India lost the fifth and final Test against England by 118 runs here Tuesday despite heroic resistance from KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant, bringing the curtains down on a tour which started as a golden opportunity but ended in a saga of disappointments. A mediocre England team with a fragile batting line-up won the series by a comprehensive 4-1 margin after India were bowled out for 345 in pursuit of a mammoth target of 464. Making amends for a below-par show in the preceding Tests, Rahul (149) and Pant (114) sang the redemption song with attractive centuries to raise visions of an improbable victory before Adil Rashid (2/63) dashed their hopes with a twin blow. Rashid bowled a prodigious leg-break that pitched on the rough and clipped Rahul’s off-bail and in his next over Pant tried to hoick him for his fifth six only to be holed out by Moeen Ali.
Once the 204-run sixth wicket stand ended, India tried to hang on for a respectable draw but it was of no avail. Root took the second new ball and his new ‘Go To’ Man Sam Curran (2/23) promptly delivered by polishing off the tail with Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja being removed in quick succession. Fittingly, it was England’s senior-most bowler Jimmy Anderson (3/45), who castled Mohammed Shami to end the match and also surpass Glenn McGrath as the highest wicket-taking pacer in Test match history. It couldn’t have been a more emotional farewell for Alastair Cook as he led the team off the ground amidst a thunderous standing ovation from a knowledgeable Oval crowd. However, there were a couple of times when it looked that India could at least earn a respectable draw if not a win. Rahul batted in a cavalier fashion for the first time in the series as he added 118 runs with Ajinkya Rahane on a flat batting deck at the Oval. Rahane (37)’s indiscreet sweep shot followed by Hanuma Vihari’s (0) dismissal saw India reduced to 121 for 5 before the completion of the game changed once again. Rahul was at his elegant best driving and cutting with a lot of ferocity including a slapped six over extra cover of Ben Stokes and four off the bowler to complete his fifth Test hundred.