Virat Kohli can certainly do no wrong. Whether batting or captaining the side, Kohli is making all the right decisions and giving India results like never before. Just a few hours earlier there were talks about Kohli declaring the innings too late to accommodate Karun Nair`s record triple hundred, leaving too little time on a placid pitch to get 10 England wickets. The critics almost started to sound correct when England openers played out the complete first session but then it happened again – England collapsed yet again to give India the series 4-0 and with that a record streak of 18 unbeaten matches. It was the Karnataka show with the bat with Karun (303*) and KL Rahul (199) leading their way into the record books and then the knight like carer best bowling by Ravindra Jadeja (48/7) to skittle England in the nick of time.
England had yet again won the toss and batted first, in order to get the best out of the pitch. The first thing that England would have hoped for to gain control of the match was to score big in the first innings but both the openers departed early, leaving England score at 21 for 2, to dent their own chances. India gained the early points by sending back Cook and Jennings early but there were many in-form English batsmen waiting in the wings to change the course of the innings and that is exactly what Joe Root and Moeen Ali did. Joe Root missed yet another century on this tour as he nicked one off Jadeja, as the DRS suggested, overturning the on field umpire’s decision, to walk back after scoring 88 runs. Moeen continued to flourish to score his 2nd century of the series and finally finished at 146 courtesy a brilliant short bowling display by Umesh Yadav. Johnny Bairstow`s 49 along with Adil Rashid and debutant Liam Dawson`s fighting half centuries propelled England’s first innings to a massive 477 runs. In a marathon effort from the Indian bowlers, Jadeja picked up 3 wickets while Umesh and Ishant had 2 wickets apiece. Ashwin had a rare off day as he finished with 151 for 1.
The Chennai pitch was as flat as a highway and a dream for any batsman but the scoreboard pressure often makes batsmen do funny things and in order to not do something like that India had to make sure they start well. Murli Vijay had injured his shoulder while fielding and as a result Parthiv Patel had to open along with KL Rahul. Parthiv could have been a makeshift opener but his batting was not. Parthiv and Rahul started brilliantly to thwart any England chances of putting early pressure on India. Both put together an opening partnership of 152 runs before Parthiv departed for a career best 71 runs. India main stays Pujara and Kohli disappointed by scoring just 16 and 15 runs respectively. At 211 for 3, India looked in a bit of discomfort with young Karun Nair coming in to join Rahul, who had just completed his century. It was a tricky situation as another quick wicket would have exposed the Indian lower middle order pretty soon with a long way to go. Karun was trying to settle down as Rahul went about his business unfazed at the other end and once Karun got into the groove, run started flowing from both the ends. Rahul looked set for his first double ton just when an anxious shot off Rashid landed into the hands of the point fielder and Rahul had to start the long walk back for an amazing yet painful 199 runs. With this statistic, Rahul became the second Indian batsman after Mohd. Azharuddin to be dismissed on 199 runs. In this effort, Rahul had stitched together a mammoth 161 run partnership with Karun Nair, who was looking good for a very big score. At 372 for 4, India were now within a manageable distance of the English first innings score and what followed was magical to say the least. After Rahul`s dismissal, Murli Vijay scored 29, Ashwin got 67 and Jadeja hammered 51 but during that time, at the other end, a legend was being made. Karun Nair was firing on all cylinders to speed past 100, 150, 200, 250 and finally yes 300. Karun Nair rewrote cricket history books for India with a superlative unbeaten triple century. He is now the second Indian only after Virender Sehwag to score a triple century in test matches and the only Indian to convert his maiden hundred into a triple. He has now become the quickest player to score a triple century, playing just his 3rd match. This monumental innings meant India declared at 759 for 7, their highest ever test score, leading England by a whopping 282 runs.
England had 6 overs to negate on day 4 and the complete day 5 to save the match. Cook and Jennings batted well to keep India at bay for more than a session to add 103 runs for the first wicket but once Cook departed, the rally began again for England as kept losing wickets in groups. 4 wickets went down in the 2nd session and the remaning 6 wickets in the final session. Ravindra Jadeja produced his career best spell to castle England`s 7 wickets to take his match tally to 10 wickets for the first time in his career.
The series was India`s anyway but this win has made it more emphatic. Karun Nair’s record show has given India a new star and a player to watch out for. Rahul played an exceptional innings and the best part of the match was that despite Kohli, Pujara and Ashwin’s failure, India stod up to the challenge and won. The Indian bench strength has performed exceptionally well and will build hopes for a brighter future. England on the other hand has made it a habit of collapsing in the final and crucial stages as shown in this series and the Bangladesh series earlier. Overall a dream series for India who were really charged up to beat England as the previous three series against them had gone the other way.
England 477/10 & 207/10
India 759/7 Dec.
Result: India beat England by an innings and 75 runs.