India lose two but Vijay stands tall

Lunch: India 116 for 2 (Vijay 51*, Kohli 17*) v Sri Lanka

© BCCI

M Vijay’s solidity and strokeplay led India through a frenetic first session at the Feroz Shah Kotla, where they galloped along at more than four an over but also lost two wickets to not particularly wicket-taking deliveries. At lunch, India were 116 for 2, with Vijay batting on 51 and Virat Kohli on 17.

Vijay reached his fifty in the last over before lunch, when a direct hit from the cover fielder added four overthrows to a quick single. He was his usual, watchful self against good-length balls in the corridor, but in good batting conditions that good length was a fairly small area on the pitch. When they strayed remotely off that area, Vijay was quick to put the ball away. He gave a good demonstration of this with a pair of boundaries in the 23rd over of India’s innings, off Lahiru Gamage, a cover drive followed by an on-drive, both off balls that were far from half-volleys.

Kohli had chosen to bat first, contending there would be early help for the fast bowlers to challenge his batsmen early on, but had also said he would have liked more grass on the pitch in what is India’s final Test before their tour of South Africa.

As it turned out, there wasn’t much in it at all for the quicks, and soon Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan were on their way, driving freely on the up and hitting eight fours in the first ten overs. Sri Lanka brought on spin as early as the eighth over, and Dilruwan Perera continued to worry his team with his inconsistency of length, and Dhawan picked up two fours behind point in his first two overs. But he grew a little greedy, and picked out deep square leg with a top-edged sweep on 23. Suranga Lakmal briefly lost the ball in the hazy atmosphere, and lost a shoe while hurriedly changing direction, but managed to hold on to the ball.

It was Dilruwan’s 100th Test wicket. He might not be the most frugal of spinners, but he has the knack of taking wickets – his 100th had come up in his 25th Test, and no Sri Lankan had got there quicker. Muttiah Muralitharan had taken 27 Tests.

In walked Cheteshwar Pujara, whose last four partnerships with Vijay read 107, 178, 102 and 209. They seemed to be continuing from where they left off in Nagpur, while scoring twice as quickly, and Pujara in particular was putting the bowlers through the shredder, hitting four fours in the space of three overs, including two back-foot whips off marginally short balls from Dilruwan. But this time the partnership would only get as far as 36.

Lahiru Gamage broke it, Sri Lanka profiting from the same plan that had brought them Pujara’s wicket in the second innings in Galle in late July. Then, he had flicked a full ball from Lahiru Kumara to leg gully. Now, he tucked one off his legs in the same direction, just uppishly enough for Sadeera Samarawickrama to take a sharp catch falling to his left.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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