Rahul, Pant heroics in vain as England round series off with Oval win
Author : Salman Khan 12 Sep, 2018
Big Picture: After a fine rearguard by India, England eventually closed out the fifth and final Test, winning the game by 118 runs when they bowled out India for 345 on the final day, thereby taking the five-test series 4-1 at The Oval in London on Tuesday (September 11). The match, Alastair Cook's last in an England shirt, ended with James Anderson (3 for 45) fittingly claiming the last wicket which took him ahead of Glenn McGrath's tally of 563 Test wickets making him the most successful fast bowler in Test history.
India resumed the day at 58 for 3, and with a middle order as brittle as theirs, the odds were heavily stacked against them to last the entire day. But KL Rahul, who remained unbeaten at 46 overnight, revived India's hopes of fighting out a draw, and fleetingly briefly of a win, while making a sublime 149. It needed a special delivery from Adil Rashid (2 for 63) to end his spirited knock which paved the way for an England win.
Plays of the Day
With India losing two early wickets, it was wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant who counterattacked his way to a maiden Test hundred and added 204 runs for the sixth wicket with Rahul. Pant was on 95, and with Rashid bowling, the stage was set for him to go past his hundred in grand style. He did not disappoint as he launched the legspinner over long-on for six to bring up his century in the most exhilarating fashion, and in doing so, he also became the first ever Indian wicket-keeper to score a Test century in England. And, incidentally, the 20-year-old had brought up his first Test runs in the exact same manner in Nottingham.
Performer of the Day
Rahul managed to keep his spot for the final game by the skin of his teeth. With only 113 runs off four Tests prior to this game, Rahul clearly looked out of depth in the series. But, despite India tottering at 2 for 3 yesterday, Rahul played out the day calmly. On the final day of the series, he played with a perfect mix of caution and aggression while scoring runs all around the ground. After going past his first hundred in 28 innings, Rahul showed a lot of poise and, along with Pant, batted out the entire session after lunch taking India close to a draw. His 224-ball innings was punctuated with 20 fours and a solitary six - a slap over cover to an attempted bouncer off Ben Stokes while backing away.
It was another 'what if..' kind of overseas series for India. They failed to seal the crunch moments and didn't click as a team. The focus will now shift to white-ball cricket with India heading for the Asia Cup. Meanwhile, as the dust settles on Cook's retirement, England will have to quickly find a replacement ahead of their winter tour to Sri Lanka.