England on brink of India whitewash


England finally saw off Rahul Dravid as they closed in on a 4-0 series rout of India at The Oval here on Sunday. Dravid batted for more than seven hours in the fourth Test before England finally found a way to break ‘The Wall’.
But India, following-on, were 129 for three at the close of the fourth day, still 162 runs behind England’s first innings 591 for six declared built upon Ian Bell’s Test-best 235 and Kevin Pietersen’s 175. Sachin Tendulkar, bidding for an unprecedented 100th international century, was 25 not out and nightwatchman Amit Mishra eight not out. England though needed just seven more wickets on Monday’s final day to complete a 4-0 clean sweep for the first time since a home whitewash of the West Indies in 2004.
India resumed Sunday in the desperate position of 103 for five. Dravid was 57 not out and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni five not out. But Dhoni, who never looked settled, was out for 17 when he pushed tentatively at a James Anderson outswinger and was caught behind. Dravid, responsible for all three India centuries this series, sped through the 90s with three fours in four balls from off-spinner Graeme Swann, a sweep and a late cut preceding his elegant advance down the pitch to create a half-volley he clipped through mid-wicket A late cut two off Tim Bresnan then saw Dravid to his hundred.
Dravid’s century was the second time this series he’d made a hundred while opening in the absence of regular opener Gautam Gambhir. He had previously made 117, when Gambhir missed the second Test at Trent Bridge with an elbow injury, following his 103 not out at Lord’s. Dravid’s 35th Test century took him in front of hero Sunil Gavaskar’s mark of 34 and fourth in the all-time list behind Tendulkar (51), South Africa’s Jacques Kallis (40) and Australia’s Ricky Ponting (39). India started the second session on 218 for six, with Dravid 109 not out and Mishra, who’d driven Swann for six off the last ball before lunch, 38 not out.
However, Mishra added just five more runs before he was brilliantly caught by a diving Bell at an unusually positioned short backward square leg off a pull against Bresnan. The new ball did for Gambhir, who’d suffered concussion while fielding on Friday, when he fended at Stuart Broad and was caught by Pietersen at gully.