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“Now you understand when your coach tells you that one run will be important.” A dejected KL Rahul said after the day’s play in Chennai. He was trying hard to hide his emotions but clearly that one run was hurting.
The India opener missed his maiden double ton in Test cricket when he chased a wide delivery from Adil Rashid and lobbed it to cover fielder when he was on 199. He crumbled into a heap after he was dismissed and walked back to the pavillion in utter disbelief.
But before that, he shared some crucial partnerships with other batsmen to propel India to 391 for the loss of four wickets at stumps on day three. The hosts are just 86 runs behind England’s first innings total of 477.
Rahul innings saw 16 fours and three sixes as he scored his runs at a strike rate of just below 70. The innings was a real testimony of Rahul’s ability to play spin and pace as he swept the spinner on both sides of the square.
Resuming the day at 60 for no loss, the Indian openers Rahul and Parthiv Patel carried on in positive manner and scored at more than four runs an over. The England bowlers got no assistance from the pitch.
Rahul notched up his half-century before Parthiv, who soon followed, as both shared a 152-run stand for the opening wicket, the first time in 32 innings that an Indian opening pair added more than 100 runs.
Parthiv was dismissed for 71 when he tried to loft Moeen Ali over mid-wicket but instead got a leading edge and was caught at covers. This was his highest Test score so far, overtaking the 69 he scored against Pakistan in 2004.
Cheteshwar Pujara added 29 runs with Rahul before he poked at a ball outside off from Ben Stokes that saw him caught at first slip just after Lunch.
After Lunch, Rahul completed his fourth Test century and first in India off 171 ball with eight fours and two sixes.
England got the big wicket of India captain Virat Kohli when he also drove a wide ball from Stuart Broad straight to extra cover. India were reduced to 211 for three in the 61st over.
Rahul’s Karnataka team-mate Karun Nair joined him in the middle and both began to rebuild the Indian innings slowly. Both took India past 300 and Nair even completed his maiden fifty in Test cricket.
Both the players looked good to take India to stumps. Rahul was racing towards his double century and was in the 109s in the 30-added minutes in the day’s play.
With just 20 minutes left to close of play, Rahul tried going after a very wide delivery which lobbed to Jos Buttler. The crowd fell silent but then rose to give a standing ovation to the batsman. Even the Indian dressing room was shocked to see Rahul dismissed.
Murali Vijay, who didn’t open due to an injury, came in to bat at number six, and was unbeaten with Nair at stumps.