Dravid throws down gauntlet: Can you beat us on our own pitches?

England have been better side, admits Indian opener, but winning away will be their 'biggest challenge'

The Oval

England have solved the Rahul Dravid problem for the final time in this series. But the man who has stood in their way for hour upon hour has already come up with a new challenge for the world's No 1 team: try winning in India.



"We have been found wanting against a better team," admitted Dravid after scoring his third brilliant century of the summer before falling cheaply second time around. "It's not a nice feeling but when you reflect, England have had a great couple of years.

"In their conditions they have been superior and deserve to be No 1. When they come to India [towards the end of next year] that Indian team will be very keen to correct it.

"That will be their biggest challenge – to win in India. They have the players, but it still needs to be done. That has not been easy for any team so it will be interesting."

Dravid does not do sour grapes. His praise for Andrew Strauss's team was genuine, and few people would disagree with his assessment about the difficulty of winning a Test series in India – something England have not managed since the 1984-85 tour. So to be undisputed Test champions you have to win in India? "That would be the view from India," said a smiling Graeme Swann. "I would say to be No 1 you have to beat England in England.

"But I said a few days ago that the litmus test for this team could be winning in the subcontinent. We have to play Pakistan and Sri Lanka this winter so that could be a good test of where we are. But, sure, you would think it is going to be a more even contest in India when our seamers are not as effective because with this bowling attack, in the conditions we've had this summer, I think we are undoubtedly the best team in the world."

England's seamers and swingers – Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan – did their bit again yesterday. But so did off-spinner Swann when he finally found himself on a pitch giving some assistance.

Having taken three wickets in the first innings, Swann struck twice more when India followed on – with Dravid among his victims second time around. And he could have added Sachin Tendulkar to that collection if only someone had appealed for a stumping just before close of play.

"I wasn't aware of that until I left the field," said Swann before slipping into his wise-cracking routine. "But I'm at the bowler's end, I can't see. There are only about 12 pairs of eyes around the stumps, but it's not exactly the brains trust fielding around there. Mind, I'm surprised [wicketkeeper] Matty Prior didn't appeal because he appeals for everything."

Dravid had fallen to a catch, admitting last night that he did "feather" the ball, but Swann's dismissal of Virender Sehwag was more spectccular. The opener was bowled middle stump, between bat and pad.

"Bowling people through the gate only happens three or four times a year, if you are lucky, so it is always one to savour – especially if it is a player of his standing," said the spinner.

Swann stressed that while England may have won the series by a handsome margin and already achieved their objective of reaching No 1, victory today is still a burning ambition. Whatever the result, though, captain Strauss will receive the Test Champions' Mace from ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat at the end of play.

How the fourth Test's fourth day unfolded

11.02: Start 103 for 5

MS Dhoni and Rahul Dravid are the two Indian batsmen in overnight, and are the two most important if India are to save the game. Stuart Broad bowls the first over.

11.46: Wicket 137 for 6 MS Dhoni edges a Jimmy Anderson outswinger to Matt Prior, ending a fairly spirited morning of resistance from the Indian captain and wicketkeeper.

12.20: Century 172 for 6 Rahul Dravid cuts the ball for two runs, reaching his 35th Test century, and his third in this series. A very impressive effort from India's best performer.

13.02: Lunch 218 for 6 Amit Mishra hits the final ball of the morning session over long-on for six off Graeme Swann. His support for Dravid has been brisk and enterprising.

13.52: Wicket 224 for 7 Mishra goes for 43, after a stunning catch by Ian Bell. Mishra pulled a Tim Bresnan lifter and Bell, close on the leg side, extended his right arm and snatched it.

15.02: Wicket 264 for 8 Stuart Broad makes the breakthrough, ending Gambhir's 62-ball innings of 10. Gambhir struggles with a short ball, fending to to Kevin Pietersen in the gully.

15.30: Wicket 300 for 9 India reach 300 for the first time this series, but two balls later RP Singh is caught by Jimmy Anderson in the slips off Tim Bresnan, after an exciting knock of 25.

15.32: Wicket 300 all out

Sreesanth drives his second ball to Eoin Morgan at short cover, for Bresnan's third wicket. England, 291 runs ahead, decide to enforce the follow-on.

16.12: Tea 25 for 0

Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid – who has been batting all day – reach tea unscathed. Sehwag inside-edged his first ball to the fine-leg boundary.

17.03: Wicket 49 for 1

Finally, England have dismissed Dravid. They need a review to do it, though, after Alastair Cook takes a bat-pad catch at short leg from Graeme Swann.

17.22: Wicket 64 for 2

Swann strikes again. A perfect off-break seduces Virender Sehwag into driving, but it turns back in through the gate to bowl him. Tendulkar comes in.

18.11: Wicket 118 for 3

VVS Laxman (left) is bowled by Anderson for 24, as an unstoppable delivery ruins his off-stump. Amit Mishra joins Tendulkar, who is looking good, at the crease.

18.33: Stumps 129 for 3

Despite a few scares, Tendulkar and Mishra reach the close of play intact, with India 162 runs behind. 'The Little Master' is on 35, setting today up perfectly.

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