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Kohli double ton helps India nudge ahead on smoggy day

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The second day’s play at Feroz Shah Kotla was headlined by the notorious Delhi smog which managed to hold up play on many occasions to elicit contrasting reactions from both the camps on Sunday (December 3). However, the day belonged to the Indian skipper Virat Kohli who trampled many a record on his way to 243 – his career-best in Test cricket. After what appeared to be a forced declaration by Kohli following unprecedented delays caused by smog, India struck back with two quick wickets before Dilruwan Perera and Angelo Mathews showed first signs of resistance. Although, Perera fell short of his fifty, the former skipper survived to register his 29th half-century as Sri Lanka went into Stumps on 131 for 3, trailing by another 405 runs.

The major element of interest on Sunday was Kohli and his prospective double hundred, and as expected, he didn’t disappoint, getting there in quick time. Rohit Sharma, who came out to bat with his skipper, was the first to press the pedal as he took on chinaman bowler Lakshan Sandakan to send a few hits beyond the fence early in the day. In the process, he hit his second six to raise his eighth fifty. Kohli had a mini-scare on 195 when the Sri Lankans opted for a review on an LBW appeal. However, thanks to an inside edge, Kohli survived that before going on to post yet another double hundred, second in as many innings. Just as the duo finished adding 100-plus runs for the fifth wicket, Rohit bottom-edged a cut to the ‘keeper to fall at the stroke of Lunch.

The following session was marred by smog as the entire Sri Lankan unit came out wearing masks to protect themselves from poor quality air. There was a delay that lasted as long as 16 minutes with not just the captain and senior players pleading with the umpires to go off the field, but also the manager and coach coming onto the field to request for the same. However, play continued despite multiple deliberations and it affected India the most as they lost Ravichandran Ashwin immediately on resumption, and Kohli soon after. With Sri Lanka continuing to complain about the conditions further, Kohli sent out an abrupt declaration on 536 for 7.

In what seemed like a strong message of intent and disapproval of the conditions being poor, India’s pacers were on the field immediately even before others could come out for the starting drills. Mohammed Shami picked up a wicket off the very first ball as he sent Dimuth Karunaratne back for a golden duck. After surviving a few close chances, Dhananjaya de Silva, who had walked in at No. 3, was trapped plumb in front by Ishant Sharma’s in-dipper.

India could have gained further ground but for the poor catching skills in the slip cordon which robbed the hosts of twin opportunities to send Perera and Mathews back cheaply. Perera edged one off Shami in the seventh over but the thick edge was put down by Shikhar Dhawan at second slip. Mathews was dropped on six in a couple of overs’ time as Ishant was denied a chance with captain Kohli as the culprit on that occasion.

Perera continued with his risky ways as he plundered nine boundaries while closing in on a fifty. On 42 though, Ravindra Jadeja slipped one in as Perera played it with the pad. Although the on-field umpire turned the appeal down, Jadeja coaxed Kohli into taking a review which surprisingly revealed that the ball was hitting the stumps. As Perera walked back eight short of a fifty, further replays suggested that the batsman was 2.99 meters outside the crease, i.e. 1 cm short of being safe.

Mathews struggled even though he managed to stay safe. Mostly rooted to the crease, Mathews fished at deliveries that kept swinging outside the line of off stump, from both Shami and Ishant. He then went on to hit back-to-back fours off Ishant before redeeming himself further by hitting Ashwin for two consecutive sixes. In the process, he registered his 29th fifty in Tests. Skipper Chandimal held the fort from the other end as the two senior pros pulled the shutters down on the fall of wickets. Eventually as the tourists ended an eventful second day, Sri Lanka managed to limit much damage. However, Chandimal and Mathews would have a lot of work at hand when play resumes on the third day.

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