1971, 1986, 2007

During Test matches I try to avoid commenting until a couple of days have gone. This time yesterday evening there still looked to be a possibility that England could work their way back into the game - bowl India out for 450, say, and then score 600 to put them under pressure. Now, though, after a further day of positive accumulation right down the order on the type of Oval shirtfront that anyone who's watched a lot of Test cricket in England has seen many times before, England are deservedly out of the game and the series with only pride to play for.

Talking of pride, all India can be proud of the consistency and fluency of their batsmen. True, the match is being played on the sort of pitch on which it would have been hard not to make 600, but with the road-crash umpiring of Ian Howell about, as well as the awareness of their own weaknesses when leading in past series, it wouldn't have been a huge surprise to see them make a mess of things. More tons would have been nice, but it was pleasantly surprising to see Kumble get the one that finally came. I can't say I ever thought he had it in him - to me he always looked like a determined but limited number nine who might be capable of the odd fifty but little more. I'm pleased to have been wrong.

For England, a fatal lost toss, two days of persistence from a weakened attack and some very ropey keeping from Matt Prior. From here on, with nothing but honour and a 1-0 defeat to play for, it's going to be difficult.

They're easily good enough to get close to India's total, even with Strauss already gone. One's suspicion, though, is that with the pitch starting to misbehave and Kumble primed to bowl until the cows come home, they won't.

Another long day in the sun begins tomorrow at 11.

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