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ICC has given the nod to conduct four–day Tests on a trial basis, effectively giving green light to the December 26–29 Boxing Day Test between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
How will it be done?
Extending the playing hours and enforcing high penalty for slow over-rate will mean teams will now have to bowl 100 overs a day, instead of 90 overs.
Why was it done?
Of the 162 Tests played since January 2014, 112 got over in under 400 overs.
Reduction in days means more Tests in a series and less broadcasting cost.
A Thursday start would mean, the weekend coinciding with the final two days of the Test.
How does it work for India?
Of late India Tests have been predominantly four-day affairs. However, a closer look at the scorecards does throw up some very thrilling games that have gone into the fifth day.
India vs South Africa, Wanderers (2013)
South Africa needed 458 to win from a little over 4 sessions. Most expected the home side to bide their time out in the middle. However, against a tiring and a complacent Indian attack, Faf Du Plessis and AB De Villiers struck fluent centuries on the final day. At one stage, it looked like the duo would take South Africa home. Tragically, they were 8 runs short of the target, and still had three wickets in hand, when umpires decided to call off play. The match ended in a draw, but the home side surely gave Dhoni’s men a mighty scare.
India vs England,
England needed 319 to win with over 120 overs to play. They started off rather tentatively, but with the help of Joe Root, finished Day 4 at 4/105. However, Ishant Sharma snapped five wickets on the final day to give India their lone win against England that summer.
India vs Australia, Adelaide Oval (2014)
When Australia declared at the end of the fourth day’s play, India required 348 from the mandatory 90 overs of the final day. In their pursuit, India lost early wickets, but Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli, the stand-in captain, added 185 runs in 50 overs to kickstart the chase. After Vijay’s departure for 99, India lost the remaining seven wickets for 77 runs to hand Australia a thrilling 48-run win.
India vs England, Rajkot (2016)
England declared their second innings at 260/3, leaving India to hunt down 310 on the final day. On a venomous pitch, this would be a tricky chase. By the afternoon session, when India lost six wickets, England sniffed a chance. However, captain Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja played with utmost care as the match ended in a draw.
38 Out of the 51 Tests that India have played in the last 5 years, 38 Tests have finished inside 400 overs. They have won 28 Tests in this period, losing 11, while the remaining 12 have all ended as draws.