DELHI, Sunday – Sri Lanka had to not only battle with the Indian cricketers but also the dreaded Delhi pollution that saw them down toten men on the field and running out of substitutes when Virat Kohli the Indian captain prevented the match from being further delayed by declaring with his team’s score at 536-7 on the second day of the third and final Test being played at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium here on Sunday.
Angelo Mathews plays an off drive during his unbeaten half-century.
By stumps facing a massive Indian total and requiring to score 337 to make the hosts bat again Sri Lanka were 131 for three wickets, to trail India by 405 runs. The first session of play took place without any incidents with India moving from their overnight 371-4 to 500-5 and Kohli completing his sixth Test double century - all achieved as captain off 238 balls with 20 fours. He had scored 213 in the second Test at Nagpur and thus had back to back double hundreds.
Sri Lanka managed to grab the wicket of Rohit Sharma on the stroke of lunch for 65 when he essayed a cut shot only to bottom edge it to the wicket-keeper giving Sandakan his third wicket of the innings.
The drama began after lunch when the Lankans took the field wearing masks to prevent them from the polluted air which had got heavier and hung like a haze for almost the day. It was not before long that Sri Lanka suffered their first casualty on the field when Lahiru Gamage who was bowling found difficulty in breathing. Play was stopped for about 17 minutes with the umpires and the two captains in conversation and when it resumed Ashwin lost his wicket to the first ball edging Gamage to Perera at gully. However midway in his 26th over Gamage was forced to go off the field unable to continue struggling with his breathing. Gamage’s new ball partner Suranga Lakmal followed him to the dressing room soon after with the same problem. With all these interruptions taking place Kohli who had moved to his career best score of 243 lost his concentration and was trapped lbw by a Sandakan delivery that spun back to rap him on the pads to end a brilliant innings that lasted 430 minutes and 287 balls and comprised 25 fours.
Kohli had by then broken a 62-year-old ground record for the highest individual score that had stood to the name of Bert Sutcliffe on New Zealand since 1955. Sutcliffe made 230 not out. Kohli also passed 500 runs in a Test series for the third time in his career with only Sunil Gavaskar ahead of him amongst Indians with six. With Sri Lanka struggling to get ten fit men on the field India declared at 536-7 leaving them with 50 overs to bowl at the Lankan batters.
Faced with such a daunting total Sri Lanka got off to one of their worst starts losing opener Dimuth Karunaratne first ball to a peach of a delivery from Mohammad Shami that squared him up and resulted in an edge to the wicket-keeper. Sri Lanka also lost Dhananjaya de Silva making a comeback to the Test side for one to be 14-2. But Dilruwan Perera promoted to open as Sadeera Samarawickrama was under observation played a gutsy knock of 42 off 54 balls (9fours) and put on 61 for the third wicket with Angelo Mathews before losing his wicket. Perera survived a chance at 16 when Shikhar Dhawan dropped him at second slip off Shami but what was worse was that the ball hit the helmet placed behind him the wicket-keeper and Sri Lanka earned five penalty runs. Mathews and Chandimal saw Sri Lanka through to the close on an eventful day remaining unbeaten on 57 and 23 respectively having so far figured in an unfinished stand of 56.
Samarawickrama suffering from mild concussion did not take the field yesterday.
He was struck on the forehead of his helmet while fielding at short leg by a pull shot from Murali Vijay on the first day of the third Test and left the field and took no further part in the match.
A precautionary CT brain scan cleared him of any danger but he was kept under strict observation.