Woakes in 'no doubt' England can pull off record chase

London (AFP) –


Chris Woakes insisted on Sunday that England could pull off a record run chase ahead of what promises to be a thrilling last day in the fourth Test against India at the Oval.

Fifties from Rishabh Pant and Shardul Thakur propelled India to a second-innings total of 466 and set England a daunting target of 368.

But openers Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed held firm in to leave England on 77-0 at stumps on the fourth day, with the hosts needing a further 291 runs for an unlikely win and a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.

England's highest fourth-innings winning total was the Ben Stokes-inspired 362-9 against Australia at Headingley in 2019, with their highest victorious chase at the Oval the 263-9 they made against Australia back in 1902.

But Woakes said England can draw on their monumental 2019 Ashes win and last year's successful chase of 277 against Pakistan -- in which he scored a decisive unbeaten 84 -- for inspiration.

"This team has done special things over the last few years. We've got the belief we can go and get the win," Woakes told reporters.

"A lot of hard work still needs to be done. You can draw on those experiences, looking at what we are capable of. It's about belief.

"Everyone will agree that we can go and get the runs -- there will be no doubts about that."

After 13 wickets fell on an eventful first day, both teams have since found wickets harder to come by.

England's attack grew weary as India's lower order plundered boundaries, with Thakur bludgeoning seven fours and a six during his 72-ball 60 to add to his first-innings 57.

But Woakes, who took 3-83 in India's second innings after making 50 in England's first-innings total of 290, believes the Oval pitch is better than the Old Trafford surface on which England chased 277 against Pakistan last year.

- 'Desperate' -

And after more than a year away from Test cricket due to injury and Covid quarantines, he is relishing the prospect of a tense final day.

"I've been desperate to be a part of the series. It's been exciting, a great comeback into Test cricket," he said.

"The atmosphere will be great and that's where you want to be as a player."

Meanwhile India batting coach Vikram Rathour hailed Thakur following the all-rounder's third fifty in four Tests.

"He's somebody who works really hard on his batting, and I think his biggest asset is his temperament," Rathour said.

"Very impressive, he's already played three very important innings in a short span. He can play a big role in Indian cricket in the coming times."