Dravid scores century, India falter again (Lead)

August 22nd, 2011 - 1:23 am ICT by IANS  

Sachin Tendulkar London, Aug 21 (IANS) India were staring at another huge loss and a series whitewash against England as they were left with seven wickets after the fourth day’s play in the fourth Test at The Oval here Sunday.

Following on, India were tottering at 129/3 in their second innings with Sachin Tendulkar (35) and nightwatchman Amit Mishra (8) at the crease. India still trail England’s first innings total of 591/6 by 162 runs, having bundled out for 300 in their first innings just before tea Sunday.

A defiant Rahul Dravid (146 not out) was the lone bright spot for the visitors as he scored his 35th century, the third of the series.

But Dravid, who again filled in the opener’s slot in the second innings, fell to Graeme Swann (2-51), caught bat pad for 13 runs after England went in for a review.

Swann also claimed the wicket of Virender Sehwag (33) while V.V.S. Laxman (24) was cleaned up by James Anderson.

It was again Dravid all along who guided India as he has done throughout the series. But with no support from the other end, his efforts failed to boost India’s total. It was the first time in six innings that India managed to touch 300, a pointer to the performance of the batsmen, who have struggled to negotiate the seaming and swinging conditions.

The English attack has bowled with pace and swing. Dravid, however, has looked like batting on a different wicket and zone than his teammates. He stood tall amid the ruins to bring up his 35th century and nudged India to 218/6 at lunch.

The visitors, resuming at 103/5, lost Mahendra Singh Dhoni (17) after addition of just 32 runs.

The Indian captain was dismissed by James Anderson with another crafty away-going delivery.

Mishra (43) then lent support to Dravid at the other end. The two forged a 87-run stand for the seventh wicket.

Dravid, the lone Indian batsmen to put up a fight in the series, scored his third century of the series which took him past Sunil Gavaskar’s 34th career ton. He is now fourth in the list of number of centuries scored after Sachin Tendulkar (51), Jacques Kallis (40) and Ricky Ponting (39).

The ‘Wall’, beginning the day on 57, brought up his century with a cut off Tim Bresnan. He took 168 balls and struck 15 fours.

Dravid and Mishra scored the runs at a brisk pace, with the latter freeing his arms against the spinners.

Mishra hit six fours and came out a long way to send Graeme Swann (3-102) soaring over the long on boundary for a straight six on the last ball before lunch.

Mishra’s gritty knock was brought to an end by a brilliant catch from a diving Ian Bell behind square off Tim Bresnan (3-54).

Gautam Gambhir, who could not bat Saturday due to mild concussion, lasted 62 balls for his 10 runs before being done in by a short delivery from Stuart Broad (2-51). Dravid, who struck 20 fours in his resolute 266-ball knock, added 40 runs with Gambhir.

R.P. Singh made 25 with five fours before Bresnan (3-54) got him and S. Sreesanth within a space of two balls to bring India’s innings to an end.

Asked to follow on, the visitors began the second innings staring at a huge first innings deficit of 291 runs. The man in form, Dravid came out to open with Sehwag (16) and the two played out the six overs before tea with India reaching 25/0.

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