connor. “You’re probably a bit young, but for us over-whatevers, it’s David Bowie’s subtle tribute to cricket’s longest form that springs to mind. It starts slowly, leisurely, even a bit plodding, but it’s full of beautiful vignettes and subplots. And it slowly builds in intensity, towards a pulsating climax. “All the fast spinny people / All the long-on short-leg people / Never thought I’d need 22 people / Five days.” Ha. Bowie was a man of many guises, but I’m not sure cricket lover was one of them.
36th over: England 84-0 (Burns 36, Hameed 45) Another maiden from Bumrah. India are trying to bore Hameed out, which worked when he was not out overnight at Headingley.
35th over: England 84-0 (Burns 36, Hameed 45) Yadav gives Burns just what he would have ordered from the menu as his starter – a ball on his hips that he can tuck away for a single. Hameed, likewise, but on his toes. The eternal advantage of right hand, left hand. And then Burns guides through third slip for the first boundary of the day. That’s a good sign after his long stint in the slow lane last night: for England to have a chance, he will need to speed up or get out.
34th over: England 78-0 (Burns 31, Hameed 44) From the Vauxhall end it’s Jasprit Bumrah, India’s senior seamer now that Ishant and Shami are not there. He bowls at Hameed’s stumps too, so this looks like a policy. The first ball is a sharp yorker that Hameed does well to dig out, the rest harmless. That’s a maiden, so Burns is about to face his first ball of the day.
“We do this so often,” says Richard Morris in a tweet that comes with an audible sigh. “Get in a hopeless position, then the score ticks up, you fight the hope in your heart until it becomes an impossible to resist a tsunami of glorious expectation, then they lose 3 quick wickets including a ludicrous run-out & it’s all over before tea.”
33rd over: England 78-0 (Burns 31, Hameed 44) Kohli may be looking intense, but he’s not attacking. For Umesh Yadav, bowling to Haseeb Hameed, he has just two slips and no gully, and the only faint hint of funk is a short midwicket. Yadav bowls at the stumps and Hameed has no trouble blocking before tucking the last ball for a single.
The players are out there and Virat Kohli is addressing the Indian huddle. You can guess the rest, as Bryan Ferry once sang: he’s got an intense look on his face.
“I’m in our office in Shoreditch this morning,” says Matt Emerson, “whilst three miles away at The Oval 27,000 people are going to bask in the late summer sun watching one of the best Test series of the past few years. I’ve only one word to say to them. B@stards.”
“Loving the OBO as ever,” says Stephen Connor. Thank you, though most of that is down to Rob. “Extremely nervous/excited about this today. I’m keeping hope in check by recalling an England defeat in a strikingly similar situation back in 2001. England v Pakistan at Old Trafford. England needed 370 in 4th inns and were 85-0 at the end of day 4. Some friends and I went over from York for the final day to take advantage of the £10 tickets. Went with hope of an England victory in the morning, settled for a draw in the afternoon and then witnessed a defeat in the final session. I suppose I should have been grateful to be witnessing greats like Younis, Akram and Mushtaq first-hand but it didn’t feel like it at the time.” Nice tale. Later in 2001, and closer to York, England did manage a miracle. That was thanks to Mark Butcher – who is commentating today.
Thanks Rob and morning everyone. People keep using the words “beautifully poised”. Mike Atherton, in Another Newspaper this morning, even goes as far as to say “exquisitely poised”. Atherton doesn’t get much wrong, but this game is not that poised: India are firm favourites. The draw is second favourite, and England are the horse you get in the Grand National sweepstake that starts at 50-1 if it’s lucky. Even on a flat pitch, they’re going to need a miracle.
For reasons too boring to explain, I’m going to hand over to Tim de Lisle for the morning session. You can share your hopes, dreams and Clockwise quotes with him on email or via Twitter. See you later!
There’s plenty more cricket going on today, and Tanya Aldred is placing scores on doors as we speak.
“I was at the Oval yesterday and didn’t give England a sniff before the opening partnership,” says Robbie Chedburn. “But I’m putting my pessimistic self away for the day and I reckon we’ll win. What better time to solidify an opening pair! Also think India are going to miss Ashwin!”
I’ve seen some hostages to fortune in my time, but an England cricket fan promising to put their pessimistic self away for a whole day is right up there.
Morning! The best Test matches are a crescendo; they start slowly and build to an intoxicating final-day cliche. This marvellous match has had a slightly different song structure – it started loud, went quiet and now appears to be building towards a stentorian climax. Yes, I did get that from an online thesaurus.
Once you reach a certain age, few things stir the soul like the anticipation of a fifth day on which all four outcomes are possible. More importantly, the main three results are all credible. The fact it’s 1-1 in a tough, topsy-turvy series only enhances the excitement. The situation is so simple that you could put it on a mildly patronising scoreboard: England need 291 runs, India need 10 wickets. The pitch is flat for the seamers but doing plenty for Ravindra Jadeja, especially to the left-handers.
I don’t know about you, because you still won’t answer my WhatsApps, but I gave England no chance at the start of their innings. The giddiness started to kick in during a tranquil opening partnership between Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed, and I’m here for the lads as they chase a record target. England’s highest fourth-innings score to win a Test is 362 for nine against Australia a couple of years ago. Ben Stokes isn’t at the Oval, but I suspect he’s been all over the team WhatsApp group.
The CricViz win predictor is on a diet – in descending order, it reckons the most likely results are:
The sun is shining, the Kia Oval is full. It’s going to be emotional.