CHENNAI: Karun Nair stood on the verge of his maiden test double century, while Ravichandran Ashwin enhanced his batting reputation with his fourth fifty of the series as India took charge of the fifth and final test against England on Monday. Nair was batting on 195 at tea, his first test ton, while Ashwin was on 54 as India, who have already wrapped up the series with a match to spare, reached a commanding 582 for five at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Resuming on 391 for four, India lost Murali Vijay for 29 in the morning but the unbeaten 147-run partnership between Nair and Ashwin claimed a significant lead over England’s first innings total of 477. Vijay, when on 21, was lucky not to be given caught behind off Stuart Broad, but was unable to capitalise on the reprieve and became debutant Liam Dawson’s first victim. The regular opener, batting down the order following a shoulder injury, reviewed the leg-before decision but could not get it overturned. Nair was at the other end when Lokesh Rahul, with whom he raised a match-high 161 runs for the fourth wicket, fell agonisingly short of his double century on Sunday by playing a rash shot when one run away from the milestone.
Nair has looked more stolid in his approach, even though his unbeaten 303-ball knock was far from flawless. Dropped on 34 by England captain Alastair Cook on Sunday, Nair enjoyed another slice of luck when he hung out his bat trying to leave a short Broad delivery, the deflection running past slip to the boundary. He looked more in control when he stepped out to hit Dawson for a six and reached triple figures by slicing Ben Stokes for a boundary. Stokes bowled with lots of hostility, generating reverse swing from an otherwise flat track, and claimed a chip off Nair’s bat with a short delivery while nearly having him caught at mid-off with another. Nair hit 22 boundaries in his patient knock. Ashwin hit a six off Moeen Ali to put India in the lead and went on to register his 10th test fifty which also included five boundaries.