England vs India 5th Test Day 5: Rahul, Pant put up valiant fight, but England give Cook perfect farewell

England 118-run win 4-1 series victory India 5th Test Day 5 The Oval cricket

England celebrate after winning the series 4-1

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

India opener Lokesh Rahul and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant scored 149 and 114 respectively, but their efforts went in vain as England ensured Alastair Cook had a perfect swansong as they secured a 118-run win and a 4-1 series victory.

To make the moment all the more sweeter, England seamer James Anderson not only wrapped up the win for the hosts when he clean bowled Mohammed Shami, but also surpassed legendary Australia pace bowler Glenn McGrath to become the most successful fast bowler in Test history.

Starting off the day on 58/3, Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane converted their 56-run partnership into a 118-run stand, during which Rahul surpassed his half-century.

Rahane, on the other hand, scored 37 before he was caught by Keaton Jennings at midwicket off the bowling of Moeen Ali.

Debutant Hanuma Vihari failed to trouble the scorers as he was caught behind off the bowling of Ben Stokes for a duck.

With India losing two quick wickets, Rahul and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant stabilised the innings with a 204-run stand, during which both batsmen brought up their hundreds.

With India cruising and making great headway towards their target, England tried everything to break the massive partnership the duo had amassed.

Ultimately, it was Adil Rashid who got the job done as he clean bowled Rahul with an absolute ripper for 149, which came off 224 balls and included 20 boundaries and a six.

Rashid struck again in his next over as he had Pant caught by Moeen at long-off for a career-best 114, which came off 146 deliveries and included 15 boundaries and four sixes.

During his knock, Pant became the second-youngest wicketkeeper to score a Test hundred, and the first Indian keeper to score a century in the fourth innings of a Test match.

Ishant Sharma batted bravely with a bad ankle, but he only mustered five runs before he was caught behind off the bowling of Sam Curran.

Curran then took out Jadeja for 13 in the same fashion before Anderson finished things off and etched his name in the record books by cleaning up Shami for a duck.

Anderson, who now has 564 Test wickets to his name, was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Curran and Rashid snapped up two wickets apiece. As for Moeen, Stokes and Stuart Broad, they claimed one wicket each.

India captain Virat Kohli was gutted to have lost, and said: “[On Rahul and Pant] Credit has to go to both those young guys for stepping up on this stage. From three wickets down, it takes guts. It might not show in the scoreline but both sides played in great spirit. That was an example of two guys not giving up and entertaining the crowd.

“This has been one of the best series I’ve been involved in, and a great advert for Test cricket. We didn’t speak about the result, we just wanted to go out and see what happened, waiting and watching, things can change very quickly. That’s the beauty of this format. Take nothing away from those two guys, especially someone like Rishabh who’s come in and shown grit and determination. We certainly have the belief. It was a great preview of what’s in store for him.

“[Regrets?] Definitely think we will sit down and think about if we had taken those opportunities, we missed quite few. When both teams are going for wins, you can have a result that looks like that [4-1], they don’t go for draws. They played fearlessly, you hardly have draws in these tense series and that’s what the scoreline shows. I’m not saying it wasn’t a fair scoreline, because they played better than us, but we can take a lot of heart and apply lessons to how we play Test cricket.

“[Difference between sides?] There’s a reason why we voted for Sam as Man of the Series, he attacked with the bat and with the ball, and made important contributions. It takes character for someone to come in and play like that. He put England in front in those important Test matches.

“[Health of Test cricket?] First and foremost there should be exciting pitches, and both teams should play for the win. Fans come to watch teams be competitive, and I think that is important for the format. Just one word for Alastair, you’ve had a great career, for everything you’ve done, we wish you all the best for the future.”

England skipper Joe Root was thrilled to give Cook the perfect farewell, and said: “Very gratifying, a very tough series, India played some exceptional cricket and some special stuff from our guys as well. Really shows Test cricket is in a special place.

“[Rahul-Pant stand] Those two guys batted exceptionally well, got them in a position where every result was possible, credit to India for playing that manner and credit to our lads for standing up at the end there. Alastair has been an exceptional player for such a long period of time, a huge part of our dressing room, he sets the standard and his reception in this game has been fitting.

“To achieve what Jimmy has achieved to date has been unbelievable, and the scary thing is he believes he’s got a couple of years left. In my opinion, he’s bowling the best he’s ever been. We’re growing all the time as a team, got a lot learning to do but to perform as we have in this series is great.”

Cook was named Man of the Match, and said: “Most amazing week, one you couldn’t have scripted. Just been amazing, great to contribute to an England win, and win the series 4-1, and also a great game of cricket, to go into the last session of the last day with all four results possible, great advert for Test cricket.

“Been great moments, sad moments, when it’s been tough, Test cricket shows how hard it is, turn up needing seven wickets but it goes right to the end. I leave with great memories. Amazing, it was a selfish thing to be standing there while everyone cheering, and then to see Jimmy pass Glenn McGrath’s record was brilliant. That was the hardest bit, him and Broady are the ones I’ve played the most with, to know I’ll never stand at slip and drop another catch off them is sad. We’ve lived in each other’s pickets for 12 years.

“Been a privilege to play with England’s greatest cricketer, no disrespect to any other guys, his skills to do it time and time again, you almost take it for granted, that’s he’s going to hit a length. The game was a little bit tight, but he didn’t miss his length once.

“The amount of hard work, the pressure and strain, I won’t miss that. But you miss the highs and the rewards, playing with this team, be great to see how they develop. This week can’t be beaten, I can walk away with my head held high.”

Curran was named Man of the Series, and said: “[Could it have gone any better?] Not really to be honest, nice to be involved in a great series, luckily it came off in some situations, great to win 4-1 and send Cooky off that way. Trying to keep it as natural as possible, a great learning curve, played only five games, but playing with Jimmy, Broady, pretty awesome after growing up watching them on the sofa.

“Consistency is the main thing, don’t want to look too far ahead, taking it one game at a time and keep contributing.”

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