England vs India 2018: Adil Rashid's magical two-wicket spell is SK Turning Point of 5th Test
From a seemingly hopeless position of 121/5, India threatened to rewrite the history books during a brief phase in the final day's play at the Oval. KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant scored scintillating centuries to revert a considerable amount of pressure on England.
However, chasing lofty targets in the fourth innings have usually ended up resulting in rather agonising defeats for the batting team. As has often been the case in Test cricket, it took just one breakthrough to bring the entire pursuit to a hastening conclusion.
Derided for his minimal contributions to the hosts' cause in the series thus far, Adil Rashid showed the value of wrist-spin by sparking India's collapse. The leg-spinner removed Rahul and Pant in successive overs to clear the path for England's convincing triumph.
Rahul and Pant raise thoughts of the improbable
Combining together in the closing moments of the pre-lunch session, Rahul and Pant batted splendidly to give a genuine scare to England. Realising that the situation was set-up for a counterattack, both batsmen were never shy of taking the aerial route.
Pant, in particular, played a number of audacious shots to entertain the strong crowd. The ease with which he utilised the crease prevented Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid from settling into the ideal lengths.
At the beginning of the final session, Rahul and Pant took their remarkable partnership past the 200-run mark. While the elegant right-hander was inching close to 150, the southpaw did not curb his attacking instincts either before or after his maiden Test century.
Rashid breaks open the door for England
Although the second new-ball was available, England continued with the older one in order to show faith on their spinners. The decision reaped rich rewards as Rashid used the rough outside the right-hander's leg-stump to produce the decisive breakthroughs.
In what was a magical delivery which the legendary Shane Warne would have been immensely proud of, Rashid summoned the leg-spinner's wizardry to castle the well-set Rahul. Pitching the ball way outside the leg-stump, he extracted staggering turn from the rough area and somehow managed to hit the top of off-stump.
Expecting manageable turn, Rahul had stayed on the back foot with the aim of dead-batting the leg-break. However, the vicious turn meant that he had no chance whatsoever. It took a special ball to end the opener's impressive vigil at the crease.
In his very next over, Rashid deceived Pant with a well-disguised googly. After getting back on strike, the left-hander took a chance yet again and went for another almighty heave. But he perished this time around as the combination of the variation and the arid area outside his off-stump resulted in a sliced slog. Moeen Ali completed the catch at the long-off boundary.
With the dismissal of Pant for a momentous 146-ball 114, India's last flicker of hope was extinguished. Despite his steadfast attempts at defence, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja eventually succumbed to the vagaries of the second new ball. Fittingly, spearhead James Anderson's record-breaking scalp brought the match and series to a conclusion.