End of India’s ‘what if’ story

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 12 Sep 2018 12:20:00


 

 

Rahul and Pant hit valiant tons but India lose 5th Test by 118 runs and series 1-4

LONDON

INDIA lost the fifth and final Test against England by 118 runs here Tuesday despite heroic resistance from KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant, bringing the curtains down on a tour which started as a golden opportunity but ended in a saga of disappointments.


A mediocre England team with a fragile batting line-up won the series by a comprehensive 4-1 margin after India were bowled out for 345 in pursuit of mammoth target of 464.


Making amends for a below-par show in the preceding Tests, Rahul (149 off 224 balls) and Pant (114 off 146 balls) 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 hoick him for his fifth six only to be holed out by 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.
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 in 22.3 overs), 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 knowledgable Oval crowd.


However there were a couple of times when it looked that India could at least earn a respectable draw if not a win.
Rahul batted in a cavalier fashion for the first time in the series as he added 118 runs with Ajinkya Rahane on a flat batting deck at the Oval.


Rahane (37)’s indiscreet sweep shot followed by Hanuma Vihari’s (0) dismissal saw India reduced to 121 for 5 before the complexion of the game changed once again. 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.


Such was Pant’s dominance that Rahul quietly dropped anchor letting Pant cut loose as he launched into England’s spin duo of Rashid and Moeen Ali.