New Delhi, December 2: Chinaman bowler Lakshan Sandakan's late strikes gave Sri Lanka something to smile about after India dominated Day One of their third and final Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla here on Saturday (December 2).
Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella pulled off two stumpings in two overs as India rack up 371/4 in 90 overs. Murali Vijay (155 off 267) and Ajinkya Rahane (1) were just inches off the crease while trying to negotiate Sandakan's googlies.
Captain Virat Kohli (156 batting), however, looks set to make a bigger score on Day Two. He has company in Rohit Sharma (6 batting).
Kohli played a sublime innings throughout the day to make a mockery of the sub-par Sri Lankan attack. His 283-run partnership with Vijay for the third wicket was the highlight on a day India looked completely in charge.
Kohli scored his 20th Test hundred and third of the series. The skipper made it look like a knocking session against a bowling attack, which at times looked inferior than a middle-run first-class side playing Ranji Trophy.
The greatest batsman of his generation. He is on a different level to any current batsmen - @imVkohli!— KP (@KP24) December 2, 2017
The gulf between the two sides was more evident as Kohli at times merely pushed the balls through the gaps and fetched boundaries at will. None of the Sri Lankan bowlers was even capable of bowling to the set field as Vijay hit 13 boundaries in 267 balls and Kohli 16 off 186 deliveries.
The Lankan attack's plight could be gauged by the fact that they were hit for 31 boundaries in just two sessions.
Pacer Lahiru Gamage (1/68) would provide half-volleys on the off-stump keeping the cover area vacant and skipper would gleefully punched it through the region.
When the off-side cordon was plugged, Gamage would bowl on the legs for him to tickle to fine leg boundary. With his military medium pace, when he tried to bounce Kohli, the skipper rocked back and pulled him through mid-wicket.
Off-spinner Dilruwan Perera (1/97) was given a five-pronged leg-side field expecting him to bowl the classical off-breaks. He bowled straight with no protection on the off-side. Kohli used his supple wrists to get a boundary through the cover region and then hit a late cut for good measure.
Chinaman Lakshan Sandakan (2/110) couldn't find his length as he was easily negotiated by Kohli and Vijay.
3000 Test runs as captain for Virat Kohli— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) December 2, 2017
Third Indian after MS Dhoni (3454) and Gavaskar (3449)#IndvSL
Kohli's career-fastest Test half-century came off 52 balls and in no time he matched Vijay's score with both racing towards three-figure mark.
Vijay reached his personal landmark - 11th in longest version with a back-foot cover drive off chinaman Lakshan Sandakan. He did a little celebratory jig after that.
While the home team scored runs at a fast clip, both Shikhar Dhawan (23) and Cheteshwar Pujara (23) would certainly be lamenting the missed chance on one of the flattest decks on offer.
CAPTAIN MARVEL! Virat Kohli reaches 5,000 runs in Test cricket with a perfectly executed cover drive boundary. He's the fourth fastest to the milestone, reaching in— myKhel.com (@mykhelcom) December 2, 2017
105 innings, 10 more than Sunil Gavaskar. #INDvSL #BCCI https://t.co/XqJryvcLCa
Meanwhile, Samarawickrama takes one for the team. He's off the field after being hit on the helmet while fielding at short leg after a shot by Vijay. Possibly a concussion. Shanaka is the substitute fielder. India 139/2 #INDvSL #BCCIhttps://t.co/XqJryvcLCa— myKhel.com (@mykhelcom) December 2, 2017
Earlier, Sri Lankan skipper Dinesh Chandimal was spot on in his assessment of the track as it was another typical low bounce batting paradise at Kotla, where Vijay made merry from the word go after Kohli rightly opted to bat.
Vijay started with a streaky four past gully off Suranga Lakmal followed by one off his hips. In the next over from Lahiru Gamage, there was a firm jab past the bowler that went to the boundary. Vijay hit seven boundaries during that first session.
Dhawan started with a cover drive and hit three more boundaries before he top edged a sweep shot off Perera to be caught at deep backward square leg by Lakmal, who lost his footwear in the process. This was Dilruwan's 100th Test wicket.
Pujara was as watchful as he had been all these years before unleashing his range of strokes with the visiting team's bowling attack looking sub-standard. However he fell to a trap when Chandimal deployed a leg gully for Pujara and Gamage fired one into his body.
Pujara tried to whip it off his hips but Sadeera Samarawickrama was positioned exactly for that catch. However there was no stopping Kohli on a day of positives for India.
(With PTI inputs)