New Delhi: Skipper Virat Kohli’s magnificent 243 (287b, 25×4) was overshadowed by unprecedented scenes of mask-wearing Sri Lankan players, who halted proceedings thrice, complaining of poor air quality, on day two of the third Test, here Sunday.
The unrelenting Lankans forced India to declare their first innings at 536 for seven as drama unfolded in the post-lunch session during which play was halted for 26 minutes due to pollution concerns. However, the visiting batsmen had no complaints about air quality when they came out to bat after India’s declaration.
A fired-up Indian attack reduced them to 131 for three at stumps and they are still trailing by a massive 406-run margin. It could have been worse had Kohli not dropped Angelo Mathews’(57 batting, 118b, 8×4, 2×6) regulation catch at second slip off Ishant Sharma. Giving Mathews company at stumps was skipper Dinesh Chandimal (25 batting). The two have so far added 56 runs for the fourth wicket.
Ishant (1/44), Mohammed Shami (1/30) and Ravindra Jadeja (1/24) shared the spoils as the visiting batsmen continued to struggle in negotiating the Indian attack.
It appeared to be another day of dominance for the Indian team with their skipper breaking many a records (see box) but the antics by the visitors spoiled Kohli’s party.
Before the unfolding of the smog drama, it was a walk in the park for Kohli, who scored his sixth double hundred and became the first captain to do so, eclipsing West Indies legend Brian Lara, who had five. Kohil looked like going on and on before losing concentration due to constant interruption and was trapped leg before by Lakshan Sandakan (4/167).
While Kohli wanted play to continue, Sri Lanka manager Asanka Gurusinha informed the umpires that his fielders did not want to continue, prompting the home skipper to declare. This was after Indian coach Ravi Shastri had also come out to intimate to the umpires about what he felt was right.
Earlier, Rohit Sharma (65, 102b, 7×4, 2×6) and Kohli added 135 runs for the fifth wicket in the first session as Sri Lanka never looked like getting any wickets before Sandakan induced a bottom edge off Rohit at the stroke of lunch.
SL action angers BCCI, Team India
New Delhi: In an unprecedented turn of events, the embattled Sri Lankan cricket team held up play Sunday during the third Test against India, complaining of poor air quality that forced the hosts to declare their innings.
The first-ever incident of this kind in the sport’s 140-year-old history saw an international team resort to anti-pollution masks while fielding and then refuse to continue, stopping play for 26 minutes over three interruptions.
India skipper Virat Kohli, who was dismissed for 243 after the action resumed, was forced to declare as some of the visiting team’s substitute fielders too refused to take the field.
The Lankan move irked the BCCI and Team India’s support staff nearly called it a deliberate tactic, though the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)’s rating of the capital’s air quality remained ‘very poor’.
BCCI acting president CK Khanna said, “If 20,000 people in the stands did not have problems and the Indian team did not have any issue, I wonder why the Sri Lankan team made a big fuss. I will need to talk to the secretary and ask him to write to Sri Lanka Cricket.”
Asked about Sri Lanka’s protest, India’s bowling coach Bharat Arun said, “Virat batted close to two days and he didn’t need a mask! We are focused on what we need to do. The conditions are the same for both teams, we aren’t too bothered about it.”
Once an angry-looking Kohli signalled declaration, the Lankan players were booed by the crowd who chanted ‘losers losers’, as the visitors retreated to the dressing room. Interestingly when the Indian team took the field, none of the players wore anti-pollution masks.
Sri Lanka’s interim coach Nic Pothas cited the health issues that their players faced which prompted them to stop playing. “Some of our players were vomiting and we did what the medical staff said,” informed Pothas. He said that whether they will play tomorrow (Monday) will be decided by the match officials.
Press Trust of India