England declared their first innings closed at 591 for six on the third day of the fourth and final test against India at the Oval on Saturday after rain washed out the afternoon session.
Thirty three overs were scheduled for the final session as sunlight bathed the Oval with England running out of a time to enforce a series whitewash. Two sessions were lost to rain on Thursday’s opening day.
During a full morning session, Ian Bell completed his first test double century and overtook team mate Alastair Cook at the top of the year’s test runs’ table.
Bell, who resumed on 181, brought up his 200 with his 20th boundary, a deft glance to leg off Shanthakumaran Sreesanth. His previous best was 199 against South Africa at Lord’s three years ago.
He was finally lbw to Suresh Raina after more than eight hours at the crease with 23 fours and successive sixes off leg-spinner Amit Mishra. Bell has now compiled 950 runs this year with five centuries at an average of 118.75.
Ravi Bopara helped Bell add 61 for the sixth wicket and at the declaration he was unbeaten on 44.
Bopara, who has replaced the injured Jonathan Trott for the final two tests of the English summer, failed in his only innings at Edgbaston where England went 3-0 up in the series and took over from India as the world’s top ranked side.
Nightwatchman James Anderson was the first batsman to depart on Saturday, caught for 13 at second slip by Vangipurappu Laxman off Sreesanth.
Sreesanth followed up in his next over with the wicket of Eoin Morgan for one on the day he was named as the England captain for a one-day match against his native Ireland. Morgan was caught behind by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Bopara scampered two runs off his first delivery, an inside edge which trickled into the leg side, then neatly leg-glanced his 13th delivery to the boundary.
Bell was again in exquisite touch, playing a glorious on-drive for four before he departed after missing a sweep against Raina’s occasional off-spin.
Rahul Dravid was again pressed into the opening batsman’s role after Gautam Gambhir sustained a mild concussion when his head hit the ground in an unsuccessful attempt to catch Kevin Pietersen on Friday. An Indian team statement said he had undergone a medical examination on Saturday after complaining that he still felt unwell. — Reuters