Kohli special flattens Lanka

Skipper slams brilliant 213 as India close in on innings victory

Kohli special flattens Lanka

On another run-filled day, India cut all escape routes for Sri Lanka as they primed themselves to take 1-0 lead in the three-Test series.

For some strange reason, overnight centurion Cheteshwar Pujara (143, 502m, 362b, 14x4) continued to be diffident despite spending whole of second day at the crease and having had a good measure of the conditions and the visitors' bowling attack. Skipper Virat Kohli (213, 387m, 267b, 17x4, 1x6), however, batted with usual energy and enterprise to notch up his fifth career double hundred while the returning Rohit Sharma (102 n.o., 191m, 160b, 8x4, 1x6) helped himself to his third career century as India buried Lanka in an avalanche of runs here on the third day of the second Test here at the VCA stadium on Sunday.

Resuming at their bedtime score of 312/2, India declared their innings closed at 610 for six in 176.1 overs after making Lanka toil in the middle for two full days on a largely unresponsive pitch. While India appeared to have declared later than they could have, the fact remained that there were still two full days left in the game with not a speck of cloud in sight. Also, with the pitch still looking good to bat on, India seemed to take the game deep when cracks and rough created by the faster bowlers would come into play.    

Needing to make 406 runs, almost the double of what they managed in the first innings, to make India bat again, Sri Lanka lost opener Sadira Samarawickrama off the second ball of their second innings to end the day on 21 for one in nine overs. The right-hander, who flashed at an away going first delivery, shouldered arms to one that hit the small crack and snaked in to clip the top of off stumps. Dimuth Karunaratne (11 n.o.) and Lahiru Thirimanne (9 n.o.) saw off the rest of the overs for the day without any damage. The tourists still trail India by 384 runs.              

The day belonged to Kohli who followed up his sparkling hundred in the second innings of the first Test with an equally impressive innings. On a wicket where Pujara found stroke-making difficult because of its slowness, Kohli was in a different zone altogether. With the Saurashtra batsman mustering no more than 22 runs off 78 balls in 111 minutes on the third morning, it was left for Kohli to do all the running. Dasun Shanaka, who was fined for ball tampering on the second day, finally ended Pujara's misery when he broke through right-hander's defences with a fuller one that dipped just in front, forcing him to play the wrong length and miss it completely.

Ajinkya Rahane's struggles against spin continued as the vice-captain fell for another cheap score but Rohit made most of his first opportunity to bat in a Test match since the series against New Zealand more than a year ago.

While Rohit was obviously a bit cautious without being too defensive, Kohli imposed himself on the opposition like only he does. He strutted around with swag and batted with intent and purpose. That he meant business was obvious from the fact that he added 118 runs (153b) in a partnership of 183 with Pujara. Kohli had walked in with Pujara on 80 on the second day and when the latter got out, he had gathered only 63 in 143 balls. There was no let up Kohli's tempo as he cruised to his fifth double ton in 21 Tests, stretching from his maiden 200 in West Indies just over a year ago. With this he equalled Rahul Dravid's tally of five hundreds and only Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag are above him with six each. He also matched Brian Lara's record of five double tons as a captain.  

Rohit too had a satisfying day after becoming the fourth centurion of India's innings. After back to back hundreds in his first two Tests, this was Rohit's first ton in 20 Tests spread over four years.                        

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