Virat Kohli and boys play for pride as hosts look to give Cook perfect farewell


London, September 6: India’s most famous Test win on English soil came at the Oval 47 years ago, which is also their only win at this famous venue in 12 trips. However, the last game in 2014 ended in an innings defeat with a demoralised India, 1-2 coming here, routed for 148 and 94.
Skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri though will seek inspiration from India’s maiden Test win in England in 1971 here for the historic series. They have promised to fight on despite losing the the Southampton Test in four days to concede India’s third series in a row in England.
India’s lower-order batsmen came unstuck on a dry Ageas Bowl pitch last week with off-spinner Moeen Ali taking nine wickets by exploiting the rough caused by bowlers’ footmarks. The Oval pitch has some grass, but is dry and is expected to give pacers the upper-hand in the first two days before spinners make a mark, a pattern seen over the last 10 years and 10 games.
England have a 4-4 win-loss record at the Oval in the last decade, including two innings wins over India. Off-spinner Graeme Swann was a key wicket-taker in the 2009 win over Australia and the 2011 defeat of India.
However, India’s potent pace attack has taken 20 wickets in three of the four Tests and can take a leaf out of Pakistan’s win here in 2016, when they first struck with the pace of Mohammad Amir, Sohail Khan and Wahab Riaz — they shared 10 wickets – and then with leg-spinner Yasir Shah (5) and off-spinner Iftikhar Ahmed (1).
England’s win over South Africa last year too followed the same script. The first two innings saw pacers take 19 wickets. In the second innings though, SA left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj took three of the seven England wickets before Moeen’s 4/45 sealed the 239-run victory. (HT)