Virat Kohli’s India tighten noose on Sri Lanka in Delhi Test
Sri Lanka were reeling at 31/3 at stumps on the penultimate day of the Delhi Test as India inched closer towards sealing a 2-0 series winUpdated: Dec 05, 2017 18:18 IST
Virat Kohli signed off a highly productive 2017 with a half-century, amassing 610 runs for the three-Test series against Sri Lanka as India pushed for victory in the final game at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground on Tuesday. (INDIA v SRI LANKA UPDATES)
Tests at the Kotla, unless a crumbling surface is laid out, follow a pattern, and invariably plays into the hands of the hosts who have dominated since the loss to West Indies in 1987. They have won 10 of the 11 Tests since then. (INDIA vs SRI LANKA SCORECARD)
At the end of the fourth day, it was a familiar situation as Sri Lanka fought to save the match after being reduced to 31 for three at stumps. Ravindra Jadeja’s double in an over left Sri Lanka reeling.
India piled on the lead before declaring their second innings at 246 for five midway through the final session, setting a target of 410 runs and giving themselves three-and-a-half sessions to seal a 2-0 series victory.
On one end of the scale stood the Indian skipper, who followed his career-best 243 in the first-innings with 50. Shikhar Dhawan (50), Cheteshwar Pujara (49 no) and Rohit Sharma (50 no) all scored rapidly once Sri Lanka were 373 all out replying to India’s 536/7 declared.
Even a draw would give India a record-equalling ninth series win on the trot. But there would be concerns over vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane’s poor form with South Africa up next. The toxic Delhi air also proved poor advertisement for sporting activity.
The backbone of India’s batting overseas, Rahane’s recent travails continued as he fell for 10 before lunch. Kohli promoted his deputy to No 3 to give him a chance to play himself into form without pressure.
However, Rahane, who has since the New Zealand home series last year scored just two hundreds, didn’t show any sign of resurgence after scores of 4, 0, 2 and 1 in this three-Test series before Tuesday.
Rahane’s weakness against spin at home was reinforced as he looked shaky, and twice survived two leg before appeals that were reviewed. Shuffling too far, and too early, he was in trouble but survived two reviews, only to loft off-spinner Dilruwan Perera to be caught at long-on.
The cornerstone of Sri Lanka’s first innings 373 was skipper Dinesh Chandimal surpassing his previous best of 162 not out – versus India at Galle in 2015 – by scoring 164 (361b, 21x4, 1x6) in almost eight hours before being the last man out.
He added 30 runs with last man Lakshan Sandakan before slashing Ishant Sharma to Dhawan at deep third man, the innings ending in the sixth over of the morning.
Chandimal had raised a181-run fourth wicket stand with former skipper Angelo Mathews (111) on the third day to lead Sri Lanka’s fight back.
Off-spinner R Ashwin, who triggered a batting collapse on the third day by first dismissing Mathews, took 3/90. Ishant Sharma took 3/98 with Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja taking two wickets each.
Play began in heavy smog with the floodlights on. Sri Lanka players had felt the effect of air pollution during Day 2, though there were no further interruptions despite the poor air quality.
However, most Sri Lanka players wore face masks when they came on the field for India’s second innings. Pace bowler Suranga Lakmal vomited and went off the field briefly.
Indian players had braved the conditions and not shown much discomfort, but their resilience broke down late in the day when Mohammed Shami vomitted, and went off the field after bowling the final delivery of the over.
India lead the three-match series 1-0 and are looking to sign off their superb run over the last one year, predominantly at home, with a win.
A win or draw will help them equal the world record of nine consecutive Test series wins, held jointly by Australia and England.