India vs England, 5th Test: Karun Nair-Murali Vijay stand key for India's chances of taking lead

Barring a heartbreak and a shock, it turned out to be a great day at the office for the Indians on Day 3 of the fifth Test against England in Chennai.

After enduring a disappointing couple of days with the ball, the Indian team partially made up for it with their batting efforts, although the match seems like heading for a draw as per current progress. (However, the turnaround in Wankhede is one that the Englishmen are not likely to forget.)

 India vs England, 5th Test: Karun Nair-Murali Vijay stand key for Indias chances of taking lead

Karun Nair plays a shot during the Chennai Test. Reuters

It was a day when KL Rahul marked his return to the dominating ways with the bat that had made him a force to reckon with, and one that stamped his authority as first-choice Indian Test opener in particular. Having been plagued by injuries in recent times — which forced him to miss out on two games in the New Zealand Test series — as well as three matches in the current series, he could not have made a comeback in better fashion.

Disappointing as it might be to miss out on a maiden double-ton by an agonising margin of a solitary run — making him the ninth Test batsman to be dismissed for 199, as well as the only Indian after Mohammad Azharuddin — his innings was instrumental in guiding the hosts to the position from where they look set to overtake the commanding English first innings total of 477.

The image of him collapsing in a hunch after top-edging a tossed up Adil Rashid delivery to Keaton Jennings at point is one that might haunt both Rahul as well as the Indian fans for some time, but the Karnataka batsman looked forward to getting back to the pitch with a bat in his hand, hoping to get the milestone in his next attempt.

Karun Nair, who endured a couple of disappointing knocks in his debut series, was batting solidly on 71, with opening batsman Murali Vijay (whose arrival at the crease was delayed by a shoulder niggle) for company at the other end, batting on 17.

If the hosts are to cross the English total, and build a sizeable lead, then the starting point towards accomplishing that would start from the Nair-Vijay partnership. The two have a solid task at hand if they are to resist the likes of Rashid and Moeen Ali on a Day 4 pitch, even if the conditions are friendlier for batting than what they put up with in the previous game.

The fact that their batting runs deep down the order (though they will be regretting the absence of Jayant Yadav) with the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be a great boost of hope for the hosts. However, the hosts need to get a lead of at least 100 if they are looking towards a result in this game — a 4-0 to be more specific. This further means that the scoring rate will have to be similar to the one that Rahul-Nair achieved in their partnership, where the duo reverse-swept away the spinners at regular intervals to keep the scoreboard ticking.

Updated Date: Dec 18, 2016 23:55:03 IST