London, A brilliant fightback by Lokesh Rahul and Rishabh Pant kept England at bay as India reached 298/5 at Tea on the final day of the fifth and final Test at the Oval here on Tuesday.
At the break, Rahul was batting on 142 while Pant, who was on 101, gave him excellent support from the other end.
The duo’s sixth wicket partnership of 177 runs not only kept the English bowlers struggling, but also gave India a slim hope of clinching the Test as the visitors now need 166 runs in the final session, which makes the contest interesting.
This is the fifth century of Rahul’s Test career. The opener, who hit 19 boundaries and a six off the 216 balls he has faced so far, has been the epitome of patience and grit during India’s second innings.
Pant meanwhile, slammed his first Test ton. He has faced 117 balls and slammed 14 fours and three sixes over the course of his knock.
In the 74th over, the Delhi batsman slog sweeped a Moeen Ali delivery over deep mid on to become the first ever Indian wicket-keeper to score a Test century in England.
Resuming the afternoon session at 167/5, Rahul and Pant denied the English bowlers making any further inroads into the Indian camp, as the hosts had jolted them with two quick wickets in the morning session.
It was the duo’s fearless batting which helped India reach close to the 300-run mark without losing any further wicket.
Earlier, starting the fifth day at 58/3, overnight batsmen Ajinkya Rahane (37 off 106 balls) and Rahul showed tremendous resistance against the English bowlers by taking India past the 100-run mark.
However, just when everything was going in India’s way, Moeen Ali struck to send back Rahane as an across the line sweep by the batsman fell into the hands of Keaton Jennings in front of square, which left the visitors at 120/4.
Debutant Hanuma Vihari, who had notched up his maiden half-century in the first innings, fell cheaply after contributing just one run.
A short delivery by Ben Stokes kissed Vihari’s outside edge before landing in the gloves of Jonny Bairstow, putting India into deep trouble.
Brief scores: England 332, 423/8d vs India 292 & 298/5 (KL Rahul 142, Ajinkya Rahane 101; James Anderson 2/33)