England v India, 3rd Test, The Oval, 4th day August 12, 2007

The curious case of Dravid's crawl

Rahul Dravid's 96-ball 12 was among his slowest innings, and one of the slowest 12s ever scored in Test cricket

Michael Vaughan would have had no problems with Rahul Dravid's approach on the fourth day at The Oval © Getty Images

At the start of play on the fourth day, India were huge favourites to wrap up a 2-0 series win. They could still get there, but England have given themselves a much better chance of saving the Test - and keeping India from joining them at No.2 spot in the ICC rankings - after an excellent day with both ball and bat.

Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook did a superb job of seeing off 20 overs in the evening, but the day was set up by England's performance in the field, when they allowed India to score at only 3.10 runs per over. Much of that run-rate was due to a rather inexplicable innings from the captain of the team trying to force a win. Rahul Dravid had some justification in starting his innings slowly after India lost three early wickets, but then he got into a rut and forgot his attacking options. By the time he was put out of his misery by Paul Collingwood, Dravid had scored 12 from 96, including a 35-ball passage - from the 18th to the 52nd ball - when he didn't score a single run. Among innings in which he has faced at least 50 deliveries, this was his third-slowest. All have come against England, with the other two coming within a week of each other, during England's tour of India in 2001-02.

Dravid's slowest Test innings (at least 50 balls faced)
Runs Balls Scoring rate Against Venue & year
3 61 4.91 England Bangalore, 2001-02
7 60 11.66 England Ahmedabad, 2001-02
12 96 12.50 England The Oval, 2007
7 55 12.72 South Africa Kanpur, 1996-97
14 109 12.84 Australia Melbourne, 1999-2000

Dravid's strike rate of 12.50 doesn't rank anywhere near the slowest all-time innings, though. The table below lists the slowest innings - lasting at least 75 balls - by batsmen in the top seven. The name on top of the list isn't one you would normally associate with slow scoring - Abdul Razzaq made an unbeaten 4 off 76 balls against Australia at Melbourne in 2004-05. Not very far down the list is another name which you'd think doesn't belong here - Ian Botham, when he needed 88 balls to score 6 against Australia in 1978-79.

Slowest innings in Tests by batsman in the top 7 (at least 75 balls faced)
Batsman Runs/ Balls Scoring rate Against Venue & year
Abdul Razzaq 4*/ 76 5.26 Australia Melbourne, 2004-05
MAK Pataudi 5/ 84 5.95 England Mumbai, 1972-73
Dennis Amiss 5/ 78 6.41 Australia Edgbaston, 1975
Ian Botham 6/ 88 6.81 Australia Sydney, 1978-79
Geoff Miller 7/ 101 6.93 Australia Melbourne, 1978-79

Dravid's knock was one of the slowest 12s in Test cricket, though. Only three times has a 12 needed more deliveries: Sri Lanka's Dulip Liyanage scored one off 101 deliveries against India at Lucknow in 1994, while John Edrich and Mark Taylor both got theirs off 98 deliveries.

Even as Dravid was struggling to get the ball off the square, though, his batting partner played quite an exquisite knock. Sourav Ganguly stroked some superb boundaries on the way to a 68-ball 57; only four times has he scored a 50-plus score at a faster pace.

Ganguly's fastest 50-plus scores in Tests
Runs Balls Scoring rate Against Venue & year
101* 111 90.99 New Zealand Hamilton, 1998-99
66 75 88.00 South Africa Cape Town, 2006-07
53 62 85.48 New Zealand Ahmedabad, 1999-2000
64* 75 85.33 New Zealand Mohali, 1999-2000
57 68 83.82 England The Oval, 2007

England have put themselves in a position to save the Test, but they still have some way to go: only three teams have ever batted more than 110 overs in the fourth innings of a Test at The Oval. India hold the record - they batted for more than 150 overs in that famous Test in 1979. England's best is 105.1 overs, which wasn't enough to stop them going down by 158 runs against West Indies in 1973.

Most no. of overs batted in the fourth innings at The Oval
Team 4th inng score Overs Opposition & year Result
India 429 for 8 150.5 England, 1979 Draw
South Africa 423 for 7 141 England, 1947 Draw
New Zealand 270 all out 110.1 England, 1983 Lost by 189 runs
England 255 all out 105.1 West Indies, 1973 Lost by 158 runs
England 308 for 4 104.2 South Africa, 1965 Draw

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo