50th for Kohli and MOM Bhuvi, Sri Lankans Find Light in Darkness

The first test at Eden Gardens was reduced to almost 3-day match. As expected it ended in a draw as the final day finished due to bad light that helped Sri Lankans avoid a certain defeat. Indians wanted to play, Sri Lankans prayed for darkness to get out of Eden Gardens with series levelled. Indians grabbed 7 wickets in just 26.3 overs, but the light meter forced a draw, bringing smile on the face of Islanders. Ironically, they had the upper hand in this test till 3 and half days with Lakhmal dismantling Indian batting line up. But, finally World No. 1 Indians had the last laugh even in the draw as the last day saw Kohli completing his 50th test century and Bhuvneswar Kumar grabbing his 50th test wicket on the way to his magical 4/8 in just 11 overs spell. With a draw, Sri Lankans at least removed the fear of another 9-0 defeat.

Statistics and Records

    After breaking records of decades in the last 4 days, 5th day saw Kohli being the first Indian captain to score a duck and a century in the same test. He also became the joint second quickest (with Hashim Amla in 348 innings) to score 50 international centuries. Between Kohli and Tendulkar’s 100 centuries, there 6 more batsmen.
    9th international century for Kohli in 2017, joint record as captain with Ponting and Graeme Smith.
    20th Draw in 41 test matches at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
    3rd Indian Cheteshwar Pujara (after ML Jaisimha and Ravi Shastri) who batted on all 5 days of a Test match.

The 5th day required one of the three to crumble. Pitch did not crumble. Indian batsmen, specially Kohli managed a good show too taking a lead of 230 runs declaring at 352/8 just before tea. It was the Sri Lankans who crumbled. Luckily for them, the darkness saved them from defeat although 75/7 in just 26.3 overs could be embarassing enough for any team, specially after taking 122 run lead in first innings.

Day 5 saw Indians resuming from a strong position of 171/1. But, Lakmal continued his impressive show of first innings and accounted in quick succession for KL Rahul (79), Pujara (22) and Rahane (0). At 213/4, with top order and half middle order in pavillion captain Kohli had no option but to first play to save the match. Jadeja (9), Ashwin (5), Saha (5) and Bhuvneswar Kumar (8) could not provide any support. Kohli managed to stay and his quickest test century (119-ball unbeaten 104 with 2 sixes and 12 boundaries), 18th overall saw Indians reach a safe score of 352/8 when they declared with Shami unbeaten on 12 runs.
Lakmal (3/93) finished with 7 wickets in the test. Shanaka (3/76), Gamage (1/97) and Dilruwan (1/49) were other successful bowlers as Herath failed again against Indians.

Sri Lankans had a target of 230 runs in a game that had a little more than one session left. But, from the beginning it was clear that their target was to find light in darkness. That they did manage successfully. Trio of Indian pacers managed 26.3 over till the umpires decided that the ground was too dark to bat. Sri Lankans were then 75/7.

Sri Lankan innings saw Samarawickrana gone for a duck in first over bowled by Bhuvi. Shami struck in his 2nd over as Karunaratne (1) was bowled in the same fashion. Thirimanne (7) became Bhuvi’s second victim as Sri Lankans reached 14/3 in 9th over. Umesh Yadav joined the party sending back Angelo Mathews (12) and the score read 22/4 in just 12th over. Captain Chandimal (20) and wicketkeeper Dickwella (27) had a match saving partnership that spread across 9 overs as they added 47 runs. Shami bowled Chandimal and Bhuvi sent back Dickwella and followed up with Dilruwan (0) in next over. With unbeaten pair of Shanaka on 6 and Herath on 0 umpires decided to call ends.

Player of the Match, Bhuvneswar Kumar had a magical figure of 4 wickets for 8 runs bowling 8 maidens in 11 overs. Overall he finished with 8/96 runs in the test. Shami had 2/34 in 9.3 overs. Umesh Yadav had 1/25 in 5 overs. Jadeja bowled an over for 7 runs.

This was the first instance of a test where Indian spinners did not take any wicket. Actually, they bowled just 10 overs in the test. Nagpur should be a different experience though.

Final Scores: Bhuvneswar Kumar (4/88 & 4/8)
Scorecard: Ind 172 & 352/8d, SL 294 (83.4) & 75/7 (26.3)

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