Kohli shines on smog-marred day

Indian skipper Virat Kohli struck a mammoth 243, his second double century in as many games, to lead India to 536/7 (dec) while Sri Lanka put up 131/3 in response, on a smog-marred day.

Indian Skipper Virat Kohli celebrates after scoring a spectacular double century at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Sunday.   -  R. V. Moorthy

Sri Lankan cricketers in masks reflected the state of cricket in the tiny island. It is in need of immediate remedial measures to recover from a state of inertia. The one attempted on Sunday afternoon, however, was a temporary solution to counter the playing conditions at the Ferozeshah Kotla against an Indian team, which had no issues of breathing or sighting and continued to dominate the third Test.

Virat Kohli’s career-best knock of 243 was overshadowed by Sri Lanka’s methods of protesting against the existent air quality in the Capital. The Lankans were fine in the first session but most of their players opted to wear masks as the game was interrupted thrice for a period of 17, four and five minutes each.

Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Tempers flared in either camp, coaches Ravi Shastri and Nic Pothas joined the debate on the field with umpires Nigel Long and Joel Wilson, and eventually India declared.

India’s total of 536 for seven was imposing enough for the troubled Sri Lanka. The response was expectedly shaky and the visitor was reduced to 131 for three, fortunate not to have lost more wickets in a day dominated by India.

The turn out, one of the best for a Test at Kotla in recent times, did not appreciate the Sri Lankan tactics and greeted the openers with jeers. A first-ball wicket for Mohammad Shami set up an intriguing session as a miffed India looked to strangle the opposition after the batsmen had flattened the Sri Lankan bowling.

Sri Lankan players were seen wearing masks due to the poor air quality at Delhi's Ferozeshah Kotla stadium on Sunday.   -  R. V. Moorthy

 

Sri Lanka was within its rights to complaint against the poor air quality. Even an Indian member of the team was spotted wearing the mask but what stood out sorely was the jubilant reaction of some of the Sri Lanka players when Kohli called the batsmen in. Sri Lanka had obviously succeeded in gamesmanship of extracting a declaration from India.

When India resumed at 371 for four, the turn out, one of the best in recent times, expected Virat Kohli to herald his maiden triple century. He took off from his overnight score of 156 in the company of Rohit Sharma and Sri Lanka’s misery multiplied with every passing over. Kohli was in supreme control of the situation.

Kohli is truly a milestones man with an indefatigable spirit to set new benchmarks. His sixth double century, within 18 months of hitting his first, was yet another statement highlighting his fitness and endurance to excel at the crease. He paced his innings to perfection and should have reached his triple century but for the interruptions that impacted his concentration.

Virat Kohli scored a majority of his runs on the the leg side during his mammoth innings of 243.

 

The ease with which Kohli, and to a lesser extent Rohit, compiled runs against an attack which lacked self belief, only exposed the brittle Sri Lankan spirit. Kohli’s assault demoralised the bowlers and set up a strong platform for India to thrive on.

Even as he selflessly sprinted for ones and twos for his partner, Kohli was only adding to his onerous task. He did not believe in preserving his strength for personal feats and was too happy to help Rohit swell his score. He once needed treatment for his back but Kohli did not go for the big shots which would have helped him conserve energy. His dismissal, to a ball which ripped in and hit on the back pad, was an uncharacteristic error of judgment.

Kohli’s dismissal hastened India’s declaration once the home team realised the Sri Lankans were playing within the rules and getting away with delaying tactics. Shami’s strike with the first ball and a wicket each for Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja once again underlined the difference between the teams in this series.

Angelo Mathews and Dinesb Chandimal have put up a partnership of 56 and will have to score plenty more to bring the Sri Lankan side back into the tie.

 

Angelo Mathews, unbeaten on 57, missed more than he played as Ishant gave him a harrowing time. Late in the day he clouted Ravichandran Ashwin for two sixes and saw the session through in Dinesh Chandimal’s company. A long day awaits Sri Lanka as India would look to carry on the good work on the third day too.

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