After a COVID-19 enforced postponement, the T20 World Cup will finally get underway on Sunday.

Initially scheduled to take place in Australia last year, and then India following the postponement, the competition will now take place in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

A first round featuring eight teams, including debutants Namibia and Papua New Guinea as well as 2014 champions Sri Lanka (who have reached three T20 World Cup finals, more than any other side), gets the tournament up and running, with four teams progressing into the Super 12 stage.

The West Indies are aiming to defend their title, having edged out England in the 2016 edition. Eoin Morgan's team, who have the world's top T20 batsman in their ranks, are sure to be one of the main challengers for the Windies' crown.

Virat Kohli's India are among the favourites, while Pakistan will be hoping captain Babar Azam delivers. Australia and New Zealand (the most economic side when it came to bowling in 2016) cannot be discounted either, with South Africa also improving in recent years.

It promises to be a thrilling tournament and, with the help of Opta, Stats Perform looks at some of the key data points heading into the tournament.

 

Gayle on the record trail

The Windies have won two of the last three T20 World Cups, triumphing in 2016 and 2012 either side of Sri Lanka's success, and they remain the only team to have won the tournament on multiple occasions. Key to their sustained success has been Chris Gayle, who at 42, is still the face of the sport in the Caribbean.

He is just 80 runs away from becoming the second player to score 1,000 runs at the T20 World Cup. In fact, he needs only 97 runs to surpass Mahela Jayawardene's record tally of 1,016. Gayle already holds one competition record, for the number of sixes (60), while he averages 40 across 26 innings at the tournament, with a brilliant strike rate of 146.7.

New Zealand great Brendon McCullum (123) is the only player to have a higher T20 World Cup score than Gayle's 117, and you would not bet against the Windies talisman claiming that record either.

Gayle will have able support from the likes of Kieron Pollard (1,378 T20 runs), Dwayne Bravo (1,229) and Lendl Simmons (1,508), not to mention Nicholas Pooran.

Despite batting in the middle order, Pooran hit the second-highest number of sixes in this year's Caribbean Premier League (25). He also has form in the middle east, having struck 350 runs at a rate of 170 in the most recent edition of the Indian Premier League.

 

Malan and Livingstone to lead England

The Windies' first opponents in the Super 12 phase will be England, who will be out for revenge. They had a batting strike rate of 148 in 2016, the best of any team, but still fell short. Yet while the West Indies are now ninth in the ICC's T20I rankings, Morgan's men sit top of the pile.

Dawid Malan is the star batsman. He is ranked number one in the world in T20Is, with a rating of 841, way clear of second-placed Babar (819). Over 30 innings, he has amassed 1,123 runs at an average of 43.2 and a strike rate of 139.3.

Morgan, not shy of a big innings himself, is also able to call on Liam Livingstone, who has made a fantastic start to his T20I career. 

From seven innings, Livingstone has hit 206 runs with a strike rate of 167.5. His high score of 103 is the joint-highest in England's squad, level with Malan (103 not out).

As was the case at the 2019 World Cup, England's batting depth is exceptional, though they are shorn of Ben Stokes, who always seems to deliver when it matters most.

 

Kohli's last shot

Not too far behind Malan in the ICC's T20I batsman rankings is India star Kohli, who is stepping down as the captain in the shortest format of the game following the World Cup.

Winners of the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, India have only reached one other final, back in 2014. Kohli was named player of the tournament, top-scoring with 319 runs, and as he prepares to bow out as captain, he will be determined to cap off his tenure on a high.

No player has made more half-centuries in the competition than the 32-year-old (level with Gayle on nine), though Kohli is yet to log a century.

Kohli's hopes may well rest on the shoulders of Rohit Sharma. The opener debuted with an unbeaten half-century back in 2007 and has made 111 T20I appearances, behind only Shoaib Malik (116) and Mohammed Hafeez (113).

Only Martin Guptill (147) has struck more sixes than Sharma (133) in the format, while over the last five years, India have won every time the batsman has scored 50+ runs.

 

Captain fantastic

Shahid Afridi has taken the most wickets of any player in T20 World Cup history (39). Indeed, Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan has taken the most wickets at the tournament of any player set to participate in this edition (30), which shows the void Pakistan are having to fill following Afridi's retirement.

They do, however, possess a supreme batsman in the form of captain Babar. 

Since his T20I bow in 2016, Babar has tallied up 2,204 runs. His average of 46.9 puts him third on the all-time T20I list (20+ innings), behind Kohli (52.7) and his fellow opener Mohammad Rizwan (48.4), who provides another string to Pakistan's bow.

Babar, who has only managed one century to date (122 from 59 balls against South Africa earlier this year) was the fastest player to 2,000 T20I runs (52 innings) beating Kohli's previous best of 56, and an enticing encounter between the sub-continental rivals takes place on October 24.

Virat Kohli has announced he will step down as captain of Indian Premier League side Royal Challengers Bangalore after the 2021 season is finished.

After a coronavirus-enforced suspension, the IPL restarted on Sunday, with Chennai Super Kings taking on Mumbai Indians in the United Arab Emirates.

However, ahead of Bangalore's clash with Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday, Kohli confirmed he will soon be bringing his time as captain to an end.

Kohli's announcement comes just three days after he confirmed he will step down as India's T20I captain after the upcoming T20 World Cup.

The highest scorer in T20Is, Kohli revealed the news in a video shared to RCB's official Twitter account.

"To the whole RCB family, the fans, the amazing fans of Bangalore and to everyone who has been a supporter of RCB for so many years, I have an announcement to make," he said.

"Before the second leg of the tournament starts, to inform everyone that this is going to be my last leg in the IPL as captain of RCB.

"I've spoken to the management, it's something that has been on my mind for a while, as I recently announced stepping down from T20 captaincy as well to manage my workload, which has been immense over the past few years.

"I want to continue to be committed to the responsibilities fully, and I felt I needed the space to refresh, regroup and be absolutely clear in how I want to move forward."

However, Kohli – who was signed by RCB in 2008 and was made captain in 2013 – insisted he has no plans to cut his time with the franchise short, despite his step back from leadership duties.

"Also understanding that RCB is going to go through a transitional phase, with a big auction coming next year, I made it clear to the management that I can't think of me being at any other team than RCB," Kohli continued.

"That has been my commitment since day one. I will continue to be an RCB player until my last game in the IPL.

"It's been a great journey of joy, frustration, moments of happiness and sadness, and I just want to thank all of you for believing in me and supporting me, relentlessly and unconditionally.

"I will continue to be committed to playing for this franchise until the last day of IPL, for you guys, the fans, because of what you have done for me and made me feel over the past so many years. It has meant so much.

"So, thank you so much; this is just a little halt, it is not the end of the journey, the journey will continue and it will continue the same way that it has for so many years."

Kohli accumulated 198 runs across the first seven games of the 2021 IPL season. In total, he has played 199 matches in the competition, averaging 37.97 with a high score of 113.

Virat Kohli has announced that he will step down as captain of the India T20I team after the upcoming World Cup.

Batting star Kohli said he needed to cut down his workload to be at his most effective in future, as he heads towards his mid-thirties.

The highest scorer in international T20 cricket, Kohli said he would continue to play for the team but would hand over leadership responsibilities.

He will remain captain of the Test and ODI teams, and will hope to go out on a high note as skipper in the shortest format.

The Super 12 stage of the World Cup, which is where India begin their campaign, begins for Kohli's team with an October 24 clash against Pakistan in Dubai.

Kohli wrote in a note posted to social media on Thursday: "I have been fortunate enough to not only represent India but also lead the Indian cricket teams to my utmost capability.

"Understanding workload is a very important thing and considering my immense workload over the last 8-9 years playing all three formats and captaining regularly for the last 5-6 years, I feel I need to give myself space to be fully ready to lead the Indian team in Test and ODI cricket.

"I have given everything to the team during my time at T20 captain and I will continue to do so for the T20 team as a batsman moving forward.

"Of course, arriving at this decision took a lot of time. After a lot of contemplation and discussions with my close people, Ravi bhai [Ravi Shastri] and also Rohit [Sharma], who have been an essential part of the leadership group, I've decided to step down as the T20 captain after this T20 World Cup in Dubai in October.

"I have also spoken to the secretary Mr Jay Shah and the president of BCCI Mr Sourav Ganguly along with all the selectors about the same. I will continue to serve Indian cricket and the Indian team to the best of my ability."

Kohli has been captain of India in all formats since 2017, having taken over the limited-overs responsibilities from MS Dhoni.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is working with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to reschedule the fifth Test after it was called off due to coronavirus fears.

The final match in the series at Old Trafford, which India lead 2-1, was cancelled a little over two hours before the first day of action was due to begin at 11:00 BST as India felt they were unable to field a team.

India head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive for COVID-19 during the fourth Test victory at The Oval and has been isolating along with backroom staff members Bharat Arun, R Sridhar and Nitin Patel.

Another member of the tourists' camp, reported to be a junior physio, was next to test positive on Thursday, forcing India to cancel their training session on the eve of the match 

Despite each member of the India squad returning negative PCR tests on Thursday, the decision was taken to call off the fifth Test to prevent the respiratory disease from further spreading.

In a statement published on Friday, the ECB initially said that India had forfeited the Test and the series was therefore drawn at 2-2, but they later clarified that was not the case.

The BCCI has now stated the call to cancel the contest was a joint decision and the governing body is working closely with the ECB to find a window to reschedule the final Test.

"The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) along with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have jointly decided to call off the fifth Test match scheduled at Manchester in India's tour of England 2021," the statement read.

"The BCCI and ECB held several rounds of discussion to find a way to play the Test match, however, the outbreak of Covid-19 in the Indian team contingent forced the decision of calling off the Old Trafford Test match.

"In lieu of the strong relationship between BCCI and ECB, the BCCI has offered to ECB a rescheduling of the cancelled Test match. Both the Boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match.

"The BCCI has always maintained that the safety and well-being of the players is of paramount importance and there will be no compromise on that aspect. 

"The BCCI would like to thank the ECB for their co-operation and understanding in these trying times. We would like to apologise to the fans for not being able to complete an enthralling series."

Any prospect of rescheduling the match during the current tour seems unlikely as the Indian Premier League resumes in the United Arab Emirates on September 19.

England are already due to host India next year across three T20Is and three ODIs, including a T20 fixture in Manchester on July 1.

The fifth Test between England and India at Old Trafford has been called off due to fears of rising coronavirus cases in the tourists' camp.

The start of the final match in the series had been in doubt after India cancelled a practice session on Thursday as a result of a member of their support staff testing positive for COVID-19.

England had been hopeful of the contest, which was due to begin at 11:00BST on Friday, going ahead as planned.

But after talks between the England and Wales Cricket (ECB) board and their Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) counterparts, the match has been cancelled.

"Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth LV= Insurance Test between England and India men due to start today at Emirates Old Trafford, will be cancelled," an ECB statement read.

"Due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases inside the camp, India are regrettably unable to field a team.

"We send our sincere apologies to fans and partners for this news, which we know will cause immense disappointment and inconvenience to many."

The statement initially said India had forfeited the final Test and the series was drawn at 2-2, but that was later removed.

India head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive for coronavirus ahead of last week's 157-run win at The Oval, which gave his side a 2-1 lead in the five-Test series, while bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and physio Nitin Patel isolated as a precautionary measure.

The overall number of positive cases climbed this week after another backroom staff member, reported to be a junior physio, also contracted the respiratory disease.

The entire India squad returned negative PCR Tests on Thursday, though any hopes of rescheduling the match appear unlikely given the start of the Indian Premier League on September 19, four days after the England series was due to finish.

The fifth Test between England and India at Old Trafford has been called off due to concerns over rising number of coronavirus cases in the tourists' camp.

The start of the final match in the series had been in doubt after India cancelled a practice session on Thursday as a result of a member of their support staff testing positive for COVID-19.

England had been hopeful of the contest, which was due to begin at 11:00BST on Friday, going ahead as planned.

But after talks between the England and Wales Cricket (ECB) board and their Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) counterparts, the match has been cancelled.

"Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth LV= Insurance Test between England and India men due to start today at Emirates Old Trafford, will be cancelled," an ECB statement read.

"Due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases inside the camp, India are regrettably unable to field a team.

"We send our sincere apologies to fans and partners for this news, which we know will cause immense disappointment and inconvenience to many."

India head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive for coronavirus ahead of last week's 157-run win at The Oval, which gave his side a 2-1 lead in the five-Test series, while bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and physio Nitin Patel isolated as a precautionary measure.

The overall number of positive cases climbed this week after another backroom staff member, reported to be a junior physio, also contracted the respiratory disease.

The entire India squad returned negative PCR Tests on Thursday, though it has been reported that some players raised concerns around leaving the United Kingdom ahead of the start of the Indian Premier League on September 19, four days after the England series was due to finish.

The fifth Test between England and India at Old Trafford has been called off due to concerns over rising number of coronavirus cases in the tourists' camp.

The start of the final match in the series had been in doubt after India cancelled a practice session on Thursday as a result of a member of their support staff testing positive for COVID-19.

Jos Buttler said England have their "fingers crossed" that the fifth Test against India will go ahead at Old Trafford after the tourists were hit by a new COVID-19 case.

A member of India's support staff, reported by the Times of India to be a junior physio, has tested positive for coronavirus, and the team did not appear for a net session or hold a news conference on Thursday.

On the eve of the match, the last in a series in which India hold a 2-1 lead, it remained to be seen whether there could be an issue with it going ahead as scheduled.

India do not want to concede the match, yet this is the latest case in their camp, after head coach Ravi Shastri and two members of his staff also tested positive and were sidelined during the fourth Test at The Oval.

England wicketkeeper-batsman Buttler said: "At present we're fully expecting the game to go ahead. We're preparing to play tomorrow and fingers crossed the game will go ahead.

"Things are all fine in our camp and we trained well this morning so, hopefully, we're looking forward to the game tomorrow."

The Oval defeat for England came as India carved through the hosts' batting line-up on the final day, reducing them from 100-0 to 210 all out, earning a 157-run success.

"It was a fantastic Test match for the neutrals," said Buttler, who missed the game as his wife gave birth. "The team played some brilliant cricket for large parts of that game but couldn't quite get it done.

"As a group we're determined to win this Test match and level this series. Spirits are high and so it's one last big push this summer for a must-win game for us."

England have a proud Old Trafford record against India to defend, having never lost in the nine matches the teams have contested at the ground. England have four wins and five draws in their head-to-head, winning by an innings and 54 runs when the teams last played in Manchester, in August 2014.

An Old Trafford draw in 1990 featured the first Test century of Sachin Tendulkar's stellar career, the then 17-year-old making 119 not out in the fourth innings of the contest.

 

BUTTLER SEES ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

Buttler made a Test ton against India at Trent Bridge three years ago, and a return to that level of form would be welcome after a run of low scores, with 25 his highest across five Test innings in this series.

"I haven't played my best by a long stretch," Buttler said. "I think I've felt like that the whole season. It's on yourself as a player to put the work in, to train hard and make some runs.

"I've been working hard on that and that's the challenge of the game: can you do the work to give yourself the best chance to perform in the middle?"

For the Lancashire player, home advantage may help in the coming days.

ANDERSON COULD TAKE CENTRE STAGE

Another player relishing the chance to shine at his county ground will be James Anderson, England's evergreen paceman.

The 39-year-old has 15 wickets at an average of 24.66 so far in this series, and Buttler is confident Anderson and fellow quick Ollie Robinson will be raring to go after a heavy Oval workload.

"They've bowled a lot of overs and bowled fantastically well," said Buttler. "They've rightfully taken rest in the few days since the last game.

"But they seem to be pulling up well. Jimmy is a fantastically fit guy who looks after himself and Ollie's exactly the same. Fingers crossed they'll both be in good shape and available for selection."

Robinson has a series-high 21 wickets at 21.33, and his contribution could be important as England target a fourth straight win in Tests at Old Trafford. 

The last and only time they enjoyed a longer winning run at the venue was a four-match span from July 2006 to June 2010. England have not lost consecutive home Tests against India since June 1986, which was the first time that had occurred.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– India last won a Test series against England, in England, in 2007. To deny them, England will be chasing a win that would be their 50th in men's Tests against India. They have passed that landmark against three other Test teams previously: 110 wins against Australia, 64 against South Africa and 51 against West Indies.

– England have not lost back-to-back men's home Tests since July 2008, when South Africa were the opposition.

– India captain Virat Kohli is 40 away from becoming the fifth player to score 2,000 runs in men's Tests between England and India (Tendulkar – 2,535, Sunil Gavaskar – 2,483, Alastair Cook – 2,431 and Joe Root – 2,353); however, Kohli's Test batting average (43.6) against England is his second lowest against any country (43.3 v West Indies).

– England skipper Root (1,455 in 2021) is 27 away from recording the most runs in men's Tests by an England player in a calendar year (Michael Vaughan – 1,481 in 2002).

Joe Root and England will weigh up over the next couple of days whether to risk James Anderson and Ollie Robinson for the must-win final Test with India.

England head into the fifth Test at Old Trafford 2-1 down in the series after India produced another stirring comeback to prevail by 157 runs at The Oval.

It puts Root in the unenviable position of having to measure the risk against the potential reward of salvaging the series, with Anderson and Robinson having taken on the majority of the workload in the attack.

The absence of all-rounder Ben Stokes, who is taking time away from the game to focus on his mental health, and the injured Jofra Archer, as well as fitness issues for Mark Wood, has led to Anderson (163.3) and Robinson (166.2) bowling 329.5 overs between them.

Robinson is the leading wicket-taker in the series with 21 while Anderson has been similarly impressive, claiming 15 dismissals, but the latter is 39 and management of his playing time is key with The Ashes coming in Australia in December.

Root, who confirmed that Jos Buttler would return as his vice-captain and keep wicket after missing the fourth Test for the birth of his second child, and the selectors have yet to come to a decision on the make-up of the attack.

"That's something that we will weigh up over the next couple of days, these two days are really important for recovery, making sure they're in a position to play Test cricket," he told a media conference. 

"You have to trust the medical advice that's been given and also speak to the players as well, they know their own bodies better than anyone else.

"You never want to go into a Test match putting someone under risk of injury, you want to make sure you do the best thing for a player but you also you don't want to go into a Test match, have someone go down injured and you've one less bowler at your disposal. 

"There are a number of things to factor in, we'll make sure we feel very confident that everyone is fit to take the field and put in a Test-worthy performance when it comes round to selecting a team for this game."

While Robinson and Anderson have excelled with the ball, Root has been the sole standout with the bat for England, racking up 564 runs including three hundreds in a sparkling series for the world's number one Test batsman.

Though openers Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed have each scored a pair of half-centuries, no other player in the side has a ton this series, with Root believing clarity of thought is key to his team-mates changing that fact.

"It's not something that I've always got right, there's been long periods of my career where I was very guilty of getting in and getting out and it might happen again in the future, I really hope it doesn't," Root added. 

"What I have managed to do well so far this year is I know how I want to score my runs, I know where my big strengths are, I just back them completely. Trusted my decision-making under pressure, not doubted it, and when I have got in I've felt like I've had that mindset of 'it's going to take something very special to get me out'.

"Hopefully that can be infectious and feed through the rest of the batting group. It just takes that one person to go on and do it, it can very quickly spread like wildfire and feed into the rest of the group. Hopefully that can materialise this week."

Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler has returned to England's squad for the fifth and final Test against India, which starts at Old Trafford on Friday.

Buttler missed the fourth Test, a 157-run loss to India at The Oval, to be present at the birth of his second child.

Jonny Bairstow took over wicketkeeping duties in Buttler's absence as England went 2-1 down in the five-match series.

Sam Billings, who was included in the squad for the fourth Test squad as cover for Bairstow, has now returned to Kent.

Left-arm spinner Jack Leach is also named in the 16-man party for the match.

He was in England's squad for the first two Tests against India but not selected, and has not featured in a Test match since March.

Leach would give England captain Joe Root another spin option alongside Moeen Ali.

Fast bowler Mark Wood, who has returned from a shoulder injury, and left-arm seamer Sam Curran, dropped for the fourth Test, are both available.

England coach Chris Silverwood acknowledged that, with James Anderson and Ollie Robinson having toiled at The Oval, he may need to freshen up a fatigued attack.

"We have got some aching bodies, I'm not going to deny that," Silverwood said.

"So we obviously have to keep an eye on that. He [Wood] could come back and if he does, he will obviously add that pace for us.

"If the pitch is abrasive as it usually is at Old Trafford there should be reverse swing."

Lancashire seamer Anderson, England's record wicket-taker, would be loathe to miss out on playing at his home ground.

Silverwood acknowledged that with a short turnaround between Tests he will need to have a discussion with the 39-year-old over his fitness. 

"James knows his own body. He will certainly give me an honest opinion of where he is at, and it's certainly something I will listen to," Silverwood explained.

"It'll be a discussion that he and I will have together. He will have input into that, without a shadow of a doubt.

"I know what it's like, he won't want to miss any cricket. We have to make sure we look after him.

"Although there is a gap between the final Test and what's in front of him, he's certainly someone I want to make sure is looked after."

England squad for the fifth Test against India at Old Trafford:  Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Joe Root demanded England be more ruthless and promised improvements after a 157-run defeat on Monday handed India a 2-1 series lead with one Test to go. 

The tourists' five-man attack shone on day five to collect their first win at The Oval since 1971, Jasprit Bumrah impressing as he became the quickest India paceman to 100 wickets in the longest format. 

After Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed shared England's first 100-run opening stand in the fourth innings since October 2016, Virat Kohli's bowlers ran riot as the hosts collapsed, losing six wickets for 47 runs. 

Bumrah and Shardul Thakur, whose first-innings half-century was the fastest in Test cricket in England, provided the impetus for India and Root pointed to the former as an example. 

"You look at this game, it's been frustrating today to lose 10 wickets," Root said post-match. 

"But I think, when you look where the game was lost, we should have got a bigger lead first time around with the bat. It would have been nice to have another 100 runs and then we're looking at a completely different game. 

"We have to be a bit more ruthless, with the first-innings runs costing us there. And with our catching, we did put down a few chances. Some were extremely difficult but when you give chances and half-chances to world-class players, they take them. 

"You look at that spell from Bumrah, he recognised the key moment in the game and turned it on its head. It's something we have to look at doing ourselves." 

Indeed, Bumrah has taken the second-most wickets in the series (18) behind Ollie Robinson (21), with England the 27-year-old's favourite opponents, striking 36 times at an average of 24.08. 

And it was his afternoon spell, coupled with Thakur's dismissal of Root, that got the ball rolling for Kohli's men. 

"I think it's something we have to get better at and keep looking to improve, recognising those key moments in games and forcing things a little bit more," Root continued. 

"We did it very well at Headingley but here we did not manage that and it's something we have to be more consistent with, looking at certain situations and getting us into that advantageous position. 

"It's hard to take but you have to look at how he responded from Lords to Headingley and we will look to do exactly the same at Old Trafford. We're more than capable of turning things around very quickly."

A mid-afternoon collapse proved England's downfall as Joe Root's team fell to a 157-run defeat against India at The Oval on day five, handing the tourists a 2-1 series lead with one Test to go.

The hosts were facing a record chase of 368, with 291 remaining by the close of play on day four, but succumbed to their first defeat at The Oval against India since 1971 after a collapse of six wickets for 47 runs left them teetering.

Umesh Yadav sealed the win but Shardul Thakur's two wickets proved key – the first of Rory Burns and second of the in-form Joe Root – while Ravindra Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah both impressed for their two wickets.

After adding 77 without loss on Sunday, Burns brought up the 100-opening stand with Haseeb Hameed and his own half-century, the first time England's openers have reached the landmark in the fourth innings since October 2016.

However, Thakur removed Burns with the next ball caught behind and, after surviving an lbw scare from Jadeja on five, Dawid Malan was run out by substitute Mayank Agarwal.

Hameed – dropped on 55 by Mohammed Siraj – survived until lunch, only to be bowled by Jadeja for 63 before Bumrah became the quickest Indian pacer to 100 Test wickets by dismissing Ollie Pope.

Bumrah's crushing inswinging yorker accounted for Jonny Bairstow and after Jadeja had Moeen Ali caught at short leg for a duck, England were reeling at 147-6.

Root (36) offered resistance but England's captain chopped on to Thakur, with Woakes (18) following.

Craig Overton (10) was dropped on three by Ajinkya Rahane and overturned an lbw decision, but his charmed life ended when Yadav broke through his defences.

Ollie Robinson and James Anderson faced an impossible task, with the latter caught behind off Yadav to wrap up the game.

Brilliant Bumrah

Kapil Dev (25 matches) was the previous fastest Indian quick to reach 100 wickets but Bumrah achieved the feat in his 24th outing.

England are the 27-year-old's favourite Test opponents, with Bumrah taking 36 wickets at an average of 24.08, while striking 18 times in this series – only Robinson (21) has produced more wickets.

England no longer invincible at The Oval

The hosts had lost only one of their last 13 Tests against India at The Oval before Monday (W5, D7), their last loss coming in August 1971 by four wickets.

England had also won three of the last such fixtures, though this defeat has left them facing three consecutive Test series losses if they cannot triumph in the final meeting in Manchester.

England set up a tantalising fifth day of the fourth Test by making immediate inroads after India set them a record run chase at The Oval.

Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed chipped away at the target of 368, reaching 31 and 43 respectively, as England advanced to 77-0 at stumps.

Armed with a 99-run first-innings lead, England's hopes of establishing a lead in this series were dealt a huge blow after India totted up 466 batting second time around.

However, there remains the possibility of a famous home victory. Should England pull this off, they will take a 2-1 lead heading to the final Test at Old Trafford, but they would have to beat the highest total ever posted by a team winning against India from a fourth-innings chase.

That is currently the 342-8 achieved by Australia in 1977 at Perth. Tony Mann hit a century for Australia in that win and England need at least one batsman to step up and make a big score to anchor this innings.

There were positive signs as openers Burns and Hameed put on a half-century partnership, with Haseeb surviving a late lbw appeal as India used up a review, but England are still 291 short.

Earlier on day four, Rishabh Pant made 50, ending a run of three single-figure scores. Shardul Thakur plundered his second half-century of this match, adding 60 to his first-innings 57, prospering with the bat in the fourth Test match of his career and second of this tour.

Pant rode his luck, with England blowing a glorious chance to run him out when he was on 37. Pant set off for a run before scampering back, and Moeen Ali had the first chance to throw down the stumps. He missed, and Hameed, backing up, fumbled the ball when Pant was still well short of his ground.

Home captain Joe Root broke up a partnership of 100 when he had Thakur caught by Craig Overton at slip, and Moeen struck moments later to remove Pant when he took a sharp return chance off his own bowling as the India batsman looked to go over the top.

India were eight down, but their lead was 315, and the runs kept coming, Umesh Yadav flogging Moeen for a brazen six over cow corner, before hoiking a delivery Woakes over the ropes too. His 25 from 23 balls, plus 24 from Jasprit Bumrah, left England staring at their daunting target.

BURNS SEES OFF DUCK DANGER

It has been a year of mixed fortunes at Test level for Burns, who has five ducks in 2021 on England duty. When he has got off the mark, however, it has often been a different story, with Burns, including this ongoing knock, making 460 at an average for those innings of 51.11.

HAMEED CAN COME OF AGE

There are Ashes places at stake, and the high-tension moments that await England on Monday can be considered comparable to those that may await in Australia. One-time boy wonder Hameed can book his place on the plane, surely, if he converts this strong start into something special. His Test best of 82 came almost five years ago, and to top that here would give England a terrific platform.

India have announced head coach Ravi Shastri is isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 during the fourth Test against England.  

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) issued a statement ahead of play on the fourth day of the game confirming Shastri will remain in the team hotel after undergoing further tests following the initial lateral flow result.  

Bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and physio Nitin Patel are also isolating as a precautionary measure, having been identified as close contacts.  

"They have undergone RT-PCR testing and shall remain in the team hotel and not travel with team India until confirmation from the medical team," a BCCI statement read.  

"The remaining members of the team India contingent underwent two lateral flow tests – one last night and another this morning. The members upon returning negative COVID reports were allowed to proceed for day four of the ongoing fourth Test at The Oval." 

India resumed on Sunday on 270-3 in their second innings, Rohit Sharma’s first Test century overseas helping them establish a 171-run lead over their hosts. 

The series is level at 1-1 after England won by an innings at Headingley last time out. The fifth and final Test begins at Old Trafford in Manchester on Friday. 

Chris Woakes made an instant impact on his return as England bowled India out for 191, only for Joe Root to fall late on as the visitors fought back on a frantic day one of the fourth Test. 

England levelled the five-match series at 1-1 with a resounding innings victory at Headingley last weekend after bowling their opponents out for only 78 on the first day. 

India struggled with the bat again after being put in by Root at The Oval on Thursday, captain Virat Kohli falling for 50 as they collapsed to 127-7. 

The recalled Shardul Thakur (57) blasted the fastest Test half-century ever made in England, reaching the landmark off just 31 balls, before India were all out in the 62nd over after the final three wickets fell for one run. 

Jasprit Bumrah (2-15) dismissed Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed to reduce England to 6-2 in a brilliant opening spell and Umesh Yadav struck a huge blow by bowling the in-form Root (21). 

England reached 53-3 at stumps - trailing by 138 - with Dawid Malan unbeaten on 26 and nightwatchman Craig Overton (one not out) ensuring no further damage was done. 

Woakes took 4-55 in his first Test for just over a year, including seeing the back of Rohit Sharma with a peach of a delivery in his first over. 

He also dismissed Ravindra Jadeja, promoted to number five in the order, and was gifted a further wicket when Rishabh Pant was caught at mid-off trying to hit over the top. Thakur was his final victim, though not before playing a potentially crucial cameo. 

Kohli showed his class with some glorious drives before he edged a great delivery from Ollie Robinson (3-38) through to Jonny Bairstow, who took four catches on his return to wicketkeeping duties with Jos Buttler absent.

James Anderson and Overton also took a wicket apiece in another relentless performance from the England attack. 

Bumrah was run out by Burns without facing a ball in a chaotic end to the India innings, but Kohli's men hit back impressively in the final session.

 

WOAKES MAKES UP FOR LOST TIME 

Woakes had not played for his country in the longest format since last August and he made up for lost time having recovered from a heel injury. 

Pant's latest rush of blood to the head gifted Woakes a third wicket and although he took some treatment from Thakur, the seamer had the last laugh when he ended his entertaining knock thanks to a well-judged review. 

THAKUR TAKES HIS CHANCE 

Thakur - recalled along with Umesh as Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma missed out - was another to make his mark, producing a swashbuckling knock after striding to the crease with his team in big trouble. 

He was dismissed without scoring in the first match at Test Bridge but went on the attack to give India some hope as he dominated a much-needed eighth-wicket stand of 63 in just eight overs, hitting three sixes and seven fours in a dramatic hour at the crease, during which he faced only 36 balls. 

Page 1 of 11
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.