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Lokesh Rahul bounces back after injury, smashes fourth Test hundred

India Today logo India Today 18-12-2016
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India opener Lokesh Rahul slammed his fourth hundred on the third day of the fifth Test to lead India's strong reply to England's daunting first innings total of 477 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.

This was Rahul's first hundred in India. All his earlier three centuries have come overseas (158 in West Indies, 108 in Sri Lanka and 110 in Australia).

Resuming the day at 60/0, the makeshift opening pair of Rahul and Parthiv Patel gave India a solid start, forging a 152-run partnership on a track getting increasingly easier to bat on. Murali Vijay hurt his shoulder while fielding on Day 2 and could not come out to bat.

The stand between Rahul and Parthiv was also the first century-run opening stand for India in 32 innings. It was also the highest stand for the first wicket for India against England in India. The previous best was 135 runs by Sunil Gavaskar and Farokh Engineer in Mumbai in 1973.

Rahul hit two sixes within the first hour of play as India scored at more than four runs per over. India's 100-mark came up in the 30th over as Rahul reached his second Test half-century - and first in India - off 96 deliveries, including three fours and two sixes.

5th Test, Chennai: India vs England

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Patel reached his sixth Test half-century off 84 balls. Later, they brought up their 150-partnership off 249 balls.

The left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman was then caught at mid-wicket off Moeen Ali, as he tried to attack the bowler. Patel scored 71 runs, facing 112 balls and hitting four fours. It was Patel's highest test score, exceeding the 69 runs he scored against Pakistan in Rawalpindi in 2004.

Rahul, whose century came in 171 deliveries and was studded with two sixes and eight fours, made amends with the bat having dropped centurion Moeen Ali before he had scored on Friday.

The hundred was also a shot in the arm for the 24-year-old talented Karnataka opener, who was making a comeback from injury in Chennai.

Rahul has been in and out of the India squad after suffering a hamstring injury during the first Test against New Zealand, which ruled him out of the remaining two Tests of the three-match series which India won 3-0. Rahul's unavailability led to Gautam Gambhir's recall to the Test team after two years.

However, Rahul made a return to the team in the second Test against England in Vizag after regaining full fitness but sustained a blow to his left forearm while fielding in the same match. The injury was aggravated while he was batting in the nets in Mohali and was subsequently ruled out of the third Test in Mohali.

Rahul's absence in Mohali led to Parthiv Patel, who was making a comeback to the side after eight years, opening the batting for India.

Rahul again returned to the Indian team for the fourth Test in Mumbai.

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Rahul, who plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, is one of the vital members in the skipper Virat Kohli-led Test team. Rahul's aggressive batting, mixed with flamboyant stroke-play, has helped him gain a special place in Kohli's scheme of things.

This was the Rahul's second century of the year after his 158 against West Indies in Kingston. Rahul finished as the third-highest run-scorer in the tour, scoring 236 runs at an average of 78.66.

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