IND vs SL: Sri Lanka earns a draw despite Kohli ton

Indian skipper Virat Kohli struck a brilliant 104* to set Sri Lanka a target of 231, but the visiting side survived an onslaught from the Indian pacers as bad light reduced play and the test ended in a draw.

Indian and Sri Lankan players walk off the pitch after bad light stopped play on the final day of the first Test, ending the match in a draw.   -  AP

Miracles are not uncommon at the Eden Gardens. On a day of Hitchcockian twists, another one of them also happened here on Monday.

As many as four slips and a gully stood in the cordon, the fired-up Indian pacemen steamed in and the Sri Lankan batsmen appeared under a siege mentally. Wickets fell and there was mayhem in the stands. On view was drama, passion, frayed tempers and gamesmanship. What a day!  

Score card and ball by ball details

An animated Virat Kohli, his fists clenched, egged his seamers on for one decisive burst, his counterpart Dinesh Chandimal threw his hands up in frustration over play continuing under fading light.  

When bad light ended this extraordinary rain-affected first Test, Sri Lanka, set a target of 231 in a maximum of  47 overs, was hanging on a slim thread at 75 for seven. As many as 20.3 overs remained when the players shook hands.

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Earlier, Kohli’s 119-ball unbeaten 104 powered India to 352 for eight; the innings set a platform for the final surge. This was Kohli’s 18 Test and 50 international century.

Then Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, inspired and hunting as a pair, bowled a compelling off-stump line, generated speed, moved it both ways. Under immense pressure, the Sri Lankan openers’ feet were not moving. Sadeera Samarawickrama and Dimuth Karunaratne played on to Bhuvneahwar and Shami.

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The Indian pacemen had smelt blood. Bhuvneshwar, from round the wicket, had Lahiru Thirimanne snapped up in the cordon with away movement. Umesh Yadav brought one back into Angelo Mathews, the umpire disagreed with the appeal, but Kohli went for what turned out to be a brilliant review.

Things went on to get heated up in the middle. Shami, angered by what he thought was time wasting tactics by Niroshan Dickwella, walked down the pitch and exchanged words with the Sri Lankan, which was followed by the umpires having a word with the batsmen and Kohli.

Things continued to happen. Dickwella survived even as the Indians celebrated, replays eventually showing the ball bouncing just in front of Wriddhiman Saha’s gloves after he edged Bhuvneshwar.

To keep the tension alive on a gut-wrenching day, Shami unleashed a fast vicious inswinger that rearranged the fighting Chandimal’s stumps.

Bhuvneshwar then trapped the left-handed Dickwella leg-before and bowled Dilruwan Perera with a lovely incoming delivery. Sri Lanka was on the brink before the lack of light bailed the visitor out.

Kohli carnage

Earlier, Kohli’s landmark century was as much about heart as ability; a skipper shouldering responsibility. Standing outside the crease to counter the movement, the Indian captain survived some anxious moments early on but grew in confidence.

Kohli’s back-lift is not high but he can generate enormous power with his bat-speed and dexterous wrists. Add to all this his footwork – this innings was lit up by cover and straight drives - and you get a world beating package.

It’s hard to set a field for Kohli when he runs into form. Paceman Lahiru Gamage was picked from off and whipped past the vacant mid-wicket area.  And when going for quick runs, unmindful of his own hundred, for a declaration, Kohli bludgeoned Lakmal over cover for the maximum and then smoked the Sri Lankan over wide-long-off ropes to soar over the three-figure mark.

And to think that India was under stress at 213 for four in the morning – Sri Lanka must have had a sniff then – before Kohli, first took his side to safety, and then upped the tempo.

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The tall and rhythmic Suranga Lakmal, extracting bounce with his high-arm action, had exploited the moisture on the surface in the morning, mixing the away going delivery with one that nipped back.

The Sri Lankan cleaned up K.L. Rahul (79) with a fuller length ball that deviated in, took out Cheteshwar Pujara with a brutish delivery that got big on the batsman and flew off the bat handle to a diving Dilruwan Perera at gully, and sent back Ajinkya Rahane with a sharp in-dipper.

India was in trouble but the game changed shades. When the dust settled, Test cricket was the winner.