The third Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla saw India commanding proceedings from the very beginning with Virat Kohli and Murali Vijay scoring centuries to give India a 371-run lead on Day 1. Lakshan Sandakan’s late brace of Vijay and Rahane remains the only positive for Sri Lanka in the game.
Another game, another record for the unbelievable Virat Kohli
There were times over the last few years in Europe, when Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo broke records whenever they played a game, and Virat Kohli is quite akin to them now. They say form is temporary and class is permanent, but the skipper has managed to keep his class and
His inhuman average of 70.75 in the 2016-17 home season is, however, not the best part, but rather his tenacity to score runs with unique focus and pace. He has 11 centuries and four double centuries this calendar year, eight of which have come from the 17 Tests he has played, taking his run tally to over a thousand.
Kohli came into bat at Feroz Shah Kotla 10 overs after opener Murali Vijay and while the latter took as many as 163 balls to get to his second consecutive century in the series, Kohli took just 110 balls to reach his third three-digit score in three innings. Though he also made a record to become the fourth fastest Indian to reach 5,000 Test runs by surpassing Rahul Dravid, this has become bread and butter stuff for him now. His ability to adjust to the pitch and to the bowlers in a fraction of a second is phenomenal and India are unlikely to see anyone like him in a long, long time. The South African bowlers will surely be wary of the Indian skipper when he lands on their shores next month.
Dilruwan Perrera the only positives for the visitors
Murali Vijay, who definitely didn’t come into the series high on confidence after not playing at the international level for six months, was hardly bothered by the bowlers on both occasions, Nagpur and Delhi. While the panellists and Sri Lanka cricket experts often speak about a spark, which would be enough to bring the jolt back to their side, none of them seems to know how or when it will arrive.
However, if there has been one positive for them over the last two innings, it has been Dilrwuan Perrera. The spinner had made a comeback on the fourth day of the Nagpur Test, where he conceded 85 runs in 24 overs and took crucial wickets of Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, and Ravichandran Ashwin, after a miserable third day. And today, the right-arm off-breaker struck early again with Shikhar Dhawan’s wicket.
The southpaw’s wicket brought up his 100th Test wicket in 25 Test matches, which no Sri Lankan has done faster. Even the legendary Muttiah Muralitharan had taken 27 Tests to reach the landmark and while Perrera was costly yet again today, conceding 97 runs in 21 overs, Sri Lanka might have found a guy to fall back upon at a time when the experienced Rangana Herath finally calls it a day.
Will Ajinkya Rahane even be on the South African tour?
Amidst all the one-sided predictable action that Indian fans have been seeing over the last two Tests, Ajinkya Rahane has been surprisingly quiet. Not only has been unable to score runs against a below average Sri Lanka bowling attack, he has also failed to stay at the crease for long. The Mumbai batsman has scored an unbelievably low seven runs in the last four innings of the series and survived just 25 balls against an opponent, who have been taken to the cleaners by the likes of Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
While the 29-year-old is considered to be India’s spine in Test cricket, who with his rich technique will hold their middle-order under pressure situations especially in conditions like that of South Africa, Rahane’s home average is as bleak as 34.44. While his average away from home is 53.44, he is not putting up a strong case for himself ahead of India’s big away season next year.
With Shikhar Dhawan fit and available, Rahane is unlikely to get a chance in the limited-over series and his previous feat of skipping Mumbai selection and go on a vacation overseas, just before the Ranji campaign, will not help him to get back into the domestic squad too. Hence, the second innings, if that happens in this Test, will be Rahane’s last chance to leave a good impression for the selectors ahead of the SA series.