Nair triple ton puts India in command against England

CHENNAI: India’s Karun Nair plays a shot during the fourth day of the fifth and final Test cricket match between India and England at The M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai yesterday. Karun Nair smashed an unbeaten 303 as India declared their first innings on 759 for seven on day four of the fifth and final Test against England. —AFP

CHENNAI:  Karun Nair’s scintillating triple century yesterday put India in command of the final Test as England faced the uphill task of surviving on a fifth day wicket in Chennai.  Right-handed Nair, who finished on 303 not out, reached the landmark with a boundary before India declared their first innings on 759-7, their highest ever Test score.

India amassed a lead of 282 runs while England ended the day on 12 without loss, with skipper Alastair Cook (three) and Keaton Jennings (nine) at the crease.

“We are 3-0 up (in the five-match series), so I think they are, you know, already out of the game,” an ecstatic Nair told reporters after his epic knock.  “It (pitch) is slowly deteriorating. And there are footmarks there so I think we just have to bowl well and get the wickets. Good bowling does get you wickets on any surface,” said Nair.

Nair, 25, was playing in just the third Test match of his career. He recorded his maiden century in the morning session before expertly converting it into a double and then a triple in the evening.

He became only the third batsman to covert a maiden Test hundred into a triple century, joining the elite company of West Indies’ Garry Sobers (365 not out) and Australia’s Bob Simpson (311).

Nair’s knock came off 381 balls and was laced with 32 fours and four sixes.  He reached the feat with a cut shot off Adil Rashid and raised his helmet to a standing ovation.

The triple ton came a day after teammate Lokesh Rahul missed 200 by a single run after getting out to Rashid on 199 in the final moments of play on Sunday.

Nair though survived two dropped chances-on 34 on Sunday and 216 on Monday-during his marathon knock.
“After I crossed 250, the team management had certain plans of going after the bowling and declaring,” said Nair, who became India’s second triple centurion after batting great Virender Sehwag, who has hit two.  “So I think within the space of five overs I got to 280-285, that’s when I started thinking and Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) kept egging me on to not throw it away and get to 300 easily,” he added.

His 181-run sixth-wicket partnership with Ravichandran Ashwin stood out as India registered their highest-ever innings score of 759, surpassing their 726 against Sri Lanka in December 2009.

The visitors have three sessions to survive and secure a draw.  “It’s never easy when it happens, you got to give credit to the Indian team and their batters. They played extremely well. We just weren’t in the game today,” said England coach Trevor Bayliss.

However Bayliss said he was confident that his batsmen would stand up to the challenge on the final day on a good batting wicket.  “As confident as I can be. They are in a pretty good place. We have been in a tough position in the seven Tests (including two in Bangladesh) and have come out and played well the next day.

“We were out there to win this-the last couple of Test matches-so they (England players) don’t want to get on the plane with a loss,” said Bayliss. The Australian-born Bayliss also kept himself out of the England captaincy debate, saying the skipper Alastair Cook “deserves” to make his own decision. – AFP

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