Kohli, Vijay punish listless Lanka

The opening day’s play of the third and final Test had nothing contrary to the trend in this series. India, electing to bat and compiling 371 for four, was too superior against an opponent which remained clueless one session after another.

India's Murali Vijay (left) and Virat Kohli run between the wickets during their mammoth 283-run partnership for the third wicket on the first day of the third Test against Sri Lanka.   -  AFP

Century by Virat Kohli conformed to the expected norms of his performance every time he strides to the middle. Murali Vijay too joined the entertainment at the crease with a hundred. Batsmanship was so strikingly elegant that one suspected the Sri Lankan bowlers too would have secretly enjoyed the punishment.

The opening day’s play of the third and final Test had nothing contrary to the trend in this series. India, electing to bat and compiling 371 for four, was too superior against an opponent which remained clueless one session after another. Run making was a lovable exercise on a benign pitch and the process was facilitated by an embarrassingly average attack.

Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara must curse themselves for an opportunity wasted. Batting first was a compulsive step since there was no reason to fear any uncertainty from the surface or the bowlers. This pitch turned out to be a normal Ferozeshah Kotla track where patience was a virtue when looking to accumulate runs. Dhawan and Pujara ignored this aspect and fell to leg-side shots. Kohli (156 batting) and Vijay (155) backed themselves to grind the attack. And they did it untroubled by coming up with a 283-run partnership for the third wicket.

 

Poor bowling or quality batting? The debate may remain inconclusive since Kohli and Vijay followed their instincts and realised the worthiness of playing the ball in merit. If Pujara and Dhawan did not grab the chance they had none to blame. The Sri Lankans fed the batsmen plenty of innocuous deliveries and the pace at which the runs accrued only reflected the dominance that Kohli and Pujara commanded.

READ: Kohli fourth quickest Indian to 5000 Test runs

If the batsmen followed the basics of their art, the Sri Lankan bowlers came a cropper in every department. The onus obviously was on curtailing the run-flow but there was no co-ordination between the bowlers and the fielders. Huge gaps invited precise strokeplay from Kohli and Vijay and showed Sri Lanka in poor light as bowlers failed to bowl to their field. Even 22 fielders would have failed to contain the run-plunder the whole day.

Virat Kohli and Murali Vijay celebrated by performing a 'dab'.   -  AP

 

To Sri Lanka’s consternation Kohli and Vijay triggered a competition between themselves — matching each other’s shots and trying to strengthen their propensity of long tenure in the middle. To Vijay’s credit he did not bat under his illustrious partner’s shadow. He created his space and built his innings on the sound foundation of technique and shot selection.

Bulk of Virat Kohli's runs came from the leg side.

 

Kohli became the first Indian, and sixth overall, to score three centuries in a row in a three-Test series. It was his 20 Test century while Vijay crafted his 11. Not that Sri Lanka was generous in giving away runs. It was Vijay’s aggression, later accentuated by some judiciously produced strikes on either side, that stood out on a day when Kohli revelled at the other end in his own trademark fashion. In no time the two were cantering away, playing shots with the nonchalance of men in form. Sri Lanka presented a pitiable sight, frequently retrieving the ball from the boundary and overall looking out of place and out of ideas.

Murali Vijay notched his 11th Test hundred by scoring in this fashion.

 

Vijay and Kohli took little time to salvage the loss of two 'early' wickets. It was hard to comprehend the lackadaisical attitude of the Sri Lankan bowlers. They gave up too easily. The Indians hardly felt any pressure — to defend their wickets or push the scoring rate. India scored 116 runs in the first session and 129 in the next as Kohli got into his act of pulverizing the bowlers. Not a semblance of a chance came Sri Lanka’s way and the bowlers’ came to accept that they were better off trying to contain the flow of runs. It did not work. In the end, the only 'blip' in India's scorecard could be when Ajinkya Rahane’s poor run continued when he was stumped cheaply. His last five innings read 17, 4, 0, 2 and 1.

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