India opener K L Rahul said he was determined to score big on a batsman-friendly pitch after crafting a superb 199 to guide India to a strong position at stumps on the third day of the fifth Test against England here on Sunday.
Rahul faced 311 deliveries, batted for eight-and-half hours to strike 16 fours and three sixes to guide India to a healthy 391/4 at close of play, in response to England’s first innings score of 477.
But he suffered a cruel heartbreak, getting dismissed for 199, becoming the second Indian after former skipper Mohammad Azharuddin, and ninth overall to depart on the verge of a milestone.
The 24-year-old was fluent during his knock and was judicious in his shot selection, becoming the second opener after Sunil Gavaskar to score so many runs in a Test innings against England.
Gavaskar holds the distinction of scoring most by an Indian opener (221 in 1979) — the only double-hundred by an Indian opener against England.
Rahul said injuries prevented him from becoming a permanent feature in the team and he was determined to make the most of the opportunities he got in his stop-start career so far.
“I haven’t played a lot in the last couple of months. Going in and out isn’t easy. Spending time in Bombay was good. Once I came here, this pitch was good, and I didn’t want to waste the opportunity,” said Rahul after the day’s action.
“Missed out on the whole New Zealand series. I thought I was in good form. Went back home, worked on my fitness. Played one Ranji game, that was good to get my flow. I was killing myself… I missed out in Wankhede (third Test), the wicket was very good.”
Rahul looked set to complete what would have been a well-deserved double-century. But he was over eager to complete the feat, chasing a wide delivery outside off-stump, and gave a simple catch at point. He was visibly distraught at missing the double ton and walked back slowly to the pavilion after getting out.
“This hundred will be on the top of the list. Now you understand what your coach means when he says one run will be important. I’ll always have to live with this. I played a horrible shot and got out on 199,” the Karnataka batsman said.
“I haven’t seen the videos. Just been standing under the shower. It will take some time to sink in. I thought I would get a double hundred with ease. Just have to come back stronger. I did discuss with my batting coach (on improvements).
“Knowing where my off stump is… I hadn’t played enough games, so didn’t know where my off stump was. Went back and worked on my basics and (batting coach) Sanjay Bangar said if I stayed inside the crease, I would judge the line better,” he added.