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Both the teams will have to work really hard with the ball in order to extract a result AFP

With both teams having made strong statements in the series opener at Rajkot, the big question arrives after four days of intense cricket: how strong is the possibility of the first Test ending with a result. The possibility of draw had appeared in the horizon on the second day itself, when India made an unscathed beginning in the final session reaching 63 for no loss in 23 overs. For those who thought India s recklessness in the field was the reason England were able to stretch their innings to close to 160 overs, England s failure to strike on the second day highlighted that the pitch was not favourable to the bowlers at all. Full Cricket Scorecard: India vs England 1st Test at Rajkot

However, Stuart Broad provided England a glimmer of hope when he struck early on the third day by removing Gautam Gambhir. An elated England, who had more than 500 runs on the board would have fancied their chances of bowling India out early and earning a match-winning lead. But England ran into a wall Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay slammed centuries and added 209 runs for the second wicket and the tourists remained wicketless for most of the third day. England did try to open up the game again with a flurry of wickets late in the third day and early on Day Four, but as things stand out, a draw is the biggest possibility.

The pitch at the Saurashtra Cricket Stadium in Rajkot the venue which is hosting its first-ever Test has remained true to batting and the bowlers have looked worried more often than not. The frustration of a few dropped catches was evident on the face of Stuart Broad, who, playing in his 100th Test for England had to content with mere 1 wicket in his kitty. Broad was in anguish when Alastair Cook dropped Mohammed Shami late in the Indian innings, since he could not show the same expression when the debutant Haseeb Hameed spilled a crucial catch to get rid of Vijay on Day Three.

For India, batting long and big was the only way they could have replied to England after the howlers they made on the field. Had India hung on to the three catches that came their way in the first 6 overs of the first day, the story of this Test could have been different. Had Indian fielders got close to the catches that Ben Stokes offered on his way to the match-highest 126, the English total would not have surged to 500 and beyond.

On their part, the Indian batsmen did not provide England as many chances as the tourists did. Pujara and Vijay batted with complete authority, and Ravichandran Ashwin s innings of 70 was one of the most assured knocks. England did drop a few catches, but in the end, they bowled as many as 162 overs to get the 10 Indian wickets and if this trend is anything to go by, a tame draw is the only result that can be assumed.

The possibility of a draw has strengthened following England s strong start in the second innings. It was expected that with the pitch offering a little more to the spinners, the Indian bowlers will be able to create some sort of impact. But India ended up bowling as many as 37 overs and did not produce enough wicket-taking deliveries which could derail the English sides. All that India got from the wicket was the odd ball turning sharply, as England stroked their way to a commanding lead of 163.

For England to push for a win, they will have to get at least 350 on the board. In order to do that, England will consume at least more than one full session. Batting with the intent of getting runs quickly also opens up the risk of losing wickets, and England might opt against it since they will not want to take unwanted risk. At the crease are their openers Alastair Cook and Haseeb Hameed, who are not really stroke-makers, as good as some other explosive batsmen which England have in their middle-order. England will need more than 200 runs, which will help them take their lead a little beyond 350, which will be a safe score.

But it will be a risky venture for England, since the Indians will come harder at them, having their own plans. India will not want to be in a situation when they are completely dominated by the English side, which will tilt the mood of the series in the favour of the touring party. On the final day when India will not have anything to lose, the hosts will want to seize the initiative and push for a victory.

For either of the teams to win, there has to be a flurry of wickets, which is very unlikely on this wicket. England bat extremely deep, so for India to take 10 wickets on the final day would require a bowling effort, which has not been witnessed from either sides so far in the contest. And if England land up in a situation where they would have lost a lot of wickets, they will be more than happy to push for a draw.

Cook is known as a safety-first captain and keeping this in mind, a declaration after the first session is highly unlikely, unless England get more than 120-odd runs in the morning. But Indians are known for running through teams in less amount of time, which implies that England will have to take calculated risks with the bat. And if England declare at any point in the second session, one-and-a-half sessions are too less to bowl out a stubborn Indian batting line-up.

The Rajkot Test has been nothing but a run-fest, and going ahead into the series, now that India have seen what the English spinners can do, there will be clear planning for the remainder of the games. Both the teams will have to keep in mind that their players need ample rest moving ahead into the second Test at Visakhapatnam, and this might put them off from pushing hard for a win at Rajkot.

(Devarchit Varma is a senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)