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Three-ton Nair storms record books

Wisden India logo Wisden India 19-12-2016
© Reuters Image

When Karun Nair marked his guard again on the fourth morning of the Chennai Test on Monday (December 19), he had 71 to his name, from 136 balls. By the time he walked off the ground at 4.34pm, to rapturous applause from teammates and the thousands in the stands, he had become only India’s second triple-centurion. He didn’t get to overhaul Virender Sehwag’s 319 or 309, but his sublime unbeaten 303 took India to a record total of 759 for 7 declared, and left England needing to bat out the final day to avoid a 4-0 drubbing. Needing 282 just to avoid an innings defeat, they had progressed to 12 for 0 by stumps.

Nair’s maiden hundred was compiled from 185 balls, normal Test match rhythm. The next century took him only a further 121 balls. Then, with the message having come from the dressing room that India wanted some overs at the England top order before stumps, he streaked to the third hundred from just 75 balls. By then, the English bowlers and fielders were down for the count.

There was little hint of the drama to the turntable of records to come in a sedate opening session that saw just 72 scored from 27 overs. M Vijay survived a caught-behind appeal that England couldn’t review because they had none left, but couldn’t benefit as Liam Dawson trapped him in front for 29 to claim a maiden Test wicket.

Scores (Day 4): England: 477 & 12-0 against India: 759-4 decl

Dawson got some sharp turn in those initial overs, and Nair, who had seen an attempted leave to Stuart Broad race to third man off the back of the bat, decided to take him on with a confident loft over wide long-on. With Alastair Cook blocking off the off side, and Ben Stokes on to try and get some reverse swing, he had to wait for the hundred, eventually guiding one through gully for four.

Stokes gave everything in an eight-over spell. A lifter that Nair edged for four over slip took a chunk of wood out of his bat, and the next ball that was laced through the covers for four exemplified the bowlers’ travails.

Moeen Ali and Jake Ball were introduced after lunch, with Dawson having bowled 13 on the trot, and that was the spur for India to really get moving. R Ashwin had taken 15 balls to get off the mark in front of his home crowd, but when he stepped out to tonk Moeen over long-on and give India the lead, the intent was all too clear.

The slow bowlers had no margin for error against Nair. Anything full was swept or driven into the gaps. Anything pitched too short was pulled or cut away. On 154, he reverse-swept Adil Rashid into Bairstow’s gloves. Only the keeper appealed, and with no recourse to a review having used up both the previous evening, England couldn’t change the course of history.

The first hour after lunch saw 67 scored in 16 overs, and with the spinners coming in for punishment, Cook threw the ball to Keaton Jennings. Simon Fry turned down a big leg-before appeal off his very first ball, with replays suggesting that Nair (then on 183) would have survived a review on account of ‘umpire’s call’.

© Reuters Image

Tea was taken at 582 for 5, with Ashwin having successfully reviewed a leg-before decision given in favour of the luckless Jennings. What followed was little short of carnage. A peachy cover drive off Jennings took Nair to the double-hundred that had evaded his statemate 24 hours earlier, and the third new ball, taken with India on an even 600, quickly became another rod for broken English backs.

Ashwin went past 300 runs for the series, but was then brilliantly caught low to his left by Jos Buttler at a wide third slip. He had made 67 (149 balls) and the partnership was worth 181 from just 282 deliveries. Joe Root then dropped Nair on 217 off Ball – a catch to his right at slip – and when Bairstow missed a stumping off Moeen with the batsman on 246, the floodgates truly opened.

Nair lofted Moeen over wide long-on for six, and with the 700 up, took the tiring Rashid for six, four and four in the same over. At the other end, Ravindra Jadeja swashed and buckled his way to a 52-ball half-century with the aid of some meaty pulls and clever deflections.

By the time Jadeja launched one to Ball in the deep, the partnership was worth an astonishing 138 off 115 balls. Nair, his focus never wavering, wasn’t to be denied, though. A cut for four off Rashid took him where only two others – Sir Garfield Sobers (365) and Bob Simpson (311) – had gone while scoring their maiden century. In 25.4 overs after tea, India had clattered 177 – a symphony of batting destruction.

It was the highest total England had ever conceded, beating the 751 for 5 West Indies made when Brian Lara made 400. It was also, by a distance, India’s biggest Test score, putting in the shade the 726 for 9 declared against Sri Lanka at Brabourne Stadium in 2009.

Less than a week ago, England made 400 batting first in Mumbai and managed to lose the Test by an innings. They will need to bat out of their skins on the final day to ensure that recent history doesn’t repeat itself. It will be a tall order for some very weary bodies.

Slideshow: Karun Nair turns run machine in Chennai

India vs England: Karun Nair turns run machine in Chennai: Karun Nair, in for injured Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma, announced his arrival at the international level with an unforgettable triple ton as India broke a deluge of records en route their highest ever Test total of 759 for 7 against England on the penultimate day of the fifth and final match. It left England, starting their second innings with a deficit of 282. Karun Nair turns run machine in Chennai

Watch: 'After reaching century mark, I felt no pressure'

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