Sports Cricket 03 Dec 2017 Ind cvs SL: Murali V ...

Ind cvs SL: Murali Vijay rocks, Virat Kohli rolls on

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | RAHUL BANERJI
Published Dec 3, 2017, 12:31 am IST
Updated Dec 3, 2017, 12:31 am IST
Opener Vijay and skipper Kohli slam tons to compile an epic 283-run stand for 3rd wicket as India cruise to 371/4 on 1st day of Kotla Test.
Murali Vijay celebrates his century with a jig. (Photo: AP)
 Murali Vijay celebrates his century with a jig. (Photo: AP)

New Delhi: Early use of spin and defensive fields after winning the toss — and conceding a mountain of runs — was Sri Lanka’s fate on the opening day of the third and final Test against India at the Kotla here on Saturday. It was only late in the evening, with 24 deliveries left to go that fortune smiled on them as left-arm leg-spinner Lakshan Sandakan struck twice to peg India back to 371/4 in the day’s 90 overs.

After Virat Kohli opted to bat, the visitors were given an early glimmer of hope with the wickets of opener Shikhar Dhawan and one-drop Cheteshwar Pujara. As they have shown though, India have more than one or two arrows in the quiver and a massive 283-run third wicket partnership between the captain and Murali Vijay that followed all but shut the door on Dinesh Chandimal and his men in this game.

 

Kohli came to the wicket with a plan and his brisk scoring quickly dispelled any pressure the Sri Lankans sought to create. Hitting cleanly off front foot and back on either side of the wicket, Kohli brought up his first half-century off just 52 deliveries that had 10 boundaries in the course of which he also crossed the 5,000 Test runs in this, his 63rd five-day game.

Chandimal changed his five bowlers around, bringing on off-spinner Dilruwan Perera as early as in the eighth over. It paid off as Dhawan flat-swept a delivery on his pads straight to fast bowler Suranga Lakmal who made a meal of the catch, tripping, losing his boot and falling over, but managing to hold on to the ball.

 

It was the 35-year-old Perera’s 100th Test wicket and came in his 25th game, making him the quickest Sri Lankan bowler to reach the landmark, ahead of even spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan, who needed 27 matches to do the same.
Dhawan (23, 35b, 4x4) and Vijay had got the innings off to a brisk start, the first 10 runs producing 40-plus runs. The Sri Lankans were further cheered when an uncharacterically brisk Pujara (23, 39b, 4x4) tickled new ball bowler Lahiru Gamage into the hands of the specially stationed Sadeera Samarawickrama at leg slip in the 21st over. That was however, the last bit of good news to come their way for a long time.

 

Kohli, who reached his 20th Test century and the third in a row of the series, and Vijay consolidated steadily, but always with an eye on the scoring rate that never dropped below four runs per over though the day. They looked good to take India through unbeaten to close of play but a late lapse of concentration ended the partnership when Vijay (153, 267b, 13x4) was beaten off the pitch by Chinaman bowler Sandakan and had his right foot on — and not behind — the crease as Niroshan Dickwella competed a smart stumping.

As Vijay trudged off in dispirited fashion, he would have known this had been a golden opportunity to improve on his Test-best of 167, but it was still his 11th hundred in this format and he had helped his captain carry the side to a near-unassailable position.

 

Sandakan was to hand the unfortunate Ajinka Rahane (1, 5b) a further setback, dragging him out of the crease in almost identical fashion to Vijay, with the same result as Dickwella was once again well stationed to effect the stumping.

It left the team management — and selectors — with something of a headache as this was probably Rahane’s last opportunity in this series to make a statement with a significant score. Instead, he was left marooned, unable to even reach 10 runs in four completed innings in these three Test matches.

 

Kohli though marched on steadily and at an elegant 156 (185b, 16x4), he looks set to press home India's advantage so well-crafted through the day till the infamous Kotla curse of wickets in a day’s final session struck at the hosts with a vengeance.

Rohit Sharma (6, 14b, 1x4) though is alongside his captain and with the two coming off a handsome 173-run association for the fifth wicket at Nagpur, the home side will look to them to make sure they do not need to bat again at the Kotla in his match.

Scorecard

India (1st innings): M. Vijay st Dickwella b Sandakan 155, Shikhar Dhawan c Lakmal b Perera 23, Cheteshwar Pujara c Sadeera b Gamage 23, Virat Kohli (batting) 156, Ajinkya Rahane st Dickwella b Sandakan 1, Rohit Sharma (batting) 6. Extras (lb1, nb6) 7. Total (for four wickets in 90 overs) 371.
FoW: 1-42, 2-78, 3-361, 4-365.
Bowling: Lakmal 14-2-50-0, Gamage 17-6-68-1, Perera 21-0-97-1, Sandakan 23-1-110-2, Dhananjaya 15-0-45-0.

 

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