KL Rahul cut a dejected figure after becoming the ninth batsman in Test history to be out for 199, but he still had more to smile about than England at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Rahul defied the tourists for more than seven-and-a half hours, hitting 16 fours and three sixes from 311 balls, only to contrive a poke into the hands of square-cover from the widest of Adil Rashid leg-breaks and fall agonisingly short of a maiden Test double-century.
If the India opener felt the pain, head in hands and on his haunches as he came to terms with what he had done, he could be sure he had inflicted plenty more on England as the hosts racked up 331 runs in three sessions to close on 391 for four in reply to 477.
When Ben Stokes was asked what Alastair Cook’s team could take from the graft Rahul had imposed on them for almost the entire day, he paused for a moment before coming up with “a bit of sunburn probably”.
For Rahul, there were mixed feelings of course but also the knowledge that he had batted supremely until his one costly mistake – and, with the help of Parthiv Patel (71) and then Karun Nair (71no), in stands of 152 for the first wicket and 162 for the fourth, put India on course for a likely first-innings lead in the final match of a series they already have wrapped up.
Still, it was the one run he did not get which dominated his close-of-play press conference.
“I was so excited about that one run I forgot to take my time,” he said. “I felt I rushed into the shot.”
The delivery from Rashid was one any self-respecting Test batsman would have simply left alone 99 times out of a hundred.
“It’s more disappointing to get out to a ball like that – it hurts even more,” added Rahul.
“I played positively – everything was going my way, everything off the middle of the bat, and the chances I took came off.
“It was just unfortunate that the pressure of getting a double-hundred got to me.
“I am happy at the end of the day – 199 has helped my team – but missing out on a double hurts.”
The consolations were obvious, especially such an important stand with his lifelong friend and team-mate Nair – who was making his maiden Test 50.
Even so, the near miss still haunted Rahul. “I was really disappointed, because 200 is a big landmark for any batsman,” he said.
“I don’t chase milestones, but getting a double would have been a proud moment.
“I am gutted to miss out. But I have to be grateful I got a hundred.”
England have spent the whole series trying in vain to get India captain Virat Kohli out cheaply – and on the one occasion they managed it, Stuart Broad having him caught at cover for 15, their frustration was that another India batsman instead made a huge score.
Stokes said: “We tried a lot – but sometimes you’ve got to hold your hands up say they played really, really well.
“Maybe we didn’t get the rewards we deserved.
“We changed fields, came around the wicket, over the wicket with the spin and Broady ended up getting Kohli with a good bit of planned bowling.”
England must feel resigned to the fact that one Indian at least will prove their stumbling block.
“In every game they’ve had someone go on and make a difference with a big score,” added Stokes.
“It’s nice to see the back of Kohli, but unfortunately they had someone else there who managed to get in for them.”