India vs Sri Lanka: Tango time, Virat Kohli’s batsmen dominate in pairs

Indian cricket team’s top order -- KL Rahul, Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan -- have taken turns being out of the squad with injury or poor form, but one or more top batsmen, including Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, have always delivered with big innings and partnerships, evident on Day 1 of the third Test vs Sri Lanka cricket team

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Dec 02, 2017 21:25 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India vs Sri Lanka,IND vs SL,Virat Kohli
Indian cricket team opener Murali Vijay celebrates with skipper Virat Kohli after completing his century against Sri Lanka cricket team during the first day of the third Test at Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi on Saturday. (PTI)

Indian cricket team’s consistency under skipper Virat Kohli has seen their rise to No 1 in Test rankings, but the performances have come despite a constant shuffle in the playing eleven. (Kotla Test, Day 1 highlights)

Nowhere has it been more pronounced than the top order, where KL Rahul, Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan have taken turns with injury or form, keeping one of them always on the sidelines.(Kotla Test, Day 1 scorecard)

However, one batsman or other have delivered the goods, posting big totals and partnerships. On Saturday in the third Test against Sri Lanka at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground, it was opener Murali Vijay (155) and skipper Virat Kohli (156 n.o.)who piled on the runs, amassing a 283-run third wicket partnership.

India No. 3 Cheteshwar Pujara was the pivot in the Nagpur Test where his century stands with Kohli and Vijay helped India crush Sri Lanka by an innings and 239 runs.

Assistant coach Sanjay Bangar, feels playing five batsmen to allow for the selection of five bowlers has led to a change in the mindset.

“That is something the batsmen have taken it upon themselves. In the last 2-1/2-3 years, the team management under Virat’s leadership has opted to make some difficult choices, like play with five batsmen. The kind of development the lower order has shown allows us to play with five batsmen,” he said.

“But the onus is also on the five batsmen, whoever gets in wants to make it big. That is something they have embraced really well. Hence you will find they have converted most of the hundreds into really big hundreds,” added Bangar.

“The number of big scores we’ve had is purely because they understand the responsibility towards taking into account the team is one batsman short and how someone set can make the difference and help us get the results in a Test.”

The partnership planning was evident in the Kohli-Vijay stand. Once the skipper arrived, Vijay chose to rotate the strike and let his partner dominate, but once the opener got closer to his century, Kohli took a back seat. In Nagpur, it was Pujara’s turn to play the anchoring role.

On the eve of the Test, Vijay pointed out the team planning when he said a change in partner could unsettle the in-form batsman and hence it was important to sort that out with good communication.

How India plan and execute partnerships could define performances with tours to South Africa, England and Australia lined up in 2018.

First Published: Dec 02, 2017 21:18 IST