Chennai: Young Karun Nair on Monday announced his arrival at the world stage with an unforgettable triple ton (303 not out) as India broke a deluge of records en route their highest ever Test total of 759 for 7 against England on the penultimate day of the fifth and final match here.
It was a day that solely belongs to the 25-year-old Karun, who become the second Indian batsman after the legendary Virender Sehwag (twice) to hit a triple hundred in Test match cricket.
During his marathon 381-ball innings, Karun hit 32 boundaries and four huge sixes as India took a huge lead of 282 runs before England finished the day at 12 for no loss.
With 90 overs remaining on the final day and a reasonably good track to bat on, England will fancy their chance of at least saving the Test.
Karun, who has been touted as one of the next big hopes in Indian cricket for his prolific scores in domestic cricket, showed just why he is highly rated.
Karun scored 232 runs in a single day and enthralled a select Chepauk crowd with shots all around the ground. The best part was his ability to use the entire 360 degree of the ground hitting his shots.
Equally adept at front and backfoot play, he was quick to use his feet against England spinners with their premier tweaker Moeen Ali returning with dismal figures of 1/190 in 41 overs while Liam Dawson (2/129) and Adil Rashid (1/153) also proved to be expensive.
Call it poetic justice, it was another identical loopy leg break from Adil Rashid -- a throwback to what he had exactly bowled to KL Rahul yesterday when the opener was on the cusp of double hundred.
Rahul was unlucky but Karun's lazy cut shot escaped a diving Alastair Cook as the entire Indian dressing room led by captain Virat Kohli gave Karun a standing ovation.
It is an irony that this chance that Karun got was a lucky one considering he was not in line for a Test debut during the series.
He was picked for the series after Rohit Sharma suffered hamstring injury.
Then a freak injury for Rahul opened the Test 'door' for Karun in Mohali where he was unfortunately run-out.
Once Rahul was fit in Mumbai, Karun was expected to sit out but this time it was Ajinkya Rahane, who was ruled out due to a finger fracture.
Karun didn't get too many there also but Rahane being ousted meant that he got another opportunity.
Those who have seen him bat in domestic cricket were always sure that he would succeed as no one Indian player has scored more runs in first-class cricket in past three seasons (total) than the stockily built Karun.
The triple hundred will surely increase positive 'problems' for Kohli and coach Anil Kumble as they will have to take a tough call once a fit Rahane is back in the scheme of things against Australia.
Karun got some good support today with Ravichandran Ashwin 967) adding 181 runs for the sixth wicket. Ashwin became the first Indian cricket, who has now scored more than 300 runs and taken in excess of 25 wickets in a series.
The 138-run seventh wicket stand with Ravindra Jadeja (51) also enabled Karun to carry on with his attacking mode.
All his four sixes were a treat. Against left-armer Dawson, he stepped out to loft straight. A rising delivery from Stuart Broad (2/80) was given the ramp shot treatment.
Offie Moeen was hit over long-on while a Rashid half-tracker was deposited into the stands.
Resuming at the overnight score of 391-4, Nair and Murali Vijay (29) found the going a bit tough against the duo of Dawson and Stuart Broad.
While Dawson bothered Vijay with his slow deliveries, Broad almost had his man when he induced a slight nick off the Tamil Nadu batsman but umpire Simon Fry felt otherwise and England didn't have any reviews left.
In the next over, Nair blasted Dawson for his first six over long-on, while Vijay picked up a boundary off Ben Stokes behind point in the 121st over.
One over later, Nair sliced Stokes behind point to pick up another boundary and along with it, his maiden Test century. He celebrated the achievement by raising his bat.
Vijay's fall in the 124th over brought Ashwin to the crease and after a few overs, Nair once again repeated his treatment to Stokes, picking up successive boundaries off the bowler to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Ashwin picked up his first boundary when he late cut a Dawson delivery behind point.
Just before lunch, Adil Rashid was introduced into the attack and Nair hit him through extra cover as India took lunch after the 135th over.
The 25-year-old Nair hit 11 fours and a six as he completed his maiden Test hundred in 217 balls.
Vijay (29), who had come down the order at No. 6, was the only batsman dismissed in the pre-lunch session as Liam Dawson picked up his maiden wicket in the 124th over after trapping him in-front of wicket.
For the England team, it will be a series that their bowlers would like to forget in a hurry.
Their premier spinners conceded in excess of 150 plus runs and the pacers did not have anything to look forward to on a docile track.
While the batsmen made merry, one can always debate whether skipper Kohli could have declared a bit earlier than allowing Karun to reach his triple ton on the day.
Bowling on this placid track is a big challenge and all eyes will be on local boy Ashwin as he requires only two more wickets to complete the fastest 250 wickets in the history of Test cricket.
The burly Tamil Nadu tweaker would ideally like to complete the landmark and not wait till the next Test series against Australia.
Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma may come into play if there is some reverse swing on offer for the bowlers which hasn't exactly been the case during the last four days.
The England team feels that the old SG Test does not reverse as much as they would have liked and mere hit-the-deck bowling may not be that useful on this track.