KL Rahul suffered a heartbreak as he was dismissed for 199 after shouldering responsibility to guide India’s solid reply to England’s first innings 477 all out on the third day of the final Test against England on Sunday.
The 24-year-old batsman, who played fluently and then showed maturity by being more choosy with his shots after England seamers Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad struck in quick succession to remove in-form skipper Virat Kohli (15) and Cheteshwar Pujara (16) in the space of 9.5 overs, fell on the verge of a deserved milestone. (HIGHLIGHTS)
The Karnataka batsman produced yet another fine sweep for four off leg-spinner Adil Rashid to set himself up for his first career double-century, but was sucked into a slow, flighted delivery next up, which he reached and edged straight to Jos Buttler at point.
A distraught KL Rahul slumped on the pitch before dragging himself away, having gained the record as the second Indian batsman to be dismissed one short of 200, after Mohammad Azharuddin was out for 199 against Sri Lanka at Kanpur in 1986. (SCORECARD)
Rahul faced 311 deliveries in his eight-and-a-half hour knock, hitting 16 fours and three sixes.
India were 391 for four at stumps. Karun Nair (71 not out) and Murali Vijay (17) were batting.
Rahul dominated two splendid partnerships. He first raised a 151-run partnership with Parthiv Patel, who made a career-best 71 after the wicketkeeper was promoted in place of Murali Vijay, who had a bruised shoulder.
His fourth wicket partnership with Karnataka teammate Karun Nair was worth 161 runs.
It wasn’t all easy for the hosts as England tightened things with the MA Chidambaram Stadium pitch, which had played beautifully on the first two days, slowing down indicating some wear and tear, allowing the odd delivery to grip and jump.
Rahul braved cramp to score his second 150 plus total, bettering the 158 he made against West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica on the July-August tour.
England pacers got the ball to reverse. Stokes had Pujara caught by skipper Alastair Cook at first slip trying to steer and Broad claimed Kohli. The skipper, whose lowest completed score in the series is 40, drove without getting to the pitch of the ball to be caught at cover.
India reached 256 for three at tea, scoring only 83 runs for two wickets, but Rahul and Karun Nair (136 balls, 6x4) accelerated to add 135 runs in the final session.
England missed a chance to break the fourth-wicket stand earlier when Nair edged Jake Ball in the first over with the second new ball. But Cook, late to react at slip, let the ball bounce off his hand.
The 24-year-old Rahul, who played his first eight Tests outside the country and reached his first fifty-plus score at home in the morning, reached triple figures with three runs from 98 following an overthrow into the post-lunch session.
Rahul and Patel’s partnership bettered the 135 put on by Sunil Gavaskar and Farokh Engineer against England at Mumbai in 1973.