Sri Lanka 205 and 21 for 1 (Karunaratne 11*, Thirimanne 9*) trail India 610 for 6 dec. (Kohli 213, Pujara 143, Vijay 128, Rohit 102*) by 384 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Last July, Virat Kohli had no double-centuries. He now has five. Only Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar are the Indians with more. Kohli waltzed to 213 off only 267 balls to set up a declaration and asked Sri Lanka to survive for nine overs before stumps on day three.
But the fatigue of having spent 176.1 overs in the field showed in how Sadeera Samarawickrama flashed at a wide ball and left alone a straight one. At times, teams have to tackle those dreaded days of trying to delay the declaration, and how they go about it can tell a lot about where they are at as a unit. Sri Lanka, unfortunately, were all over the place: bowlers were not accurate, fielders not alert, and plans absent. There was a buffet out there, and all bar KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane tucked in.
Kohli took the record for the most centuries for an Indian captain. Rohit Sharma ended his 13-month wait for first-class cricket and a four-year wait for a Test century in the course of a mere 160 balls. The declaration came as soon as Rohit reached the mark, making it only the third time India have had four centurions in one Test innings.
The start of the day was indicative of how the rest of it would go. Cheteshwar Pujara, 121 at the time, played out a watchful maiden – he took 23 balls to add to his overnight score – and Kohli started off with a single to long-on off his first ball. By the fourth over, it was clear Sri Lanka – understandably – were not there a 100% and that Kohli was, in his hyper-active T20 mode no less.
Kohli pushed one to long-on, Suranga Lakmal lobbed the throw to Rangana Herath, he was slow to come down, and Kohli stole a second with the ball wandering only as far as point. Fielders were under extreme pressure. Later, Herath had his pride hurt when Kohli pinched a single after hitting a firm drive straight to him at mid-off. Flustered, Herath threw anyway and conceded an overthrow. If Lakmal had reason to be upset, he didn’t help matters when he forgot to make an effort to collect a throw the last ball of that over. Towards the end of the session, Niroshan Dickwella was busy applauding the wide slip for getting a hand to a late cut when Kohli raced across for a single.
Pujara continued to play the old-fashioned way. Despite the slow start he didn’t look for a big shot to get going, clipping to leg for his first single of the morning. Kohli was more fluent as he kept driving either side of the wicket from wide outside off.
The seamers tried going round the wicket and Herath tried going over the wicket, but there was hardly a moment of concern for India. While Pujara and Kohli batted together on day three, the bat was beaten only five times, one of them a Dasun Shanaka yorker about seven minutes before lunch and Pujara fell seven short of 150, the ball squeezing under the bat which had covered the line and but hadn’t come down in time. It was a reminder that even when things seem easy for long periods, there are still ways to get out.
A minor disappointment for India was that Rahane fell for just 2, to a loose ball from Dilruwan Perera, which was small consolation for the offspinner who has had an ordinary Test. There was nowhere to hide for him as he had to keep coming back for spell after spell, going for 202 in 45 overs despite an improved showing on Sunday.
Kohli and Rohit presented a milder version of their legendary one-day stands as they matched each other shot for shot in a 173-run stand for the fifth wicket. If Kohli welcomed Lakmal back by dancing down and hitting him over mid-off, Rohit dropped Dilruwan over mid-on. Kohli unleashed a six over long-on, bringing up his and Dilrwuan’s 150. So Rohit raised two lofted boundaries off Herath. Rohit’s 11-ball wait to go from 49 to 50 just before tea brought his strike-rate under 50, but Kohli, more used to these landmarks in Tests, saw no reason to slow down even as he approached his double-hundred in the final session.
Kohli fell for 213, but he gave Rohit all the time he needed to get to a hundred that might be important for his confidence going into the South Africa tour, where he might be asked to bat more often than he has at home. It is up for debate whether it is disrespectful to the opposition to wait for one man’s personal milestone, but it wasn’t as if India were going to run out of time or good weather to run Sri Lanka out a second time. It was apparent in Samarawickrama’s two-ball innings and Sri Lanka’s uncertain bid for survival in the remaining overs.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.