8th over: England 15-0 (Burns 7, Hameed 7) With the left-handed Burns at the crease, Virat Kohli decides to bring on his left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja. That’s a nice, aggressive move – as Shane Warne says on Sky, the new ball should really bite in the rough outside Burns’ off stump. The first two balls turn sharply back into Burns, but he’s a bit too short for the rest of the over and England milk four runs.
“Why do all your emailers think England can win?” enquires Mac Millings. “Firstly, it’s England. Secondly, Test cricket has been played on every sort of surface, in most kinds of weather, and all types of environments for the best part of 150 years, and the total number of successful fourth-innings run chases higher than 368 is 3 (three). Sure, all three have been in the last 22 years, but do you know how many Test matches have been played in that time without that happening? Seriously, do you? Because I have no idea, and I’m not going to look it up.”
When you say “3 (three)”, Mac, are you sure you didn’t mean 9 (nine)?
7th over: England 11-0 (Burns 4, Hameed 6) Yadav gets a bit of extra bounce to Hameed, who does quite well to drop the ball short of gully. Another maiden.
“Even though an England win is extremely unlikely, any of the three possible results will tell quite the story,” says Niall Mullen. “God bless you Test cricket.”
Don’t forget there are four possible results, five if you count the end of the world.
6th over: England 11-0 (Burns 4, Hameed 6) Hameed leaves a ball from Bumrah that doesn’t miss the off stump by that much. The Indian cordon are disproportionately excited, probably in an attempt to unsettle Hameed. It was close but not that close. A single from Hameed brings Burns on strike, and he clips crisply through midwicket for three. So far, so kay for England.
5th over: England 6-0 (Burns 1, Hameed 4) Hameed drops Yadav on the off side and takes a quick single, a small but laudable statement of intent. Yadav moves round the wicket and hoops one back to Burns, who drives along the ground to mid-on. England will be encouraged by that delivery because until then the ball had done very little.
4th over: England 4-0 (Burns 0, Hameed 3) So far, so comfortable for England. India have bowled a bit too wide, especially to the right-handed Hameed, and he is leaving everything pitched up outside off stump. He does go after a short ball but mistimes a cut into the ground.
“It is critical that the England batters show application and make India earn their wickets,” says Spencer. “A 50-over collapse, and England might as well write off the next Test. If India are too good, fair play, but make them earn the wickets and put some miles in Indian bowlers.”
This does feel like the kind of game that India will win in the final session. Tomorrow, that is, honkety honk. I expect India to win but will be surprised if they run through England.
3rd over: England 4-0 (Burns 0, Hameed 3) Hameed gets off a pair, working Yadav confidently off the hip for three. It should only have been a couple but he got an extra run when Jadeja’s throw from the deep was fumbled by Thakur.
“Why do all the pundits seem to think that the draw is more likely than an England win?” says James Higgott. “Obviously, an England win is *very* unlikely but if they do bat 126 overs I’d have thought they’d get to the score they need to win. The required rate is less than three an over and the weather is set fair.”
I guess there are two main reasons. India can slow the game down if it looks likethey could lose, and also England will naturally bat more cautiously than they would if this was the first innings and the match was a blank canvas. They could win but I’d say the draw is much more likely.
2nd over: England 0-0 (Burns 0, Hameed 0) Haseeb Hameed is on a pair, facing Jasprit Bumrah. Good luck with that. Bumrah starts with a bit of a range-finder, and Hameed is able to leave most deliveries. Another iamden.
“Rob, the naysayers do seem unfairly pessimistic,” says Kim Thonger. “Surely England have a chance of not only saving the game but winning it? Admittedly I make this optimistic claim from a blood temperature hot tub in searing sunshine with air temperature about 34C and a glass of cava in hand but still, don’t they?”
No. Also, have you seen how empty that glass is?
1st over: England 0-0 (Burns 0, Hameed 0) Rohit and Pujara are off the field with niggles, so the substitute Suryakumar Yadav is at third slip. Umesh Yadav starts with a maiden to Burns, all fairly harmless.
More realistically, England need to bat around 126 overs to draw the game. On a relatively flat pitch, the two new balls will be vital. If England lose no more than one wicket tonight, they have a chance. Some ifs are bigger than others.
WICKET! India 466 all out (Yadav c Moeen b Overton 25)
All over. Yadav clouts Overton to cover and runs off to get changed into his bowling gear. That was a terrificbatting performance from India, who inflicted almost 150 overs of hard yakka on the England bowlers and fielders. The upshot is that England need 368 to win
148th over: India 465-9 (Yadav 25, Siraj 1) Yadav hits his second six of the innings, lifting Woakes handsomely over mid-on. This is all credit in the bank for India – not just runs but also the old mental disintegration. England look very hot and pretty bothered.
“What’s the forecast for tomorrow, Rob?” says Simon McMahon. “Raining wickets seems a good bet.”
I think it’s a steady drizzle of wickets until 5pm, and then a whole lotta doom and gloom.
147th over: India 458-9 (Yadav 19, Siraj 1) Now it’s Yadav’s turn to have some fun. He pulls a short ball from Overton to the midwicket boundary, and a handful of singles lift the lead to 359. This lower-order biffing has surely ended what little chance there was of an England win. A draw shouldn’t be beyond the realms on this pitch.
146th over: India 450-9 (Yadav 13, Siraj 0) That was the last ball of the over. India lead by 351.
WICKET! India 450-9 (Bumrah c Moeen b Woakes 24)
A weary Chris Woakes gets his seventh wicket of the match. Bumrah, who clipped a classy boundary earlier in the over, clothed a pull straight to Moeen Ali at mid-on to end another useful lower-order innings.
145th over: India 446-8 (Yadav 13, Bumrah 20) This will be an extended session, with play finishing at 6.48pm to make up some of yesterday’s lost time. Craig Overton, who has almost been a specialist nightwatchman in this game, bowls the first over after tea. Bumrah takes a single off the last ball to move into the twenties. Before this series Bumrah had a Test batting average of 2.26; in this series he’s averaging 20.75.
The players are back on the field, and India are still batting. Please sir, I want some less.
144th over: India 445-8 (lead by 346; Yadav 13, Bumrah 19) A flighted delivery from Moeen is launched to cow corner by Bumrah, who is again having fun with the bat. On this occasion, England haven’t tried to pick a fight with him.
That’s the end of a fantastic session for India: 116 runs from 26 overs for the loss of Pant and Thakuar. They lead by 346 runs and, though they aren’t completely safe, the box seat looks pretty snug. Are those cushions from Anthropologie?
143rd over: India 440-8 (Yadav 13, Bumrah 14) Chris Woakes replaces Joe Root. His first ball almost leads to a run-out when Bumrah is sent back by Yadav. Hameed’s throw missed the stumps with Bumrah scrambling to make his ground.
Bumrah thumps a boundary past Root at mid-off, and then Root pulls up holding the back of his left leg. Tremendous stuff. He’s not moving freely, but he’s staying at mid-off so it doesn’t seem too serious.
142nd over: India 435-8 (Yadav 13, Bumrah 9) The minds of the England players are already frazzled, so the last thing they need is to be humiliated by Bumrah again. India are batting with abandon, as if anything’s a bonus. They are probably right.
“Afternoon Rob, afternoon everyone,” says Neil Withers. “Just thought I’d let you know that Jimmy is one catch away from a rare double – 100 wickets and 100 catches! Top of the list is Kallis, with 292 wickets and a whopping 200 catches. Then it’s Warne (125 catches) Botham (120), Hooper (115) and Sobers (109). Interestingly*, the only other current player on 100+ wickets with a sniff of joining the list is Stokes with 81 catches.”
141st over: India 431-8 (Yadav 12, Bumrah 6) Bumrah reaches outside off stump to sweep Root to the midwicket boundary. A single takes the score to 429 for eight, and for a brief moment we’re all transported back to 1979. And then Bumrah goes and spoils it all by saying something like ‘One run’.
140th over: India 424-8 (Yadav 10, Bumrah 1) Yadav clouts Moeen over long-on for six, and a handful of singles takes India’s lead up to 325.
“Pant dragging himself off the pitch like he thinks he might have thrown the game,” says Brian Withington. “If so, I wish my optimism matched his pessimism. Game half full?”
I think his despair was more because he was desperate to have a bit of fun. I don’t think it even registered on the Pontingometer.
139th over: India 415-8 (Yadav 2, Bumrah 0) The dismissals of Pant and Thakur have increased India’s changes of winning the game, because the draw is now almost impossible. They have also increased India’s chances of losing the game, though I doubt Virat Kohli is too worried. India lead by 316.
138th over: India 414-8 (Yadav 1, Bumrah 0) The below is a sizeable problem going into the Old Trafford Test. I’m not sure you can play both Anderson and Robinson.
WICKET! India 414-8 (Pant ct and b Moeen 50)
I take it all back: Moeen has come on at the other end. Pant drives him for a single to reach a (mostly) responsible fifty from 105 balls. I’m sure you’ll agree that, by playing so sensibly for two and a half hours, Pant has earned the right to have a bit of fun.
He does… for one ball. Pant smoked the ball straight at Moeen, who took a smart two-handed catch by his right shoulder. Pant is so upset that he can barely leave the field. He worked so hard and was desperate to have an hour of bish-bosh.
137th over: India 412-7 (Pant 49, Yadav 0) The fact Root brought himself on is a reflection of Moeen Ali’s plummeting morale. I have a hunch that at least one and maybe both of Moeen and Jos Buttler will retire from Test cricket in the next month. I’m not sure they need the pain any more.
WICKET! India 412-7 (Thakur c Overton b Root 60)
If you want a job done… Joe Root brings himself on and strikes straight away. Thakur edges a muscular drive to slip, where Overton takes a smart catch. Thakur gets a fine ovation for another rollocking innings – 60 from 72 balls with seven fours and a six.
136th over: India 411-6 (Pant 49, Thakur 60) Never mind two fifties in a Test, Thakur might be sniffing a hundred. He belts Robinson down the ground for another four to move into the sixties, and now India lead by 312.
“England will comfortably see out day five after briefly considering going for the win, and us Indian fans will wonder if things would have been different if Ashwin played,” says Fahd Mashood. “What is the highest fourth-innings total at this ground by the way?”
I think it’s India’s 429 for eight in 1979, when they fell just short of victory. Thing is, England are hopeless at batting for a draw – since this team started to form in the summer of 2014, they have never batted out the final day to draw a Test. That’s a pretty damning statistic, especially when you consider all the great escapes from 2009-13. This pitch is fine, and England bat very deep, but I don’t think they are mentally strong or defensively sound enough to survive 110 overs.
135th over: India 405-6 (Pant 47, Thakur 55) India are on the charge. Thakur drives Anderson through mid-off for four to bring up the 400, the first time India have reached that score since the turn of the decade, and then Pant runs down the track to smash the ball to the cover boundary.
134th over: India 396-6 (Pant 43, Thakur 50) Thakur launches a slower ball from Robinson over long on for six! His irksome batting has had a profound impact on this game, and now he has joined an exclusive club. After Pant inside-edges a boundary, Thakuar pulls a single to reach another bristling half-century: 65 balls, 5×4, 1×6. Thakur is only the ninth lower-order batsman* to score two fifties in the same Test. The list has been dominated in recent times by Indian players – Harbhajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Wriddhiman Saha and now Shardul Thakur. And because of that, India lead by 297 runs.
* Nos 8-11
133rd over: India 383-6 (Pant 38, Thakur 43) Thakur lifts Anderson lazily, almost nonchalantly, over backward square leg for four. Pant then survives a big LBW appeal after missing a reverse sweep (!) at Anderson (!!). It looked pretty good – very good – but Richard Illingworth wasn’t interested and England have no reviews left. Replays show it was umpire’s call on height, so that’s fair enough.
132nd over: India 378-6 (Pant 38, Thakur 38) Thanks Tim, hello every- FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! England have missed a glorious run-out chance. Pant turned Robinson into the leg side and set off. He was three-quarters of the way down the pitch when Thakur sent him back, but Moeen flung the ball wide of the stumps. He had enough time to wait for Bairstow to arrive and lob the ball into him – or even, as Mark Butcher says on Sky, to do a Jonty Rhodes and demolish the stumps on foot. Sad to say, that bit of fielding completes a three-dimensional shocker for Moeen in this game, starting with his match-turning dismissal on Friday.
131st over: India 375-6 (Pant 37, Thakur 36) Anderson’s break was a short one, so short that he continues his spell. And gets his second-favourite thing, a maiden. That’s drinks, with India making up for a bad hour before lunch with a superb one since. They lead by 276 and the game is now theirs to lose.
“We’ve just had a splendid lunch here in Madrid,” says Kim Thonger, “and a random thought popped into my head as I coyly sipped a digestif. Wouldn’t Pant be a MARVELLOUS bullfighter?” That rather depends on whether the bull is canny enough to have a fourth slip.
Time for me to hand over to Rob Smyth, who will at least make sure that any England humiliation is washed down with some wit and wisdom. Thanks for your company, correspondence and observations on the Buttler’s interior decor, and I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon if this Test goes that far.
130th over: India 375-6 (Pant 37, Thakur 36) England have reached the stage of a long innings where they just want to be off the field, like Tsitsipas against Murray. Woakes took a breather as soon as his spell ended, Pope soon followed, and now Anderson is sitting in front of the dressing-room, having a drink of water. That’s modern players for you, and who can blame them. The more time-honoured role of putting in the hard yards is in safe hands with Robinson, who bowls another maiden. He tries two short balls at Thakur, the second one also a slower ball, and gets him in a bit of a tangle. That is England’s best moment since lunch.
129th over: India 375-6 (Pant 37, Thakur 36) Anderson drops just short enough to allow Thakur to cut for three. Someone needs to inform Thakur that Jimmy doesn’t approve of tail-end runs: these days, he even refuses to make them himself.
128th over: India 372-6 (Pant 37, Thakur 33) Here is Robinson, giving Root what he wanted by bowling a maiden to Pant. He is greeted by the now-traditional blast of “Here’s to you, Ollie Robinson” on the trumpet. Actually, blast is just the wrong word: this trumpeter manages to find the sadness in most tunes. And I mean that as a compliment.
127th over: India 372-6 (Pant 37, Thakur 33) If anyone can find the plug, it’s Anderson, who grudgingly allows each batsman a single. “Gripping stuff today,” says Jeremy Boyce. “I’d love to suggest that Root brings on some legend from the past (Laker, Trueman, Bedser, Underwood…) as England’s top wicket-taker in Tests against India, but actually he’s already on the pitch. JimmyJimmyJimmy is out in front with 118 but not making much impression on 119 today so far.” No, and his recent record, curiously, doesn’t inspire much confidence: in the past three years, he averages 19 in the opposition’s first innings of a Test, 41 in the second (thank you, Statsguru). Time waits for no man.
126th over: India 370-6 (Pant 36, Thakur 32) That man at silly mid-off for Woakes takes a step to his left, towards extra-cover, where Thakur’s last uppish stroke went. So he sends his next one to midwicket, and picks up three more. He’s been so fluent. Pant piles in with a cut for four, turning a decent ball into an expensive one with his fast hands. Woakes, usually so tidy, has 4-0-20-0 since lunch, and the alarm bells are ringing. Nee-naw, nee-naw – Root needs to send for Robinson.
125th over: India 363-6 (Pant 32, Thakur 29) Moeen comes off, which feels right, and here’s Anderson to have a go at Pant. The new, sober, grown-up Pant just nurdles a single off Anderson’s second ball to bring up the fifty partnership off 13.3 overs. It’s been a stand of two halves: watchful before lunch, gleeful since. India lead by 264, and WinViz gives them four times as much chance of a win as England – 63pc to 16, with the draw creeping up to 21.
124th over: India 361-6 (Pant 31, Thakur 28) Woakes, like Overton before him, now has a silly mid-off, desperately seeking a loose drive. And Thakur plays one – but it’s well to that man’s left, off a leading edge, and it lands safely where an orthodox extra-cover might have been. The gods, capricious as ever, were supporting England before lunch, but have now changed sides.
123rd over: India 358-6 (Pant 30, Thakur 26) After all that restraint, Pant finally has a go at Mo, lofting him for four, one bounce over the Toblerone at long-off. Like Thakur, he follows a blast with a nudge for a single. Thakur weighs in with a cut for four and the lead stretches to 259. For England, this isn’t ominous any more: it’s The Omen.
“Can’t think of many more explosive batting partnerships than Pant and Thakur,” Colum Fordham said at lunch, shrewdly. “Possibly Bairstow and Stokes or a fantasy duo of Gayle and Botham, so it’s going to be fascinating to see whether they will rein in their attacking instincts with Moeen on. Loved Moeen’s delivery to dismiss Kohli. Hopefully, it will give him the confidence to carry on bowling that line. What a Test match!”
122nd over: India 348-6 (Pant 25, Thakur 21) The sun is out, the sky is blue and Woakes is bowling: what more could an England crowd ask for? Another wicket, that’s what, to bring in the rabbits. And it doesn’t come, though Woakes does regain control after that costly first over.
121st over: India 346-6 (Pant 24, Thakur 20) England need to find the plug and Moeen does better in this over, conceding two singles and drawing an inside edge from Thakur that dies before it reaches short leg, just as so many edges did earlier in the slips. England will need that trend to continue into the fourth innings.
120th over: India 344-6 (Pant 23, Thakur 19) From the pavilion end it’s Woakes, so his duel with Thakur is on again. This round goes to Thakur, who plays an off-drive for four followed by a push for a single, to prove that he’s not drunk on his own strokeplay. Before that, there was a punch for three from Pant. India have 15 since lunch, and a lead of 245 overall.
Here’s Smylers. “Congratulations to Jos Buttler and his wife on the birth of Margot,” he says. Hear hear, though we’d better give a name-check to Louise, who may have done most of the heavy lifting. “Any idea why the Buttlers have a framed giant ace of diamonds on their wall (as seen reflected in the mirror behind them)? Is Jos a known fan of diamonds? Or aces?” Ha.
119th over: India 336-6 (Pant 20, Thakur 14) Play resumes after lunch, but I don’t think Pant had much to eat, because he’s looking hungry. Facing Moeen, which is surely what he want, he pushes into the on side for two, then rocks back to play a cut that deserves more than a single. England appeal for a run-out as Woakes pulls off a direct hit from cover, but Thakur has run his bat in, and he picks up another one via the ricochet.
118th over: India 329-6 (Pant 16, Thakur 11) There are batsmen who play for lunch, and then there is Shardal Thakur. Even though there’s a silly mid-off waiting for the miscue, he drives Overton straight back for four. Root replies by adding a silly mid-on as well, so Overton has the field he would have had when he was ten. That’s good captaincy, but Thakur survives. This partnership, though it has only added 17, has begun to exude some menace, and England have burned their reviews.
And so to lunch. England have won the session, thanks to the enduring excellence of their 30-something all-rounders, Chris Woakes and Moeen – but India are still bossing the match. It’s been enthralling: Test cricket is giving us yet another top-class boxed set. See you in half an hour for the next instalment.
117th over: India 324-6 (Pant 15, Thakur 7) Pant, who averages 57 against spin and 32 against pace, is itching to tuck into Moeen. he goes down the track twice in this over, but collects only a single, driven out to the cover sweeper. Thakur does play an expansive shot, a classy cover drive, and gets four for it – but then Mo drops shorter and Thakur plays and misses, going for the cut. One more over before lunch.
116th over: India 318-6 (Pant 14, Thakur 2) Pant is not in one-day mode, or even his usual Test mode, but England are treating him as if he is and dishing up the odd slower ball. When Overton tries one, Pant is equal to it, playing the shot that is in danger of becoming his new signature: the nudge to leg. He’s bringing sexless back.
115th over: India 315-6 (Pant 13, Thakur 2) Moeen continues as a caption informs us that he now has 194 Test wickets, one more than Jim Laker. Go Mo! He then bowls a ball that Laker would be proud of, a big off-break to Thakur, and it pops up off the pad to Haseeb Hameed at short leg. The appeal gets a crisp shake of the head from the umpire, but England review, hoping it’s either LBW or caught. No joy – it’s missing the leg stump as well as the inside edge. Buttler might have saved them from that one.
114th over: India 314-6 (Pant 13, Thakur 1) Woakes would love to have a go at Thakur, who marmalised him on Thursday, but he’s due a rest, so Overton returns with a change of ends. His extra bounce elicits two things from Pant: a pull, played straight to square leg; and a nick that drops short of Moeen at third slip. That has happened a lot this morning.