Needing seven wickets for victory on the final day, the hosts were frustrated for a large time in front of a packed Oval crown before a 118-run victory was achieved in the final hour of the day’s play.
With an action packed Tuesday bringing a fitting end to a hard-fought series between the two sides, we take a look at the key talking points from the final day.
KL RAHUL FINALLY COMES TO THE PARTY
It had been a series filled with frustrations and disappointments for KL Rahul who arrived at England on the back of a stupendous IPL campaign. It was meant to be his chance to stake a permanent claim to the opening slot but it seemed to be heading for a disappointing end after poor displays in the first four Tests.
The signs that he was slowly finding his touch were there to see in the first innings at the Oval where Rahul racked up a quick-fire 37. It was when India were reduced to 2-3 in their chase of 464 in the final innings that Rahul truly burst into life.
The right-hander finally showed the form that had grabbed eyeballs in the IPL with a display filled with some clean and effortless hitting. Taking the attack to the England bowlers, Rahul largely dealt in boundaries as he switched on his ODI batting-mode and racked up a total of 21 of them on his way to a fifth Test ton. He perished just one run shy of the 150-mark but for a brief while, his partnership with Rishabh Pant had raised the prospect of a miraculous India victory.
RISHABH PANT SHOWS HIS PROMISE WITH BELLIGERENT TON
If Rahul had sent a timely reminder of the fact that he can cut it in Test cricket, then Rishabh Pant signalled his readiness to become India’s long-term wicketkeeping option. The youngster had quickly faded away after a promising start to his Test career at Trent Bridge but on Sunday, he showed why he can be such a dangerous batsman in the format with a belligerent ton filled exemplified by brute power and fearless brand of cricket.
He took Rahul’s cue in taking the attack to the hosts with some fierce cuts and pulls and showed no fear in taking the aerial route too. Bringing up his maiden Test ton with a towering six off Adil Rashid, the youngster’s chancy innings at one point looked like he would carry India to a famous victory. However, he ultimately fell on 114 after attempting another slog off Rashid but his 204-run stand with Rahul had showed that the 20-year-old has plenty of fight in his belly.
What was ever more remarkable about his century was the fact that it was the first by an Indian wicket-keeper in South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia.
ANDERSON GOES PAST MCGRATH TO CLINCH ENGLAND WIN
Throughout the series, the prize wicket of Virat Kohli had evaded England’s spearhead James Anderson. When Pant and Rahul were going great on Tuesday, it even looked like the veteran seamer might not inch past Glenn McGrath’s tally of 563 Test wickets having equalled it on Monday.
That wait was exacerbated further on the final day with the landmark wicket proving elusive to Anderson for most of the day while the likes of Rashid and Sam Curran picked away at India’s tailenders.
With India nine down in the final session, the moment was slipping out of Anderson’s grasp until he finally got one to land in the perfect area to flatten Mohammed Shami’s middle-stump. Just like Alastair Cook had got the perfect sendoff, Anderson befittingly became the all-time leading wicket-taker among pacers with the final delivery of the series. It was just reward for a man who also finished as the highest wicket-taker in the series with 24 scalps to his name.
The wicket-keeper batsman and the rest of the 16-man squad departed from Lahore’s Allama Iqbal airport and is convinced his team can perform well in the six-team tournament.
“The team has prepared a lot for the tournament and we will try our best to perform well in all three categories,” Sarfraz said during a media interaction at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore on Monday.
All eyes will be on Pakistan’s clash against arch-rivals India on September 19 and Sarfraz wants his side to be in peak condition by the time the game comes around.
“Every match against India is extremely important. Momentum is very important, so we’ll try to generate momentum in the first game and go into the fixture against India thoroughly prepared,” he said.
The last time the two neighbours met, Pakistan thumped India by 180 runs in the ICC Champions Trophy final in London last year. Sarfraz believes that result will have no bearing when the two teams take to the field against each other at Dubai.
“That match is in the past. It was almost one-and-a-half years ago. So I don’t think we should consider it that much. All professional teams put the past behind and look forward. Both teams will do the same,” he added.
The event also features Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and qualifier Hong Kong. The wicketkeeper-batsman lauded the quality in all six teams and believes there will be no easy games in the tournament.
“I’ve seen all the squads and they’re all very strong, no team can be taken lightly. Teams will have to play very good cricket if they are to win the tournament,” the Pakistan captain said.
Pakistan, who have been placed in group A, will begin their campaign on September 16 against minnows Hong Kong at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
UAE businessman Ajay Sethi, who won the rights to own the Nelson Mandela Bay Stars team in the now defunct T20 Global League, said he plans to sue the South Africa cricket board after they announced plans for a new-look T20 tournament.
Cricket South Africa on Saturday decided to go ahead with a new T20 league in place of the T20 Global League and Sethi said he will look to put a stay on any such plans.
“We were waiting for them to make their final decision, which they did on Saturday. We are going to put a stay. We own the teams. We are going to seek legal judgment,” Sethi told Sport360 on Monday.
The T20 Global League was called off last year after the South African board failed to find sponsors or a broadcast deal. The new league is expected to feature six city-based teams.
“Financial losses are a separate matter. No T20 league can happen. You can’t have owners, finish the draft stage and change your stance because of a TV deal. And then have a new league. This is not business,” Sethi added.
The Channel 2 group chairman said he plans to initiate legal proceedings in a week or so.
“We are four or five owners at the moment, so most are in support of us. We will see within a week or 10 days that legal action will be taken,” he added.