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KOLKATA: Skipper Virat Kohli scored his 50th international century on Monday as India gave Sri Lanka a major scare before the first Test ended in a nerve-racking draw.
Sri Lanka were reduced to 75-7 — with paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar taking four wickets — as they chased 231 for victory.
Under intense pressure, Dasun Shanaka (six not out) and Rangana Herath (0) nervously played out the final few deliveries before bad light at the Eden Gardens came to the rescue.
Kohli’s 119-ball 104 not out had put India on top and allowed them to declare their second innings on 352-8. The captain hit 12 fours and two sixes as he flayed the bowling.
“Feels good,” Kohli said of his 18th Test century, to add to his 32 One-day Internationals centuries for India.
“My journey hasn’t been long but I want to continue contributing, especially in situations like these,” the 29-year-old captain said. “If I can step up and perform, that will give me more pleasure than thinking about the number of hundreds I have. The mindset is always to go forward and help the team forward, and win Test matches.”
Kumar struck in the very first over when Sadeera Samarawickrama chopped a delivery onto his stumps and was out for 0.
Mohammed Shami then had left-hander Lahiru Thirimanne bowled for one as the visitors slipped to 2-2 in 3.3 overs.
Umesh Yadav, India’s third seamer, joined in by trapping former Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews lbw for 12.
The match became even more tense when Shami bowled current Test skipper Dinesh Chandimal for 20 and Kumar, who returned impressive match figures of 8-96, trapped Niroshan Dickwella lbw for 27.
“He’s grabbing his chances and is a massive contender to start every Test match for India. He’ll do us good in overseas conditions and not just in home conditions,” Kohli said of India’s man-of-the-match. “He’s going to be an important part of our plan going forward in all formats.”
The hosts had resumed the day on 171-1 after Lokesh Rahul (79) and Shikhar Dhawan (94) staged a 166-run opening stand that saw India overcome a 122-run first innings deficit.
Sri Lanka’s fast bowlers Suranga Lakmal and Shanaka took three wickets each to rattle the Indian top and middle-order.
But Kohli displayed his class in taming the attack towards the end of the innings.
He let out a roar and pumped his fist after getting to 100 with a six off Lakmal, who ended with match figures of 7-119.
India’s Cheteshwar Pujara, who fell to Lakmal in the morning session, joined an elite list to have batted on all five days of a Test.
Pujara, who was the top-scorer with 52 in India’s first innings 172, put on his batting pads on each day of the game, which was marred by bad weather.
Only 32.5 overs were possible on the first two days before the weather cleared for the final three.
Sri Lanka’s premier spin bowler Herath also made an impact — this time with the bat — hitting 67 in Sri Lanka’s first innings of 294.
“I’m really happy that Rangana scored the runs but unfortunately spinners didn’t come into play. We’ll have to learn to bat in the second innings,” said Chandimal. “[Pace spearhead] Lakmal is unbelievable, especially over the last one or two years. He’s one who you can trust as a captain.”
The second of the three Tests start in Nagpur on Friday.
INDIA (1st Innings) 172 (C.A. Pujara 52; R.A.S. Lakmal 4-26).
SRI LANKA (1st Innings) 294 (H.M.R.K.B. Herath 67, A.D. Mathews 52, H.D.R.L. Thirimanne 51; B. Kumar 4-88, Mohammed Shami 4-100).
INDIA (2nd Innings, overnight 171-1):
K.L. Rahul b Lakmal 79
S. Dhawan c Dickwella b Shanaka 94
C.A. Pujara c Perera b Lakmal 22
V. Kohli not out 104
A.M. Rahane lbw b Lakmal 0
R.A. Jadeja c Thirimanne b Perera 9
R. Ashwin b Shanaka 7
W.P. Saha c S’wickrama b Shanaka 5
B. Kumar c Perera b Gamage 8
Mohammed Shami not out 12
EXTRAS (B-7, LB-1, W-3, NB-1) 12
TOTAL (for eight wkts decl, 88.4 overs) 352
FALL OF WKTS: 1-166, 2-192, 3-213, 4-213, 5-249, 6-269, 7-281, 8-321.
BOWLING: Lakmal 24.4-4-93-3 (1w); Gamage 23-2-97-1 (1nb); Shanaka 22-1-76-3 (2w); Perera 13-2-49-1; Herath 6-1-29-0.
SRI LANKA (2nd Innings):
S. Samarawickrama b Kumar 0
F.D.M. Karunaratne b Shami 1
H.D.R.L. Thirimanne c Rahane b Kumar 7
A.D. Mathews lbw b Yadav 12
L.D. Chandimal b Shami 20
N. Dickwella lbw b Kumar 27
M.D. Shanaka not out 6
M.K.D. Perera b Kumar 0
H.M.R.K.B. Herath not out 0
EXTRAS (LB-1, NB-1) 2
TOTAL (for seven wkts, 26.3 overs) 75
FALL OF WKTS: 1-0, 2-2, 3-14, 4-22, 5-69, 6-69, 7-75.
BOWLING: Kumar 11-8-8-4; Mohammed Shami 9.3-4-34-2 (1nb); Yadav 5-0-25-1; Jadeja 1-0-7-0.
RESULT: Match drawn; three-match levelled at 0-0.
UMPIRE: R.A. Kettleborough (England)/J.S. Wilson (West Indies) and N.J. Llong (England).
TV UMPIRE: Wilson/A.K. Chaudhary (India).
MATCH REFEREE: D.C. Boon (Australia).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
SECOND TEST: Nagpur, Nov 24-28.
THIRD TEST: Delhi, Dec 2-6.