Skipper Virat Kohli brilliantly made up for his failure in the first innings by smashing a sensational ton in the second to lead India to a comfortable position in the opening Test of the three-match series at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. On Monday, Kohli came to the crease with a mission after the wicket of KL Rahul, he batted beautifully against the probing Lankan pace attack and raced his way to his 18th Test century.
After beginning his innings on a cautious note, Kohli took the attack to the opposition bowlers. The wickets kept falling at regular intervals but Kohli held one end and kept the scoreboard ticking. As he neared his century, the Indian captain changed gears, cut loose and smashed the Lankan bowlers to all parts of the ground. Kohli scored an unbeaten 104 from 119 balls, including 12 boundaries and a pair of sixes, helped the hosts to post 352/8 in the 2nd innings. India then declared innings setting Sri Lanka a target of 231 runs for victory from 47 overs in a late push for a result in the rain-affected series-opener.
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Interestingly, this was Kohli's 50th hundred in international cricket - the Indian captain has scored 32 in ODIs and 18 in Test cricket. With this hundred, the Delhi-born batsman has become the eighth batsman in the world ever to score 50 or more international tons. Presently, he is behind legendary Brian Lara (53) on the list. The other batsmen in that illustrious list are - Sachin Tendulkar (100), Kumar Sangakkara (63), Mahela Jayawardene (54), Ricky Ponting (71), Jacques Kallis (62), Hashim Amla (54) and Brian Lara (53).
However, Kohli took just 348 innings to reach the milestone and becomes the joint fastest in terms of innings played, along with South Africa's Hashim Amla to score 50 hundreds.
In the list of most centuries as a skipper, the 29-year-old batsman has equalled Sunil Gavaskar’s tally of 11. Also, Kohli's last century in Test format had come against Sri Lanka in Galle in July this year.
India resumed on day 5 at 171/1 aiming to score quickly to set up the match, but Suranga Lakmal (3/93) slowed the progress with three wickets in his morning spell. Lokesh Rahul (79) added only six runs to his overnight score before he was bowled by Lakmal in the fifth over.
At the other end, Cheteshwar Pujara (22) became the third Indian player after ML Jaisimha and Ravi Shastri to bat on all five days of a test.
But he added only 11 runs with Kohli for the third wicket before Lakmal struck twice quickly.
He had Pujara caught at gully as he failed to fend off a short ball and trapped Ajinkya Rahane (0) lbw four balls later, a close decision that stayed in the bowler's favour despite DRS review. Kohli added 20 runs with Ravichandran Ashwin (7) and 12 with Wriddhiman Saha (5). He reached his half-century off 80 balls and continued to look for partnerships.
He found support from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who contributed 8 in a 40-run stand before he was dismissed by Lahiru Gamage. Sri Lanka had 122-run first innings lead after scoring 294 in reply to India's 172.