India vs Sri Lanka 2017, 2nd Test: Murali Vijay's lucky escape on day two is SK Turning Point of the match
After scraping through for a serendipitous draw in the series opener in Kolkata, Sri Lankan captain Dinesh Chandimal hoped for a miracle at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur. However, their dream of securing a maiden Test victory on Indian soil continued to go farther beyond their reach as Virat Kohli's troops surged to an innings & 239-run victory in the second match. As a result of their clinical triumph, India have taken an unassailable 1-0 lead in the 3-match series.
When Sri Lanka look back at this particular Test, they will know that their batsmen floundered a massive chance on a docile day one track. However, the visitors will rue a couple of missed opportunities in the field which could have at least brought them closer to competing with a dominant Indian outfit.
After missing a difficult close-in catch as well as the accompanying run-out opportunity, Sri Lanka reprieved Murali Vijay once again when Dilruwan Perera dropped a straightforward chance. Let us take a look at the circumstances surrounding the two missed opportunities and how the elegant opener made the visitors pay for their errors.
Sri Lanka fail to grab their chances
Upon folding for just 205 on a flat surface, Sri Lanka received a timely boost when Lahiru Gamage castled KL Rahul towards the end of the opening day's play.
In the company of the reliable Cheteshwar Pujara, Vijay looked to ease his comeback with a substantial knock. On the other hand, skipper Chandimal turned to two of his most dependable bowlers to build pressure. Suranga Lakmal and Rangana Herath did exactly that by operating tightly.
During the first ball of the 18th over, the tourists almost tasted the effect of their hard work. Herath lured Vijay out of his crease by generating tantalising flight. The right-hander did not reach the pitch of the ball. Although Sadeera Samarawickrama could not hold on to an extremely tough catch, he could not capitalise on the run-out opportunity. Even as wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella did not get into position, the throw missed the stumps.
After bringing up his half-century, the Tamil Nadu batsmen offered another opportunity. Batting on 61, he drove on the up to a slower delivery from Gamage. Even though the ball approached the precisely positioned short mid-on fielder at an easy height, Dilruwan Perera failed to cling on to the catch. With the effects of inertia propelling him, he got into a tangle with Pujara at the non-striker's end. At that point in the game, the scorecard read 102/1.
Vijay and Pujara lay strong platform
Not unlike any other world-class batsman, Vijay pounced on those two reprieves by building a match-defining partnership with Pujara. The 33-year old's graceful timing complemented his batting partner's unflappable temperament. Together, they drove Sri Lanka out of the game.
With a massive stand blossoming, Chandimal went on the defensive mode and allowed the Indian batsmen to dictate terms. Vijay relied on his asset of playing the ball delectably late even as Pujara looked to pierce the gaps with precision. The duo provided a befitting demonstration of high-quality Test-class batting for the vast majority of the second day's play.
Vijay brought up his tenth Test ton with a shot which could be construed as a classic example of his stellar touch-play. By the time he miscued a sweep shot off Herath, the stalwart had scored 128 and put on a vital 209-run partnership with Pujara. Their brilliant stand helped them break into a distinguished list comprising some of the game's most irresistible batting combinations.
India cruise to facile triumph
Despite Vijay's dismissal, Pujara carried on in his own unrelenting manner. With his new batting partner Virat Kohli insisting on injecting impetus into the innings, he ran harder between the wickets and seemed to move up a gear. The Saurashtra batsman proceeded to register his 14th Test century.
Having walked into a situation wherein a strong platform was already set, Kohli aggravated Sri Lanka's woes by hammering an attacking double century. He flayed the tiring bowlers to all parts of the ground. While the Indian captain brought up his fifth double ton to slot in alongside Brian Lara, Rohit Sharma piled on the visitors' agony by slamming his first Test century in over four years.
After declaring the innings on the back of a gigantic 405-run first-innings lead, India continued to stamp their authority on the match by relentlessly maintaining their stranglehold on the hapless Sri Lankan unit. With ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin scything through the batting lineup to become the fastes bowler in Test history to pick up 300 wickets, the hosts routed their opponents for just 166 in the second innings and cruised to an emphatic innings triumph.