LONDON (AP) — England was daring to dream of a record-breaking run chase after India’s defiant lower order left the hosts hunting 368 to win the fourth test with one day left.
Joe Root’s side needs its biggest-ever fourth innings success to claim victory on Day 5 at the Oval. After watching the tourists pile up 466 all out in its second innings on an increasingly docile pitch on Sunday, that no longer looks as outlandish as it should.
Openers Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed gave England the perfect base to build from, sharing a chanceless stand of 77 before stumps to leave another 291 to get with all 10 wickets in hand.
All results remain possible but by far the most remarkable would be an England side somehow finding a way to score six more than than their previous record pursuit — Ben Stokes’ ‘Miracle of Headingley’ in the 2019 Ashes.
England would have been looking at a much nicer total to chase were it not for a defiant seventh-wicket stand of 100 between Rishabh Pant (50) and Shardul Thakur (60), followed by further damage from the tail.
By the time England finally wrapped things up, it had spent more than 148 overs and 11 hours laboring in the field with their attack all but spent.
Against that backdrop, the ability of Burns (31 not out) and Hameed (43 not out) to knuckle down for another 32 overs was all the more noteworthy.
Earlier, England's hopes of victory in the test had switched to thoughts of holding out for a draw after India reached 445-8 at tea for an imposing second-innings lead of 346.
India's preparations for the day's play were disrupted when it emerged that India head coach Ravi Shastri was isolating along with three other members of their backroom team after testing positive for COVID-19.
Shastri returned a positive lateral flow test on Saturday evening and has not travelled to the ground as he awaited the results of a PCR test, alongside bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach Ramakrishnan Sridhar and physiotherapist Nitin Patel.
The remainder of the squad were cleared to report for duty after two separate lateral flow tests, one on Saturday night and one on Sunday morning.
A statement from the Board of Control for Cricket in India said all four "shall remain in the team hotel and not travel” until the results of the PCR test are known.
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