CHENNAI: Karun Nair smashed a sensational triple century to leave England on the ropes as India pushed for an unlikely victory in the Chennai Test to achieve only their second-ever 4-0 series victory.
Nair joined rare company by becoming only the third Test batsman to convert his maiden century into a triple, emulating West Indies legend Gary Sobers and Australia great Bob Simpson.
The 25-year-old hammered an unbeaten 303 off 381 balls, becoming only the second Indian, after Virender Sehwag’s 319 and 309, to score a Test triple hundred.
Nair smashed England’s hapless bowling on the fourth day of the final Test against England, reaching the landmark close to stumps. He hit 32 fours and four sixes in his knock spanning four minutes short of 10 hours.
Although Sehwag’s record was within touching distance, India skipper Virat Kohli declared at an all-time record of 759/7 once Nair got the milestone with a boundary off leg-spinner Adil Rashid to have a go at England before stumps.
With a lead of 282 runs, India will look to bring a tired England under pressure on the final day.
The visitors were 12 for no loss in five overs at stumps in their second innings.
Five short of his Test double at tea, Nair went on a hitting spree in the final session after emulating Dilip Sardesai (200* vs New Zealand, 1965) and Vinod Kambli (224 v England, 1993), the other two India batsmen who had turned their first century into a double.
His domination of the England bowling, compounded by catches dropped by Alastair Cook on 34 overnight and by Joe Root on 216, brought him in elite company.
Sobers’ first Test century was a then-world record 365 not out as a 21-year-old against Pakistan in 1958 while Simpson converted his into 311.
There were tense faces in the India camp as he approached his double century after opener KL Rahul’s dismissal for 199 overnight.
On 299, there was an appeal for leg before after missing a sweep against Rashid, but he drove the next ball sweetly, raising his bat to a packed crowd and his parents in the stands.
Nair made his debut in the third Test in Mohali, having come into the eleven as an injury replacement for Rohit Sharma.
The ramp short and reverse sweeps, besides the perfect cover drives, were all there as India piled up 177 runs in the final session.
India surpassed their highest Test score of 726/9 declared, made against Sri Lanka in Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium in 2009.
The demoralised England bowlers kept plugging away, but their only hope lay in pitching it short as there was firmness in the pitch short of the good length area.
Nair, who came into bat after lunch on Day 3, featured in three of India’s four big partnerships. His 161-run stand with Rahul overnight was followed by 181 with R Ashwin (67) and 138 for the seventh wicket with Ravindra Jadeja (51).