England completed a convincing 118-run win over India in the fifth Test match at the Oval and claimed the series 4-1 but were made to work for their victory by centurions KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant.
Resuming on 58-3 and chasing an unlikely 464 to win, the visitors offered stubborn resistance amid a stern examination from England’s attack.
Jose Root & Co. had to wait until shortly before lunch to make the breakthrough when Ajinkya Rahane swiped across the line and gifted Moeen Ali a wicket, spooning a catch to Keaton Jennings. And England appeared to be cantering towards victory when, in the next over, Ben Stokes produced some decisive extra bounce and had Hanuma Vihari caught behind.
After lunch Rahul was joined by Pant with India staring a comprehensive defeat in the face but the pair put on a sensational 204-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
Opener Rahul was the first to go past three figures and when Pant brought up his maiden Test ton India were beginning to dream of the unlikeliest of wins and completing the highest ever fourth innings run chase in Test history. They were 136 runs short of the victory total when England eventually made the breakthrough, Adil Rashid belatedly coming to the party by producing a moment of magic, turning one square out of the rough to end Rahul’s innings one run short of his 150.
Pant followed just two overs later when he failed to pick Rashid’s googly and was caught by Ali for 114. That wicket exposed the tail and Sam Curran along with James Anderson were able to clean up and provide the retiring Alastair Cook with the perfect send-off.
Here is how the Twitter world reacted to England’s victory:
Congratulations, @englandcricket on winning the Test series. #AlastairCook, wishing you an even better post-retirement innings. #SamCurran has been the standout player of this series. Smart thinker. #ENGvIND pic.twitter.com/gy4Aqg3onT
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) September 12, 2018
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) September 11, 2018
It will be a case of what could have been for India. Few positives on the tour but we lacked in consistency and have a fair bit of work to do to become a good travelling team. Congratulations to England on the win.
— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) September 11, 2018
A test match which had many moments worth remembering for a long time. Alastair Cook scoring a century in his last test, Pant scoring his first, Rahul scoring a brilliant 149 & Jimmy Anderson becoming the highest wicket taker amongst fast bowlers. Congratulations Eng on the win.
— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) September 11, 2018
— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) September 11, 2018
Congratulations England on the 4-1 series win. India were good in patches,but not consistent enough with the bat. Pant & Rahul’s display on last day was very heartening, so were Kohli’s & the bowlers consistency throughout .Need to work a lot to travel better.Ab MissionAustralia
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) September 11, 2018
A disappointing result for Team India but I've been highly impressed by how this unit has bowled especially the fast bowlers. A lot of positives for them but the bastmen really need to work hard to give a tough fight to Australia at their den. Congratulations to England! #ENGvIND
— R P Singh (@rpsingh) September 11, 2018
Couldn’t have been….should’ve been. Second consecutive overseas tour ends with the same feeling. Indian fast bowlers are world class. Kohli is the best batsman in the world. Some work left in other areas to become the best Test side in the world. #EngvInd
— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) September 11, 2018
Congratulations to the chef #alistaircook on a wonderful cricketing journey. Wishing him all the luck for the future
— Irfan Pathan (@IrfanPathan) September 11, 2018
There is no room for "what if" in sport. India had their moments but the scorecards say 4-1 and India weren't as good as they should have been. This is two overseas disappointments in a row now.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) September 11, 2018
Congrats and very well done jimmy I am sure glen will be happy
— Courtney A Walsh (@CuddyWalsh) September 11, 2018
Last time India won an away Test match while batting second was in August 2010 when they defeated Sri Lanka by five wickets during a 257-run chase.
All the 12 away Test wins in this period for India have been while batting first. #ENGvIND
— Sampath Bandarupalli (@SampathStats) September 11, 2018
That turned a country mile! 😱
— ICC (@ICC) September 11, 2018
— The Cricket Times (@CricketTimesHQ) September 11, 2018
— Wriddhiman Saha (@Wriddhipops) September 11, 2018
Centuries by Indian openers in Tests outside Asia since 2015:
KL Rahul – 3 in 16 inns (SCG, Kingston, Oval)
All other openers – 0 in 28 inns (Just two 50s)#EngvInd
— Bharath Seervi (@SeerviBharath) September 11, 2018
India takeaways from this tour:
1. Kohli's a world class batsman
2. Time to move on from Dhawan in Tests
3. Tactics/Selections way off
4. Shastri must tone down the bravado
5. 3 seamers are top class
6. Pant for all formats
7. Harbhajan's a terrible English Commentator#ENGvIND
— Raunak Kapoor (@RaunakRK) September 11, 2018