Tale of two contrasting Tests and gallantry award goes to… Sri Lanka’s Dhananjaya

 

By Kersi Meher-Homji

It is not easy to follow two Tests played simultaneously in Australia and India on TV. But the time difference of five and half hours enables one to watch them, firstly, a Test in Australia then the one in India with very few TV remote control switches.

But as the Adelaide Ashes Test was a day-night pink ball affair it started at 3 pm instead of the usual 11am kick off. Both the Delhi (India v. Sri Lanka) and Adelaide matches started at about the same time for Sydney viewers. So I (and I suppose many other Aus-Indians) had to use remote controls (Channel 9 to FoxTel and back) about 900 times from Saturday to Wednesday!

Now to cricket. Australia beat England by 120 runs in Adelaide to lead 2-0 with Tests still to come in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.

The third and final Test (which will be remembered for smog and air pollution) in Delhi was drawn but India won the series 1-0, having drawn the first Test in Kolkata and winning the second in Nagpur by and innings and 239 runs.

In Delhi opener Murali Vijay (155 runs) and skipper Virat Kohli (243) put on 283 splendid runs for the third wicket and India declared at 7 for 536.

Declared? I should say, “forced” to declare as Sri Lanka could not field 11 players because most were affected by the Delhi smog and there were many on-field interruptions. There were physios, trainers, managers, coaches and a doctor on the pitch discussing with umpires the pollution affecting the Lankan fielders.

Strangely, the smog did not affect the Indian fielders (of similar ethnicity as the visitors) the same day when Sri Lanka batted. Nor did it affect the Sri Lankan batsmen when Angelo Mathews (111 runs) and captain Dinesh Chandimal (164) added 181 runs for the fourth wicket.

Sri Lanka totalled 373 to trail India by 163 runs. India declared again at 5 for 246 (Shikhar Dhawan 67, Cheteshwar Pujara 49, Kohli 50 and Rohit Sharma 50). Needing 410 to win, SL was on her knees at 3 down for 31 at stumps on day 4.

They lost their reliable batsman Angelo Mathews soon on the final day and SL was 4 for 35. And everyone thought that India will win soon after lunch. Not everyone, certainly not the overnight not out Sri Lankan batsman Dhananjaya de Silva. He batted and batted despite severe injury and excruciating pain. Against medical advice he continued batting and retired after scoring a gallant 109.

My hats off to him! He inspired batsmen after him – debutant Roshen Silva (74 not out) and Niroshan Dickwella (44 not out) – to keep defending and drew the Test. But the series went to India with Kohli adjudged Man of the Match.

This was India’s record streak of nine consecutive Test series wins and it equalled Australia’s nine consecutive Test series win record from 2005 to 2008. Bravo Kohli.

Kohli’s record milestones

  • India’s dynamic captain Virat Kohli has created a Test record. He has scored most double centuries as a captain, sixin 32 Tests. West Indian great Brian Lara previously held the record; five double centuries in 47 Tests. What about the Aussie icon Don Bradman? He had hit four double centuries in 24 Tests.
  • Kohli became the sixth batsman to register two double centuries in consecutive Test innings. He had scored 213 in the Nagpur Test and 243 in the Delhi Test this week. The others are England’s Wally Hammond twice in 1928 and in 1933, Bradman in 1934, India’s Vinod Kambli in 1993, Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara in 2007 and Australia’s Michael Clarke in 2012.

As Kohli is only 29, sky is the limit for him.

 

 

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