KOLKATA: India’s plan was simple. Get quick runs, take a sizeable lead and put Sri Lanka in. However, the pitch had something else to say, just like the previous four days of the first Test at Eden Gardens.
Resuming on an overnight score of 171/1, Suranga Lakmal’s devastating spell (8-2-19-3) did not allow India to go ahead with their plan. The pacer sent back KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane packing.
The hosts slipped further when Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin were dismissed within 20 runs of each other. At 269/6, with a lead of 147, India were in a situation of strife. That’s when Kohli decided to take matters in his hands. “We lost two-three quick wickets. We needed solidity. Virat did just that. It was a great innings, which gave us the platform to attack with the ball,” Rahul said.
Stats showed how the skipper paced his innings and adapted to the situation. While Kohli took 80 balls to reach his half-century, he needed only 39 more to reach three figures, lifting Lakmal over mid-off and depositing the ball into the stands.
With tail-enders for company, Kohli scored 53 from 39 balls, while the rest around him accumulated 25 from 52. Courtesy his 18th Test century, India got a score which gave them a chance to set a target and nearly sufficient time for the bowlers to dismiss the opposition.
In such challenging conditions, with cracks appearing on the pitch and the ball still seaming around, batting was hard as most of the batsmen found out. Just that Kohli was a class of his own. “We bowled and fielded well. Virat was fantastic. I don’t think we did anything wrong,” Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas summed it up.
With this century, Kohli also equalled a long-standing record, held by Sunil Gavaskar, for the most centuries by an Indian captain in Tests. That Kohli relishes captaincy and believes in leading from the front can also be established from the fact that in Tests in which he has been at the helm, no other batsman has been innings top-scorer more often — or scored more runs — than the captain himself (12). “If I can step up and perform when required, that will give me more pleasure than thinking of the number of hundreds I have. That will remain the mindset till I play this game,” Kohli said.
India 1st innings 172. Sri Lanka 1st innings 294. India 2nd innings (overnight 171/1): Rahul b Lakmal 79, Pujara c Perera b Lakmal 22, Kohli no 104, Rahane lbw b Lakmal 0, Jadeja c Thirimanne b Perera 9, Ashwin b Shanaka 7, Saha c Samarawickrama b Shanaka 5, Kumar c Perera b Gamage 8, Shami no 12. Extras (b7, lb1, nb1, w3) 12. Total (8 wickets decl, 88.4 overs) 352. Fall of wickets: 1-166, 2-192, 3-213, 4-213, 5-249, 6-269, 7-281, 8-321. Bowling: Lakmal 24.4-4-93-3, Gamage 23-2-97-1, Shanaka 22-1-76-3, Perera 13-2-49-1,
Herath 6-1-29-0. Sri Lanka 2nd innings (target 231): Samarawickrama b Kumar 0, Karunaratne b Shami 1, Thirimanne c Rahane b Kumar 7, Mathews lbw b Yadav 12, Chandimal b Shami 20, Dickwella lbw b Kumar 27, Shanaka no 6, Perera b Kumar 0, Herath no 0. Extras (lb1, nb1) 2. Total (for 7 wkts, 26.3 overs) 75. Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-2, 3-14, 4-22, 5-69, 6-69, 7-75. Bowling: Kumar 11-8-8-4, Shami 9.3-4-34-2, Yadav 5-0-25-1, Jadeja 1-0-7-0.