Vijay hits ton on return, India reach 185/1 at tea on Day 2
Nagpur, Nov 25 (PTI) Opener Murali Vijay made an impressive return to international arena after eight months with a patient century as India comfortably reached 185 for one at tea against Sri Lanka on the second day of the second cricket Test, here today.
Currently India's best Test opener, Vijay (106 batting) looked hardly in any discomfort en route his 10th hundred, adding 178 runs with the ever dependable Cheteshwar Pujara (71 batting) for the unbroken second wicket.
With the pitch not offering any assistance to the bowlers, the Sri Lankan attack looked pedestrian at best as the seasoned Indian duo scored runs easily without even taking any undue risks.
The Pujara-Vijay combination has been a nemesis for bowlers in the Indian sub-continent with their 10th century stand in longest version. Vijay has hit nine boundaries and a six off 193 deliveries.
Another satisfying piece of statistic is that Vijay- Pujara pair score at an average of 73 runs per partnership --- highest among all Indian pairs across Test cricket.
Vijay teed off with a glorious square drive off Eden Test hero Suranga Lakmal (0/43 in 15 overs), who was far from his best with conditions not aiding his kind of bowling.
For someone who plays the drive fluently, Vijay was time and again provided with loose half-volleys, both outside the off-stump and on his legs for him to make full use of them.
The shot with which Vijay brought up his half-century was a picture perfect straight drive off Dasun Shanaka.
There was a lot of time at India's disposal and that's why the batsmen were in no hurry but still managed to comfortably score their runs.
Having scored 86 runs in the first session off 31 overs, the Indians scored 88 runs off 26 overs in the post lunch period.
Dinesh Chandimal's decision to bring in his spinners hardly yielded any different result as both the Indian batsman looked comfortable reaching to the pitch of the deliveries and nullifying any help that they could have possibly got off the pitch.
When Rangana Herath (0/26 in 15 overs) flighted one inviting Pujara to come out, he promptly did so by flicking it to the vacant mid-wicket boundary.
Pujara's straight drive off Lakmal was regal as he hit nine fours during the 183 deliveries he faced.
Vijay on his part gave Herath the charge, hitting him for a straight six. He completed his hundred with a push towards long-off of Dilruwan Perera's bowling. He achieved the landmark in 187 deliveries.
Dilruwan (0/51 in 9 overs) could hardly turn a ball. Worse, he was stationed at short mid-on for a specific uppish drive. Vijay did fall into the trap trying to flick Lahiru Gamage and the ball flew towards Dilruwan, who couldn't pouch onto the chance. The Tamil Nadu opener was batting on 61 then.
There wasn't a single wicket-taking delivery from the Lankan attack as they could hardly beat the bat.
With no lateral movement on offer and the pitch offering reasonable good bounce and carry, strokeplay became relatively easier.
The fuller length deliveries did not seem to work for the Lankan bowlers while the trio of Lakmal, Shanaka (0/31 in 10 overs) and Lahiru Gamage (1/33 in 16 overs) did not have enough pace to trouble the Indian batsmen when they hit back of the length