Vijay, Pujara bat India into dominant position | Sunday Observer

Vijay, Pujara bat India into dominant position

Indian opener Murali Vijay celebrates his hundred on the second day of the second Test against Sri Lanka at the Vidarbha CA stadium in Nagpur on Saturday. AFP
Indian opener Murali Vijay celebrates his hundred on the second day of the second Test against Sri Lanka at the Vidarbha CA stadium in Nagpur on Saturday. AFP

NAGPUR, Saturday – India took a stranglehold of the second cricket Test after Sri Lanka had missed out their turn by being dismissed for 205 on the first day, when they closed day two at 312 for two wickets with Murali Vijay and Cheteswar Pujara each making a hundred at the Vidarbha CA Stadium in Jamtha here on Saturday.

The Lankans had only themselves to blame for missing out on such a good opportunity to put runs on the board after winning the toss. As it stands India are in a position to call all the shots and ensure they notch up their first win of the three-match series following an exciting draw in the rain-hit first Test at Kolkata. They lead by 107 runs with eight first innings wickets in hand and three days of the Test remaining.

Sri Lanka’s capitulation on the first day left India with plenty of time on their hands to pile up a big first innings total and that was what they went about doing yesterday.

The early success of getting the wicket of Lokesh Rahul for a duck on the opening day paled into insignificance when the Vijay-Pujara partnership started to blossom out and reached match winning proportions – 209 off 430 balls. The pair put together more than the total runs scored by Sri Lanka in their first innings.

It was the ninth Test century partnerships between the duo at home in the last 22 innings and the tenth overall. The pair batted right through the first two sessions without any difficulty adding 86 to the overnight total in the morning and a further 88 in the second.

Vijay who came in for Shikhar Dhawan who opted out of the match for personal reasons made the most of his chance to score his tenth Test century and first against Sri Lanka completing it off 187 balls with the aid of nine fours and a six. He went onto make 128 off 221 balls with 11 fours and a six before top edging a sweep off a full toss from Rangana Herath to short fine leg.

Pujara at the other end was rock solid and lent Vijay the necessary support to blunt the Lankan bowling that looked quite ordinary on the perfect batting surface. If not for the agility of the Lankans on the field India could have got away to a much bigger total than they did.

Runs were so easy to come by that the batsmen never had trouble negotiating the Lankan seam cum spin attack pushing the good length balls for singles and twos and hitting the odd boundary whenever the bowler erred in line and length.

India were in no hurry to rush things for there was plenty of time in the match so they went about their business of piling on the runs at a steady pace wearing down the Lankan bowling to make it easier for the rest of the batsmen who were to follow.

The only chance that came their way Sri Lanka muffed it when Perera at short mid-on failed to hold onto a chance offered by Vijay at 61 off Gamage. Apart from that dropped catch the Indian batsmen hardly put a foot wrong.

Pujara who has the ability to kill bowlers with his solid defence and technique became the third batsman after Dean Elgar of South Africa and Dimuth Karunaratne of Sri Lanka to reach 1000 runs for 2017 during his knock of 121 not out. He really wore down the Lankan bowlers batting the entire day for 391 minutes and 284 balls to score his 14th Test hundred and fourth against Sri Lanka hitting 13 fours.

Pujara’s last seven innings against Sri Lanka have produced scores of 153 & 15, 133, 8, 52 & 22, 121 (n.o.).

India passed Sri Lanka’s total in the 73rd over and by the 78th over Sri Lanka desperate for wickets had exhausted all their reviews with India only two wickets down for 224.

Virat Kohli’s arrival at the fall of Vijay’s wicket at 216 set the ideal stage for him to launch himself into overdrive straightaway without much ado and saw the final session produce 127 runs. Kohli’s contribution is an unbeaten 54 off 70 balls (6 fours) in an unfinished stand of 96 with Pujara perhaps with more to come.

Sri Lanka suffered a casualty on the field when the youngest member of the team Sadeera Samarawickrama had to go off after being hit a blow on the left side of his ribs fielding at forward short leg when Vijay pulled a ball from Herath. He is reported to be ‘okay’ with no signs of any fracture.