England have the belief that they can pull off one of the best run chases in Test cricket history after setting up a thrilling final day in the Fourth Test against India trailing by 291 runs.
The hosts finished the fourth day at 77-0, after India were eventually bowled out for 466, opening up a target of 368.
Only nine times in history have more runs been successfully chased to win any Test match but England are optimistic after a bright start on a good batting wicket at The Oval.
Rory Burns (31no from 109) and Haseeb Hameed (43no from 85) will resume at the crease for England with 10 wickets in hand, after India added 196 runs to their overnight score, suggesting it’s a batsman friendly track.
“We felt like it was a good enough wicket to be able to chase any score,” said England fast Chris Woakes after he finished with 3-83. “To go all the way and chase down that score would be an incredible effort. It would be a great, great chase.
“But our openers have done a great job and put us in a good position to start on the final day. To get another 291 on a day-five pitch always sounds like a tough ask but we’ve got to keep reminding ourselves that this pitch is still good for batting and we can do it if we bat well all the way down.
“We just have to tick it off slowly. We won’t get too far ahead of ourselves I’m absolutely buzzing to be here and hopefully we have an opportunity to win tomorrow.”
England may have had a much smaller target to chase if not for India’s middle and lower order adding plenty of runs led by Rishabh Pant who hit 50 from 106 balls.
Shardul Thakur posted 60 from 72 balls, including seven fours and one six, with the pair combining for a gritty 100-run seventh-wicket stand after Virat Kohli fell for 44.
Tail-enders Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah also hit quickfire scores of 25 and 24 respectively to extend India’s lead.
England managed 291 in the first innings with three of their top five failing to reach double figures, while Ollie Pope made 81 with good support from Woakes who added 50 batting at nine.
All three results are in play with the series locked 1-1 with one Test to play.