Friday, 19 July 2019

Virat Kohli sparkles as India make Bangladesh suffer

HYDERABAD: Murali Vijay backed his red-hot skipper Virat Kohli to pile on the agony for Bangladesh after centuries from both players gave their visitors a harsh introduction to Test cricket in India. India were 356 for three at stumps on the first day of the one-off Test in Hyderabad’s Uppal Stadium, with Kohli unbeaten on 111 and Ajinkya Rahane also still at the crease on 45. Kohli has scored three double centuries since July and looks well placed to compile yet another mammoth score and compound the misery of the hapless Bangladeshi bowling attack when play resumes on Friday. Bangladesh conceded 71 runs in the final 10 overs of the day as a rampant Kohli raced to his 16th Test century, capitalising on the solid foundations laid earlier in the day by Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara. Their second wicket partnership was worth 178 runs, with Vijay ultimately out at 108 and Pujara making 83, as the world’s number one ranked Test team looked to stretch their record-breaking unbeaten run to 19 matches. Taskin Ahmed, Mehedi Hasan and Taijul Islam shared a wicket each for the visitors but the day belonged firmly to their Indian hosts who elected to bat after winning the toss. “It’s always a great sight to see Virat play… He has taken his game to a different level at the moment,” Vijay, who shared a 54-run stand with his skipper, told reporters after the close of play. “I thought 340 would be a good score at the end, but he (Kohli) made the extra 10-20 runs possible. The way he was striking the ball was fantastic. I hope he can come and do the same thing tomorrow.”

Bangladesh started the day well as seamer Ahmed bowled Lokesh Rahul for two in the very first over of the match but soon the Indian batsmen started bossing the visitors around the park. Vijay and Pujara then laid the platform for other batsmen to build on as they took the attack to the opposition. Pujara, who hit two centuries in the recent England series, surpassed former Indian batsman Chandu Borde’s domestic record of 1,604 runs in a season during his innings. He was eventually dismissed by teenager Hasan who otherwise remained fairly ineffective against the number one Test team’s top order. “Pujara is already a great batsman, and it is really helpful for me to pick his brains… We both think in the same way,” said Vijay. Vijay, who survived a run-out chance on 35, smashed twelve fours and a six during his 160-ball stay before being bowled by Taijul early in the final session. Kohli, who had walked into loud cheers from the crowd before tea, then piloted the innings with aplomb. The skipper reached his half century in 70 deliveries and soon galloped to his hundred in the next 60 balls as the Bangladesh bowlers had no answers to his effortless stroke-making. “Normally I have seen that India score big runs against every team in Test cricket. It seems like a pretty flat wicket and our fast bowlers are inexperienced,” Bangladesh’s Ahmed, who is playing just his third Test, said. “On these wickets bowlers can’t afford to bowl lose deliveries. We have to bowl to our field.” Kohli, who went past the 1,000-run mark in his 15th innings of the season, got runs all around the ground as he hit 12 boundaries. Rahane, who was added to the starting line-up in place of Karun Nair — a triple centurion in India’s last Test match against England — was happy to play second fiddle to his skipper. India have won six of their eight encounters against Bangladesh, with two matches ending in draws. All of the previous matches have been held in Bangladesh which was awarded full Test status 17 years ago.

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