London: KL Rahul’s (149, 224b, 20×4, 1×6) and young Rishabh Pant’s (114, 146b, 15×4, 4×6) failed to prevent the inevitable as India lost the fifth Test against England at the Oval here Tuesday by 188 runs. The hosts thus wrapped up the five-game series 4-1. India were bowled out for 345 chasing a mammoth victory target of 464 runs.
Making amends for a below-par show in the preceding Tests, Rahul and Pant sang the redemption song with attractive centuries to raise visions of an improbable victory before Adil Rashid (2/63 in 15 overs) dashed their hopes with a twin blow.
Rashid bowled a prodigious leg-break that pitched on the rough and clipped Rahul’s off-bail and in his next over Pant tried to hit him for his fifth six only to hole out to Moeen Ali.
Once the 204-run sixth wicket stand ended, India tried to hang on for a respectable draw but it was of no avail.
England skipper Joe Root took the second new ball and his new ‘go to’ man Sam Curran (2/23 in 9 overs) promptly delivered by polishing off the tail with Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja being removed in quick succession.
Fittingly, it was England’s senior-most bowler Jimmy Anderson (3/45), who castled Mohammed Shami to end the match and also surpass Glenn McGrath as the highest wicket-taking pacer in Test match history.
It couldn’t have been a more emotional farewell for Alastair Cook as he led the team off the ground amidst a thunderous standing ovation from a knowledgeable Oval crowd.
Rahul batted in a cavalier fashion for the first time in the series as he added 118 runs with Ajinkya Rahane (37, 106b, 5×4) on a flat batting deck. However, once more Rahane fell trying to sweep, which he could have easily avoided. His dismissal was followed by Hanuma Vihari’s (0) and England who had toiled away in the morning were suddenly back in the game.
Rahul was at his elegant best driving and cutting with a lot of ferocity including a slapped six over extra-cover of Ben Stokes and four off the bowler to complete his fifth Test hundred.
However in the post-lunch session, it was young Pant, who made amends for his poor glovework with some exhilarating strokeplay that included 15 boundaries and four huge sixes.
When the final session started, India needed 166 runs in 32 overs and there were serious hopes of an astonishing victory. They weren’t playing for a draw and with Stuart Broad’s rib-cage injury, the other bowlers became easy pickings for Pant especially. He was audacious in his strokeplay and didn’t let his shoddy keeping affect his batting.
564 – No of wickets for James Anderson, the most by a pace bowler, beating Glenn McGrath’s tally of 563
204 – Runs added by Rahul and Pant for the sixth wicket
593 – Number of runs scored by Virat Kohli in the series, the most by any batsman of both sides