Not quite content with playing a starring role in England's series-clinching triumphs in the last few weeks, Sam Curran had it in him to deliver another puncture wound to India's hopes during the second day's play at the Oval.
After spending the entirety of the series under immense scrutiny against the moving ball, Indian opener KL Rahul adopted an aggressive approach to tackle the challenge posed by England's new-ball specialists.
Rahul's attacking route initially appeared to pay dividends as he raced to 37 from 52 deliveries. This was his highest score from nine innings in the series thus far. When the tide seemed to be changing for the elegant right-hander, he found himself on the receiving end of a truly special delivery from Curran. The unplayable ball deceived his defence to kiss the top of off-stump.
Rahul arrives all guns blazing
Having reduced England to 214/8 at the start of the second day, India's seamers finally relented and let the horse bolt out of the stable. In the company of a purposeful Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler swelled the hosts' total to 332.
Rattled by the late onslaught, India attempted to hit back through Rahul's stroke-play. Despite losing fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan early in the innings, the 26-year-old threw caution to the wind against England's in-form seam attack.
Showing intent on both front and back foot, Rahul creamed four delectable boundaries aside from unfurling a few other eye-catching shots as well. With the stoic Cheteshwar Pujara at the other end, a rare top-order partnership was starting to blossom for India.
Curran produces a moment of magic
When the 23rd over began, India were surging promisingly at 70/1. Until that point in time, Curran had largely focused on moving the ball across the two right-handers. He had then kept Rahul honest by interspersing the odd in-swinger among those deliveries.
Curran unleashed what appeared to be a in-swinger at first sight. As he has often done so far, the left-armer swung the ball from his hand and made Rahul shape up to the one coming in. However, the ball pitched just short of the fuller length and seamed away at the last instant.
Rahul, who had set his movement for the one swinging into him, was left baffled as the ball jagged away just enough to beat his defence. The ideal length as well as the late deception resulted in the ball kissing the top of off-stump.
In what could be termed as a cataclysmic duel between swing and seam, the latter triumphed to leave Rahul in utter disbelief. Although the pace was not quite as heavy as the legendary Pakistani seamer at his pomp, Curran's magical delivery managed to evoke memories of Wasim Akram employing swing and seam to outwit many an accomplished batsman during the unforgettable 1990s.Published 08 Sep 2018, 23:13 IST