List of Indian test hundreds at the Oval
The 4th test of the current India v England series will be played at the Oval cricket ground from 2 September onwards. Oval is considered to be the best batting pitch in England and has seen many high scores as well as centuries from India. Players like Gavaskar, Merchant, Dravid, Shastri, Kapil Dev, KL Rahul and Pant have managed 100s on this venue. Again there are many like Sachin or Kohli who never got or are yet to get a ton.
Let us look at the list
Vijay Merchant 128 1946
Vijay Merchant was considered to be the first really technically sound opener to have come out from India. His 128 in the Oval test of 1946 was another example of that grit and determination. In this innings, he had an enterprising 94 run for the 1st wicket with Mushtaq Ali (59) as India made 331 in the first innings. The match ended in a tame draw as the weather played havoc
Sunil Gavaskar 221 1979
This was arguably the best innings played by an Indian batter at the Oval. India was set a target of 438 to win. Gavaskar started steadily but gradually raised his gears. England boasted a strong bowling attack with Willis, Botham, Hendrick and Edmonds. After reaching his 100, Gavaskar opened up and India went for the kill as strokes began to flow from Gavaskar’s bat. The drives, cuts and flicks were all in display as England began to wilt under the onslaught. Finally a tired shot at 221 robbed India of a sensational win. Sunny’s 221 cane from 443 balls with 21 4s.
Ravi Shastri 187 1990
Ravi Shastri was in big run making form towards the later stages of his career. At the Oval in 1990 on a flat batting deck, India batted first and piled on 606 runs. Which was possible due to opener Ravi Shastri’s marathon 187 off 436 balls with 23 4s. He was all patience and application and held the Indian batting together. Scoring all his runs off the drives and flicks. The England bowlers tried with all their might to dislodge Shastri but he was solid as a rock. And put India in a strong position in the Test match.
Kapil Dev 110 1990
In the same innings as above, Kapil Dev played a classy knock of 110 runs off 142 balls with 16 glorious 4s. While Shastri was creating a big foundation, Kapil came in and played flowing shots, the cuts, drives, flicks, glides past slips and pull shots. He had a big 110 runs stand with Shastri and another 104 runs stand with keeper Kiran More as India marched towards 600. India had England under score board pressure for the rest of the match. England could not save the follow on but managed to save the match.
Rahul Dravid 217 2002
In another high scoring Oval test, England scored 515 in their first innings and India replied back with 508 which was possible almost entirely due to Rahul Dravid’s sublime double century. Dravid was batting superbly in the whole series and was the mainstay of the Indian batting. In this innings, he came to bat early after Sehwag got out cheaply. India were later 87/2 but Dravid was Rick solid and played like a true wall, showing his full repertoire of technique and elegant shots in his marathon 468 ball stay in which he hit 28 majestic fours, full of elegant drives on both sides of the pitch and his full range of on side shots.
The extent of Dravid’s run making in that innings can be gauged from the fact that the next highest score was 54 from Tendulkar. Finally, Dravid was dismissed for 217 runs and India made the test match safe.
Anil Kumble 110* 2007
The most unexpected century came from Anil Kumble in India’s victorious 2007 series. Already 1-0 up, India practically sealed the series in their favour with a massive first innings score of 664 runs in the final Test at the Oval. With almost everyone getting some runs, Kumble too decided to play a long innings. Managed to score a fine unbeaten 110 runs in 193 balls with 16 fours and 1 six. He had a big partnership of 91 runs with Dhoni who scored 92 and then stayed till the end playing. Some thrashing drives and entertaining the crowd as India piled on 664. Kumble was delighted after getting his only test century of this long career in which he ended with 619 wickets to become India’s all-time highest wicket-taker in test cricket.
KL Rahul 149 2018
India had already lost the series being down 1-3 when the final test was played at the Oval. India batting last was set a massive 464 run winning target and was already reeling at 5/121. This is when KL Rahul and a young Rishabh Pant got together to stage a great fightback with aggressive intent with a great partnership of 204. Rahul had a horror series with several low scores as an opener and struggling to both the balls leaving him and coming in . However on this day, he batted freely and decided that enough is enough, he will get runs by playing attacking cricket. And so he did as he played several gorgeous shots in his 149 dazzling runs off 224 balls with 20 fours and one six. His dismissal triggered a collapse and India lost the test.
Rishabh Pant 114 2018
In that same 2nd innings as above, Rishabh Pant, on his debut test series finally came good. Played fearless cricket as he and Rahul decided to play their natural game after India was reeling at 121/5. Pant played several dazzling shots particularly on the on side as he and Rahul added 204 runs. Pant hit 15 fours and 4 towering sixes in his 146 ball knock. This was his first test 100. However, after his dismissal, India folded up quickly to lose by 118 runs.