Lunch report: India struggling despite KL Rahul century
KL Rahul scored his fifth Test century. (Getty Images)

For a while, there seemed hope. Slim, but hope none the less. India’s two overnight batsmen KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane fought a battle not many expected them to. They overcame the first hour of the morning session unharmed and brought up their century stand. But if the pattern of India’s batting was any indication, it indicated nothing more than delaying the inevitable. At tea, India were 167/5, 108 of which belonged to centurion KL Rahul.

After a promising first hour of play, England struck twice in two overs to derail India’s progress. Rahul, playing his final innings of the tour, did himself some favour by scoring at a brisk rate once the two wickets fell and brought up his century, fifth overall, first in England, but perhaps the most inconsequential of his career.

He employed back-to-back reverse sweeps off Moeen Ali. Then, on 87, he took Stokes for a six and a couple of boundaries to bring up only the third century by an Indian in the series, one that India could have really done with earlier in the series. He continued from where he’d left off yesterday, playing bold and audacious shots. But how much longer can he do that?

Rahul forged just the seventh hundred partnership of the series with Rahane, who was circumspect early on. But there was absolutely nothing in the pitch. A few balls took off and beat the edges but expect those on any morning session. One over from Ben Stokes resulted in 8 leg byes, but Rahane was able to connect a couple of crunching drives off Sam Curran soon after and that seemed to have gotten him in groove.

England introduced spin through Moeen and he straightaway landed the ball in the rough. One stayed low, but Rahul survived the appeal and a review, and continued to bat positively with satisfying footwork. India were on their way to playing out a decent session when Rahane played a poor shot. He top-edged a sweep that was taken by Keaton Jennings at midwicket. Hanuma Vihari could not add to his debut and was out for a five-ball duck to Stokes. The wheels have begun to come off. How long can India survive?

Brief score: India 292 and 167/5 (KL Rahul 108*, Ajinkya Rahane 37; James Anderson 2/33) trail England 332 and 423/8 decl by 297 runs at lunch on Day 5.