IND vs SL: Kohli keeps scoring; Sharma joins the run fest

Virat Kohli (213), Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara helped India double its overnight score to 610 to help India declare with a lead of over 400 runs.

PURE JOY: Virat Kohli is elated after scoring a double century against Sri Lanka.   -  Vivek Bendre

The value of a single was given primacy by Virat Kohli while cracking his fifth double century in the presence of the biggest holiday turnout at the VCA Stadium at Jamtha on Sunday.

Full scorecard and ball-by-ball details

He ran 102 singles largely in the company of the other two century makers — Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma — on his way to a polished and calculated 213, made in a little over six and a half hours of occupation of the crease.

Ajinkya Rahane’s woes continued, but on the third day of the Test, the home team was on the rise, nearly doubling the overnight score to 610 for six wickets. Kohli decided to declare the innings when Sharma punched medium pacer Dasun Shanaka off the backfoot, and announced his return to Test cricket after more than thirteen months with a stroke-filled unconquered century.    
 
Kohli's terrific skills

 

A significant period India’s innings, especially after the departure of Pujara before lunch, revolved around the terrific skills and attitude demonstrated by Kohli. He had already exacted heavy penalty on the Sri Lankan attack with three centuries scored at a reasonably quick time and moderate number of balls, but on Sunday, Kohli batted with a fixity of purpose to boost his team’s chances of  heading for Kotla Test 1-0 up, without batting for the second time here. There were his trademark shots either side of the wicket.

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The stalemate after the Suranga Lakmal-shaped first innings skirmish at the Eden Gardens had left the team somewhat disappointed, but given the opportunity by the bowlers on the first day here, when Sri Lanka was skittled out for a paltry score, Kohli and most of his leading batsmen rose to the occasion to virtually bring their team nearer to the doorstep of victory.

In arrears by 405 runs, Sri Lanka lost of the wicket of Sadeera Samarawickrama, not offering a shot to Ishant Sharma.

The waiting game

M. Vijay and Pujara had put India in a commanding situation, but much against the trend of going after the Sri Lankan spinners in the last session on the second day, Pujara and Kohli — for a change in the first session on the third day — chose to play the waiting game (Kohli did not score of 132 balls), judge the behaviour of the pitch and play the ball on merit.

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They sustained the run-rate at a little over three an over, with Pujara playing the ideal foil to his captain, and it came as a surprise when Pujara put an end to his 502-minute tenure in the middle by playing all over a Dasun Shanaka delivery, to be bowled. The second stand produced 183 runs off 296 balls and it was in this phase of the match that Sri Lanka flagged with the lead nearing 200 runs.
 
Rahane, who had a forgettable opening Test, did not score in the ten minutes he was in the middle before Lunch, struggled to find his feet after the break and was upset when he cut straight into the hands of the man at point. After a successful outing in the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle, and following it up with a 132 at the SSC, Colombo, there is no threat to his place in the Indian team for the South Africa tour; he’s also the vice-captain.

Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma shared an emphatic 173-run partnership to take the match away from Sri Lanka's grasp.   -  Vivek Bendre

 

Classy Sharma

But his misfortune gave a chance for Rohit Sharma to play his natural game, a wide range of classy shots scattering the Sri Lankan bowlers to all parts of field, and over the straight boundary line twice.

He began with an exquisite drive through forward of point to the fence and went on to hit seven more boundary shots, lifting off spinner Dilruwan Perera for two sixes.

The combined aggression of Kohli and Rohit saw India add 103 runs in the second session. The Kohli-Rohit Sharma stand was the most attractive in its compilation of 173 runs, eventually helping India to lead by over 400 runs.