Despite hopes of something dramatic happening during the last few days to encourage thoughts of a result, the placid pitch at the SCA Stadium in Rajkot has vehemently continued to deny any assistance for the spinners.
With England already 163 runs ahead in their second innings and Alastair Cook’s cautious captaincy well documented, a rather tedious fifth day could be looming large over the weekend crowd.
However, Indian opener Murali Vijay has refused to succumb to the possibility of a tiresome draw whilst claiming that the hosts could even go for an audacious fourth innings chase should the opportunity presents itself.
During a press conference at the end of the penultimate day’s play, the 32-year old believed, “Definitely yes, because we got closer to their (first innings) target. We still have a chance, you never know. If we pick up three or four quick wickets in the morning session, maybe we can score around 200 runs in the last session and go for it. It will be an interesting game there (on the last day).”
He added, “Think it's a pretty good wicket but it's gone slower and there is lot of assistance for the spinners now. So, hopefully, we can put some pressure in the morning session and get a few wickets and you never know.”
Having batted on this surface for almost a day, Vijay would know a lot about its even bounce and sluggish pace. The stylish right-hander top-scored for India during their first innings which eventually ended after 162 overs at 488. Even though England’s lead was restricted to just 49, they managed to stretch it through a dogged opening partnership between Cook and Haseeb Hameed.
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With India requiring a miraculous bowling effort to give themselves an outside chance of going after the target in the last two sessions, all signs point to a defensive line during the first session to delay the visitors’ possible declaration long enough to get to a safer position. But, Vijay refuted those suggestions by noting, “As long we take wickets in the morning, that's more of a concern for us rather than we waiting for what England is going to do. So we will look to take wickets, that's our main aim.”
Standing in their way will be the defiant Cook as well as an eager Hameed. While the veteran might be seeking to enhance his reputation in the subcontinent, the 19-year old has shown enormous potential in his very first outing. Nicknamed ‘Baby Boycott’ for his avidity to bat for long periods of time, he drew high praise from his much more experienced opening counterpart.
On Hameed’s impressive debut, Vijay quipped, “He is a pretty good talent. We saw that he has a calm head. So, these are good signs for a cricketer and he has it. So hopefully, he has got a good future.”
In an era wherein players often resort to supposed verbal aggression, the Tamil Nadu cricketer’s considerate attitude rams home the primary purpose behind sport – to bridge gaps through mutual respect.