New Delhi: Sri Lanka pulled back with two late wickets as India rode on centurions Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli to end the opening day at 371/4 in the third and final Test at the Ferozeshah Kotla here on Saturday.
Riding on a 283-run third wicket stand between Vijay (155) and Kohli (156 not out), India dominated most sessions of the day before chinaman Lakshan Sandakan’s twin strikes helped Sri Lanka recover.
At stumps, Kohli and Rohit Sharma went undivided on respective scores of 156 and 6 as the tourists managed to pull back in the final four overs of the day.
With four overs left in the day, Vijay perished to a wrong ‘un from chinaman Lakshan Sandakan, with stumper Niroshan Dickwella removing the bails in a flash.
The Tamil Nadu right-hander’s patient innings came off 267 deliveries and was laced with 13 hits to the fence.
One over later, Sandakan again jolted the hosts with the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane (1), who perished in similar fashion as Vijay, being stumped by Dickwella.
Earlier, India elected to bat after winning the toss on a placid Kotla track. The Indian opening duo of Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan (23) gave a solid 42-run start before the latter gifted his wicket away to a harmless Dilruwan Perera off-break delivery.
Coming off a break, the southpaw looked in good control during his brief 35-ball knock, laced with four boundaries before a top edge off a sweep brought his downfall.
With the wicket, Perera became the fastest Sri Lankan to take 100 wickets.
The fall of Dhawan brought in Cheteshwar Pujara (23), who looked equally fluent during his 39-ball innings, comprising four hits to the fence.
But the Saurashtra batsman fell to yet another soft dismissal of the morning when he attempted to clip a good length ball from Lahiru Gamage towards the on-side only to find Sadeera Samarawickrama at leg gully.
With two wickets down for 78 runs, in walked skipper Kohli amid loud cheers from his home crowd. Kohli responded to the cheers by cracking a brilliant boundary off only the third delivery even as Vijay joined the party with his trademark drives. He and Vijay then joined hands to start recovery work for India.
Fresh from a brilliant century in the second Test at Nagpur, the Tamil Nadu opener Vijay continued to haunt the islanders with his exquisite timing to gradually reach his 17th Test half century.
Thereafter, it was one way traffic for the hosts as Kohli and Vijay offered very little chances to the Sri Lankan bowlers.
Kohli reached a personal milestone when he became the fourth fastest Indian batsman to complete 5000 runs in Test cricket.
Playing in his 63rd Test, Kohli became the 11th Indian batsman to achieve the milestone, when he reached 25 in India’s first innings.
Sunil Gavaskar (95 innings), Virender Sehwag (99) and Sachin Tendulkar (103) are the other Indians to have achieved the feat ahead of Kohli, who took 105 innings.
To go with that Kohli also managed to cross the barrier of 16,000 international runs, across all formats.
Kohli and Vijay continued milking the islanders, who showed very little effort to curb the easy singles from the Indian duo in the entire second session and most of the final session.
With the Kotla crowd cheering for their local hero, there could not be a better place for the Indian captain to bring up his 21st Test ton.
Playing just his third Test at home, Kohli consumed 110 balls to bring up his third consecutive ton in the series and subsequently ended the day on an unbeaten 186-ball 156, laced with 16 boundaries.
He scored an unbeaten 104 in the first Test in Kolkata before scoring a match-winning 213 in Nagpur.
The 29-year-old reached the three-figure mark by clipping a full ball off Dilruwan through mid-wicket.
Kohli’s innings had the perfect mix of aggression and elegance while Vijay at the other end, kept fending the odd balls to the boundary as the third wicket stand swelled to 283.
The Tamil Nadu opener got to his 11th Test ton in the second session after facing 163 balls.
Even after reaching the three-figure mark, Vijay kept on pushing for the odd singles and occasional boundaries, to eventually get to his 150 in 251 balls.
For the islanders, Sandakan was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 2/110 while Dilruwan Perera and Lahiru Gamage picked one wicket each. (IANS)