Kohli doubles India's delight

Kohli doubles India's delight
The imperious Virat Kohli added another star to his glistening badge and Wriddhiman Saha made his return from injury in memorable fashion as India buried a hapless Bangladesh under an avalanche of runs on a record-shattering day here on Friday.

Taking off from where he had left the previous evening, skipper Kohli smashed an easy on the eye 204 (246b, 24x4) to surpass greats Don Bradman and Rahul Dravid and become the first cricketer to hammer double tons in four successive series.

Saha, who missed the last three Tests against England due to injury, then made Bangladesh pay dearly for a missed stumping when he was on four, blasting an unbeaten 106 (155b, 7x4, 2x6) as India declared their innings at 687/6 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium. In the process India also became the first team to score 600-plus runs in three consecutive Test innings.

Bangladesh, completely deflated, then lost their opener Soumya Sarkar in the one hour they were made to bat with Tamim Iqbal (24) and Mominul Haque (1) holding fort as they reached 41/1 at stumps on the second day of the one-off Test.

India began the second day’s proceedings with the same intention as on the first day — dominate Bangladesh completely and then push them into a corner from where survival would be the only thought. Kohli and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane (82, 133b, 11x4) set the tempo for that plan as they batted fluently.

Their job was made that much easier as 21-year-old pacer Taskin Ahmed continued to pepper them with poorly directed short deliveries. Seeing the cricket ball like a football, Kohli cut and pulled them while Rahane was happy to deposit them to the boundaries.

Spinners Mehedi Hasan and Taijul Islam then tried to stem the flow of runs but Kohli and Rahane were just too good for them. They used their feet brilliantly and possessing a wide range of shots, they simply bossed Bangladesh as skipper Mushfiqur Rahim looked bereft of ideas.

Within the opening hour, India had Bangladesh pinned on the mat and the visitors just started to go through the motions in the hope of India self-destructing themselves, which never materialised on a track that was good for batting.

Rahane, like Saha returning back to the team from injury, sadly missed out on a century, thanks to a brilliant piece of fielding. Square-driving uppishly to a Taijul ball, he watched helplessly as Mehedi pulled off a superb diving catch at short cover. That ended up being one of the very few enjoyable moments for Bangladesh as Kohli and Saha continued to maintain a high tempo.

More than enough has been written and said about Kohli and the 28-year-old, batting like a dream, was again in his elements. He hardly put a foot wrong in a free-flowing innings filled with some outrageous strokes. The areas he found, through the last-moment flick of his wrists, was an exhibition of a master at work in his prime.

He brought up his double-century through a lofted shot over his favoured cover region before raising his arms as the 12,000-odd crowd — mostly of school children — applauded their hero. He perished amidst that euphoria, trying to cut a ball that was too close, missing it totally as it struck him flush on the pads.

It was then up to Saha and the lower order to tighten the noose on Bangladesh and they just did that. Fresh from an unbeaten 203 that helped Rest of India stage a miraculous comeback and clinch the Irani Cup against Gujarat, Saha slowed down during the latter part of his innings but with Ravindra Jadeja in destructive mood, he didn’t have to worry much.

He picked up pace as he neared his ton and soon after he got there. Just after Jadeja had achieved his  half-century, Kohli declared. Pacer Umesh Yadav, coming as second change bowler, removed Sarkar to heap more misery on Bangladesh.

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