Vijay, Kohli put India on top

Cricket One-off Test: Splendid centuries from the duo take hosts to 356 for three on opening day

Vijay, Kohli put India on top

Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara extended their love affairs with the City of Nawabs while skipper Virat Kohli continued his rampaging form as India predictably bossed Bangladesh on the opening day of the one-off Test here on Thursday.

Joining forces as early as the fifth ball of the innings after K L Rahul fell for just 2, Vijay (108, 160b, 12x4, 1x6) and Pujara (83, 177b, 9x4) forged a 178-run partnership to negate the early damage and lay a strong foundation for the hosts at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium. Kohli, in a mood from the outset, then hammered an unbeaten 111 (141b, 12x4) as India reached 356/3 at stumps, handing Bangladesh a brutal lesson on their first day of Test cricket in India.

After calling it right with the coin for the first time in four Tests, Kohli had no hesitation in electing to bat on a wicket that had appreciable bounce and looked good for batting initially. However, even before he could settle down in the dressing room, he had to see the back of Rahul after the Karnataka batsman dragged a Taskin Ahmed pitched-up ball onto his stumps.

Bangladesh got the start they would have dreamt of and they tried to make the most of it. The 21-year-old Taskin and Kamrul Islam, aged 25, bowled with plenty of heart in the hope of causing further damage. While Taskin, clocking consistently in higher 140 kmph, mixed the full lengths with well directed shorter deliveries, Kamrul nagged both Vijay and Pujara with his slinging action.

Vijay and Pujara, the pillars of the top-order with four century stands in this home season prior to this game, however, were game for the fight. Extremely strong defensively, they allowed Bangladesh to dominate them and patiently countered all of it. Barring a terrible mix-up in the 19th over when both of them were caught stranded at the same end and Mehedi Hasan failed to collect the ball, Vijay and Pujara batted with a lot of gumption.

After doing all the hard work, they started to play some lovely shots as runs came at a brisk pace. Showing good footwork, they never allowed the spinners Mehedi, Shakib al Hasan and Taijul Islam to settle into any sort of rhythm. The spinners, who did nothing much wrong on a wicket where the ball came on nicely, were simply undone by the brilliance of Vijay and Pujara, who had scored 167 and 204 respectively at this venue in their previous visit.

It looked like both would go on to match those deeds but Pujara fell against the run of play, edging a Mehedi ball to Mushfiqur. Vijay though wasn’t going to miss out on his chance. Stuck on 98 at tea, the 32-year-old brought up his ninth Test century soon after resumption with a back-foot square drive. Looking set for a big one, Vijay, however threw it all away with his first false shot of the day. Trying to sweep the left-arm Taijul, Vijay went far too across and the ball crashed onto his stumps.

Skipper Kohli, who smashed the first ball he faced to the boundary and looked in great comfort thereafter, and Ajinkya Rahane then ensured there weren't any more slip-ups as India stamped their authority in style. Kohli, against whom Bangladesh asked for a DRS despite the ball hitting the middle of his bat, hardly put a foot wrong in his innings. Driving, cutting and pulling with gay abandon, he outclassed a clueless Bangladesh with his sheer brilliance. Even with stumps beckoning, Kohli didn't calm down but pressed the accelerator so hard it looked like he was finishing the innings of a limited overs game. He second fifty came in 60 balls as 65 runs were scored in the last nine overs when new ball was taken. That allowed Ajinkya Rahane (45), coming back into the team after an injury and somewhat struggling for form in the recent past, to bat freely and confidently. The skipper and deputy remained unseparated at the end, putting India in total command.

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