Rahul Dravid at his elegant best completed his third century of the series yesterday as India battled to avoid a whitewash on the fourth day of the fourth Test against England at The Oval.
Dravid, the only member of the celebrated India top order to live up to his reputation in a dreadful series for the visitors, reached his 35th Test century with a late cut for two off Tim Bresnan.
At lunch, India, who were in disarray overnight at 103 for five in reply to England’s 591 for six declared, had rallied to 218 for six, but they still need another 174 runs to go past the follow-on target.
Dravid was again pressed into service as an opener after Gautam Gambhir suffered mild concussion while attempting a catch on Friday and he responded with an innings of great character and skill.
After resuming on 57, Dravid negated the threat of Graeme Swann through adroit footwork and playing the ball as late as possible.
He could have been run out on 61 after a mix-up with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, but he survived to race through the 90s with three sweetly timed boundaries in one Swann over.
India captain Dhoni was the only batsman to depart during the morning session and his dismissal came as no surprise. Dhoni was beaten twice outside the off-stump by Stuart Broad and he edged another delivery which landed in front of Andrew Strauss at first slip. He also survived a leg before wicket appeal against Swann.
James Anderson replaced Broad at the Pavilion end after 35 minutes and Dhoni, propping forward, edged his 10th ball of the morning straight to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
Dravid then found an able lieutenant in Amit Mishra, who glanced a boundary and then used his feet to strike Swann for another four to bring up the 150. His third four, an edge through the slips off Bresnan, brought up the 50 partnership.