Kohli became the first captain to score six Test double centuries eclipsing the previous best by West Indian legend Brian Lara.
Sri Lankan cricketers in masks reflected the plight of cricket in the tiny island. It is in need of immediate remedial measures to recover from a state of inertia.
The one attempted on Sunday afternoon, however, was a temporary solution to counter the playing conditions at the Ferozeshah Kotla against an Indian team which had no issues of breathing or sighting and continued to dominate the third Test.
Virat Kohli’s career-best knock of 243 was overshadowed by Sri Lanka’s methods of protesting against the existent air quality in the Capital. They were fine in the first session but most of their players opted to wear masks as the game was interrupted thrice.
Tempers flared in either camp, coaches Ravi Shastri and Nic Pothas joined the debate on the field with umpires Nigel Long and Joel Wilson, and eventually India declared.
India’s total of 536 for seven was imposing enough for the troubled Sri Lanka. The response was expectedly shaky and Sri Lanka was 131 for three at close of play, fortunate not to have lost more wickets.
Greeting with jeers
The turn out, one of the best for a Test at Kotla in recent times, did not appreciate the Sri Lankan tactics and greeted the openers with jeers.
A first-ball wicket for Mohammed Shami set up an intriguing session as India looked to strangle the opposition after the batsmen had flattened the Sri Lankan bowling.
Sri Lanka was within its rights to complain against the poor air quality.
Even a member of the Indian team was spotted wearing the mask but what stood out sorely was the jubilant reaction of some of the Sri Lanka players when Kohli called the batmen in.
Sri Lanka had obviously succeeded in gamesmanship of extracting a declaration from India. When India resumed at 371 for four, Kohli took off from his overnight score of 156 in the company of Rohit Sharma and Sri Lanka’s misery multiplied with every passing over.
Kohli is truly a milestones man with an indefatigable spirit to set new benchmarks. His sixth double century, within 18 months of hitting his first, was yet another statement highlighting his fitness, endurance and the will to excel at the crease.
The ease with which Kohli, and to a lesser extent Rohit, compiled runs against an attack which lacked self belief exposed the brittle Sri Lankan spirit.
Kohli’s assault demoralised the bowlers and set up a strong platform for India. Even as he selflessly sprinted for ones and twos for his partner, Kohli was only adding to his onerous task.
He once needed treatment for his back but Kohli did not go for the big shots which would have helped him conserve energy. His dismissal, to a ball which ripped in and hit on the back pad, was an uncharacteristic error of judgement.
India’s declaration came about once the home team realised the Sri Lankans were playing within the rules and getting away with delaying tactics.
Shami’s strike and a wicket each for Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja once again underlined the difference between the teams.
Angelo Mathews, unbeaten on 57, missed more than he played as Ishant gave him a harrowing time. Late in the day he clouted R. Ashwin for two sixes and saw the session through along with Chandimal.
A long day awaits Sri Lanka as India will look to carry on the good work on the third day too.
India — 1st innings: M. Vijay st Dickwella b Sandakan 155 (267b, 13×4), Shikhar Dhawan c Lakmal b Perera 23 (35b, 4×4), Cheteshwar Pujara c Samarawickrama b Gamage 23 (39b, 4×4), Virat Kohli lbw b Sandakan 243 (287b, 25×4), Ajinkya Rahane st Dickwella b Sandakan 1 (5b), Rohit Sharma c Dickwella b Sandakan 65 (102b, 7×4, 2×6), R. Ashwin c Perera b Gamage 4 (16b), Wriddhiman Saha (not out) 9 (19b, 1×4), Ravindra Jadeja (not out) 5 (4b, 1×4); Extras (lb-1, nb-7): 8; Total (for seven wkts. decl. in 127.5 overs): 536.
Fall of wickets: 1-42 (Dhawan, 9.6 overs), 2-78 (Pujara, 20.2), 3-361 (Vijay, 85.6), 4-365 (Rahane, 87.3), 5-500 (Rohit, 117.5), 6-519 (Ashwin, 122.4), 7-523 (Kohli, 125.3).
Sri Lanka bowling: Lakmal 21.2-2-80-0, Gamage 25.3-7-95-2, Perera 31.1-0-145-1, Sandakan 33.5-1-167-4, Dhananjaya 16-0-48-0.
Sri Lanka — 1st innings: Dimuth Karunaratne c Saha b Shami 0 (1b), Dilruwan Perera lbw b Jadeja 42 (54b, 9×4), Dhananjaya de Silva lbw b Ishant 1 (14b), Angelo Mathews (batting) 57 (118b, 8×4, 2×6), Dinesh Chandimal (batting) 25 (81b, 3×4); Extras (nb-1, pen-5): 6; Total (for three wkts. in 44.3 overs): 131.
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Karunaratne, 0.1), 2-14 (Dhananjaya, 5.1), 3-75 (Perera, 18.4).
India bowling: Shami 11-3-30-1, Ishant 10-4-44-1, Jadeja 14.3-6-24-1, Ashwin 9-3-28-0.