India vs England: Rishabh Pant slams maiden ton, creates history at Oval
Rishabh Pant became the first Indian wicketkeeper to score a Test century in England as his stunning counter-attack with opener KL Rahul turned the final Test at the Oval into a late thriller on Tuesday.
Pant, 20, playing in only his third Test after his debut at Trent Bridge, tore into the England attack as the home bowlers had their fangs drawn on a good pitch where Alastair Cook and Joe Root had hit centuries the previous day.
Rahul, who struck his fifth Test century, first in England and fourth away from home, was unbeaten on 142 and Pant was 101 not out as the sixth wicket pair took India to 298/5, the unbroken partnership worth 177 runs.
More interest was on the 166 runs to get in the final session, with 32 overs still to bowl. If India get to the target, it would be a world record with West Indies’ 418/7 to beat Australia in the 2003 Antigua Test being the current mark.
However, England can take the second new ball five overs into the final session, which will be a test for both the batsmen.
Pant smashed a series of short-pitched deliveries from Ben Stokes and hit leg-spinner Adil Rashid for two sixes wide of long on to complete his century in just 117 deliveries (101no – 118b, 14x4, 3x6). Rahul, having batted around five hours had faced 210 deliveries (19x4, 1x6).
Rahul struck his first century since his 199 against England at Chennai in December, 2016 and held firm after the quick dismissals of Ajinkya Rahane (37) and Hanuma Vihari (0) reduced India to 121 for five and staring at defeat.
But Rahul and Pant played sensibly with the ball not moving much. Root struggled to find a way to get a breakthrough, even bringing himself on but the scoring hovered around five runs an over. Eventually, Stuart Broad and James Anderson came on close to tea and beat Pant’s bat a couple of times.
England had declared their second innings at 423/8 after tea on Day 4 to set India an improbable fourth innings target of 464, which looked so distant when India were reduced to three down for two runs after Kohli’s dismissal.