Chennai: Talented opener K L Rahul displayed superb temperament but missed out on a well-deserved double century by a solitary run even though India were in a commanding position at 391 for 4 wickets on the third day of the fifth cricket Test against England.
India are only 87 runs behind England with six wickets in hand and the penultimate day’s proceedings on how the hosts play an enforcer will determine if there would be a result of the match.
Rahul, who hit a career-best 199, was on a record breaking spree en route his fourth Test hundred.
He was devastated after coming tantalisingly close to his maiden double hundred before a moment’s laziness saw him slash a loopy leg break from Adil Rashid straight into the hands of Jos Buttler.
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So disappointed was Rahul that he found it difficult to drag himself back to the pavilion even as his captain Virat Kohli looked equally gutted.
His innings was the highest by an Indian opener against England at home since Budhi Kunderan’s 192 at erstwhile Madras in 1964.
He faced 311 balls to hit 16 boundaries and three lovely sixes of off spinners Liam Dawson and Moeen Ali.
An opening partnership of 152 with Parthiv Patel (71) set the perfect platform and it was utilised perfectly with another 161-run stand for the fourth wicket with Karun Nair (71 batting).
Both Parthiv and Karun also notched up their individual best in Test cricket.
Karun would also feel happy having made most of the third chance that he got after getting out cheaply in the first two Tests.
It was primarily due to Rahul that India scored 331 runs in 88 overs today despite their two prime performers in skipper Virat Kohli (15) and No.3 Cheteshwar Pujara (16) having a rare off day.
An elegant stroke player, Rahul did not have big scores (0,10 and 24) in the previous three innings since his comeback from the hamstring injury. Not to forget he missed the Mohali Test due to a bruised forearm.
Having played cautiously yesterday, Rahul was at his elegant best striking some flowing drives and the lofted sixes off Dawson were a treat for the eyes.
Just how much Rahul’s presence means for Kohli was evident when the Indian skipper raised his arms before the centurion when they were running the milestone run for the Mangalore man.
It has been Kohli’s unshakable belief in Rahul’s abilities that has made him stand by him despite talks about Gautam Gambhir deserving a few more chances.