Taking centre stage at Kennington
England and India square off in the third Test at The Oval with a lot at stake for both teams. England haven't been beaten in a home series since 2001, while India haven't won a series here since 1986. The two teams have played nine Tests at The Oval over the years and Cricinfo looks back at the memorable individual performances.
Michael Vaughan, 195 in 2002
The series was in the balance after England had taken a 1-0 lead at Lord's only for India to draw level with an innings victory at Headingley. Vaughan had already feasted on the Indian attack, scoring 100 at Lord's and 197 at Trent Bridge, and he continued his form at The Oval. Much like the current tour, Vaughan dominated Anil Kumble, scoring 68 off 78 balls against the legspinner, using his feet and hitting him against the spin through midwicket. Vaughan reached 100 off 195 balls and scored his last 82 runs off only 71 to take England to 336 for 2 at stumps on the first day. Vaughan was dismissed for the second time in the 190s in three Tests; the rest of England's batsmen struggled in comparison to his effortless elegance.
Rahul Dravid, 217 in 2002
England had snuffed out India's hopes of a series victory by posting 515 in the first innings and seized the advantage by dismissing Virender Sehwag cheaply. In walked Dravid on the back of two consecutive hundreds and determined to complete the hat-trick. He preferred to accumulate, not dominate, and ground his way to becoming the second Indian - after Sunil Gavaskar in 1970-71 - to score centuries in three consecutive innings. Dravid was hardly troubled by England's wayward attack and only a poor call from Ajay Ratra ended his innings on 217, but not before he had ensured that India would not lose the game. Dravid had batted for nearly ten and a half hours - VVS Laxman's 192-minute innings was next best - and had spent nearly 30 hours in the middle through the entire series.
Kapil Dev, 110 in 1990
India had been bruised and battered by Graham Gooch at Lord's and they needed a win at The Oval to level the series. Ravi Shastri batted with determination, after Mohammad Azharuddin won the toss, to post 187, his highest Test score at the time. However it was Kapil's century at No. 8 that put England under immense pressure by setting them a target of 407 to avoid the follow-on. Kapil shelved the aerial shots and exploited the gaps in the outfield and brought up his hundred off only 130 balls - it was still the slowest of his seven Test hundreds at the time. He added 110 with Shastri and another 74 with Kiran More for the eighth wicket and helped India pile up 606 for 9.
David Gower, 157 in 1990
The challenge facing England was formidable. They were made to follow on and trailed India by 266 when they began their second innings. The openers wiped 176 off the deficit but when Graham Gooch was dismissed, England still trailed by 90 runs. Gower began his vigil on the fourth evening but, though he was batting for a place on that winter's Ashes tour, did not put away his flamboyant strokes. He batted through the whole of the fifth day and strung together sizeable partnerships with Michael Atherton, John Morris and Allan Lamb. His six-hour-long 157, which included 21 graceful boundaries, took England into the lead and made sure that the series was won.
Ian Botham, 208 in 1982
After four days of run-making, the Test was destined to be drawn before the fifth day began. There were notable batting performances from Allan Lamb and Kapil but none more spectacular than that of Botham, who scored the third quickest double-century by an Englishman in terms of time, and possibly the fastest in terms of balls faced. Botham and Lamb flayed the Indian attack during a fourth-wicket partnership that added 144 in 28 overs by the end of day one. During the course of his innings, Botham struck another vital blow when his fierce drive towards silly point broke a bone in Sunil Gavaskar's left shin. Botham carried on the next day to reach 208, his highest Test score, and England went on to make 594 in the first innings.
Sunil Gavaskar, 221 in 1979
A gripping Test went down to the final over. India needed 15 to win, England needed two wickets. Such a finish had not seemed possible when England set India a target of 438, but Gavaskar orchestrated a fairytale run-chase by scoring 221. India finally finished on 429 for 8, agonisingly close to victory. India began the fifth day on 76 for 0 and Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan extended the partnership to 213, the highest opening stand for India in England. They needed approximately a run a minute but they made slow progress during the first few hours. Gavaskar's innings lasted a little over eight hours, the majority of his 21 boundaries coming through midwicket and cover, but with eight overs left in the day, and India inching towards victory, Gavaskar holed out to mid-on off Botham. India still had a chance but Botham struck crucial blows to deny them an improbable victory.
Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, 6 for 38 in 1971
The series was level at 0-0 heading into the final Test at The Oval and England had grabbed the advantage by claiming a 71-run lead in the first innings. India's captain Ajit Wadekar set enterprising fields for his spinners during England's second innings; he could not have hoped for a better response from Chandrasekhar. The England collapse began with Chandrasekhar deflecting Brian Luckhurst's straight drive onto the stumps to run out John Jameson. The rest of the batting wilted against Chandrasekhar's discipline and fastish legspin. He rattled the top order and polished off the tail to skittle England for 101, their lowest total against India. India were left with only 173 to chase, which they did with four wickets to spare. Chandrasekhar's spell of 6 for 38 had spun India to their first ever Test and series win in England.
Alec Bedser and Fred Trueman's five-fors in 1952
Having won the previous three Tests against India, England started the fourth in confident fashion. They made the most of the excellent weather and scored 326 for 6 by lunch on the second day. A thunderstorm flooded the square during the interval and there was a massive delay during which Len Hutton declared, so as to give Trueman and Bedser the best of the wet conditions. When play finally restarted, England went for the kill. Bedser bowled with four short legs and two slips while Trueman had five slips and a short leg waiting for the edge. In 25 minutes India lost five wickets for six runs and they ended the day on 49 for 5. Rain washed out play on Saturday and when the game resumed on Monday, Trueman and Bedser dismissed the remaining batsmen before lunch and finished with 5 for 48 and 5 for 41 respectively. India had been dismissed for 98 and only the weather saved them from a 4-0 whitewash.
Vijay Merchant, 128 in 1946
It rained so relentlessly on the first day of the third Test that play could only begin late in the evening, giving the Indian openers very little time to make substantial progress. Merchant and Mushtaq Ali negotiated the difficult conditions and added 79 by stumps. The next morning Merchant cut and pulled his way to 128, the highest score by an Indian in England at the time. He hit 12 fours in a disciplined innings that spanned a little more than five hours. He and Vinoo Mankad had begun to force the pace when Merchant was dismissed in unusual fashion. He set off for a single but was sent back by Mankad. Denis Compton ran behind the bowler from mid-on and kicked the ball on to the stumps to run out Merchant with India on 272 for 7.
Shute Banerjee and Chandu Sarwate's partnership of 249 v Surrey in 1946
Not a Test, but history nevertheless. The Indians did not make a promising start to their 1946 tour, losing to Worcestershire by 16 runs and then playing out a rain-affected draw against Oxford. They were without Lala Amarnath and the Nawab of Pataudi for the match against Surrey, and the depleted batting line-up collapsed to 205 for 9. Banerjee and Sarwate were batting at Nos. 10 and 11 although their had opened occasionally for Bihar and Holkar. Both of them attacked from the start and Surrey's attempts to stem the run flow did not succeed: the pair added 193 in two hours Wicketkeeper Gerald Mobey was to rue fumbling when Sarwate stepped down the track and was beaten by Jack Parker. After the rest day Sarwate and Banerjee added another 56 runs and beat the record tenth-wicket partnership in England of 235, set in 1909 by Kent's Frank Woolley and Albert Fielder, before Banerjee was finally bowled by Parker. Sarawate scored 124 not out and Banerjee 127. It was the only time in first-class history that both Nos. 10 and 11 scored centuries in an innings.
Wally Hammond, 217 in 1936
Hammond's double-century in the first innings of the Oval Test succeeded in laying the platform for England's victory. He was lucky early in his innings and survived a chance at short square leg on 3, and another straightforward catch was dropped by Wazir Ali with Hammond on 96. Apart from these two blemishes, it was a delightful innings filled with drives and cuts. Hammond added 266 runs with Stan Worthington for the fourth wicket and went on to score 217 out of England's 471, hitting 30 fours in what proved to be a match-winning innings. India were dismissed for 222 and 312 in reply and Hammond was at the crease as England chased down their target of 63 with nine wickets in hand.
George Binoy is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo