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Virat Kohli’s positive cricket leads India forward in 2nd Test against Sri Lanka at Colombo

Virat Kohli played positively in his 164-run stand with KL Rahul of 2nd Test against Sri Lanka at Colombo.

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Virat Kohli scored his 11th Test fifty © AFP
Virat Kohli scored his 11th Test fifty © AFP

India were in early trouble in the second Test against Sri Lanka at Colombo. Indian players and management were adamant on playing fearless, positive cricket before the game. Virat Kohli led India with the bat again with an injection of urgency, positive cricket. Nikhil Popat explains.

There was a lot to worry for Virat Kohli when he landed in Sri Lanka. There was rain, which forced the visitors practice indoors. The tour match did not quite go right for him with a couple of low scores. There was a lot of talk though from him, from Ravi Shastri, about playing positive cricket, fearless cricket. There was however more fear in the way India capitulated against Sri Lanka at Galle. There was a lot at stake for India, they had lost a game they were destined to win had they just played the game the way they had played during the first few days of the Galle Test. Read: India vs Sri Lanka 2015, 2nd Test at Colombo: Key Battles

At P Sara Oval, Colombo on Thursday, Kohli was under a different test to counter. He had won the toss, on a good deck, but saw two of his best batsmen back in the hut inside the first five overs. He walked in with a score of 12 for 2 and under tremendous pressure. One more wicket here and India would have been way behind in the game with the in-form players already back in the hut. India needed a captain’s knock.

Dhammika Prasad had already taken a couple of wickets and was steaming in. First ball to Kohli, a short and wide one outside off. Kohli need not have played at it, but he did, he defended it solidly. There was intent from the first ball of the game. He was not chasing the ball, he got in line and defended it.

Next over again, Kohli was getting a good stride in, playing the balls like he would have in an One-Day International (ODI) or what it seemed like. He was hitting them hard but straight to the fielders. He knew what he was doing. There was a genuine effort to play normally, play on the merit of the ball and back his instincts. Read: Give Virat Kohli time, folks

The same was evident when he put two bad balls to boundary with utter disdain off the bowling of Dushmantha Chameera. But it was not all smooth sailing for him, there were moments when he didn’t want to play at balls but did so forcibly. There was a different momentum to this innings from the skipper. He was getting in positions early, leaving balls well but was still an urge to score quickly; the positive cricket had crept into him.

Prasad beat him with an in-swinger from wide of the crease, there was a loud appeal but no response from the umpire. Kohli was hurt, he was here to walk the talk. He did so against Rangana Herath, just in his third over, he charged down the wicket and hit the ball over his head for a maximum. There was a signal— there will no more nervy play from India as India made it through to lunch with just two wickets down.

Things though did not quite go as smoothly for Kohli. He got to his fifty in just 63 balls with a quick single. His 11th Test fifty, but he was starved of the strike after that, he was robbed of the momentum. The nothing push was back from Kohli as he poked at one from Prasad that almost carried to the slips. Just the two runs in the 32 minutes of play. Read: Virat Kohli’s lack of daddy hundreds a worry for India

But he corrected his mistake in the very same over, after a quiet walk towards square leg from the crease. It was Chameera again who kept feeding Kohli on the pads and Kohli was more than happy to put them away to the fence. Herath came on, Kohli hit him through the covers for a boundary. He was intent on not letting Herath settle.

But Sri Lanka then closed the field on the on side for him with three fielders saving his attempt to work the ball in that direction. Kohli did not give in, played patiently but the pressure of no scores got him. There were hurried defences, uppish drives. From 50 in 63 balls, Kohli was now 78 in 104 balls. He had scored just 28 runs in 41 balls, which included as many as five boundaries. It was then that Kohli spotted a run scoring short ball from Herath, he went back to late dab it through third man, Angelo Mathews spotted it, anticipated the catch and took a great one-handed catch to get rid of India’s skipper.

There was a century for the taking for Kohli, the positive cricket was working well for him. KL Rahul was now in the zone and that probably cost Kohli. The lack of singles, too many dots did not help and a great catch cut his innings through but Kohli brought India back in the game with the positive cricket that he kept talking about. India had a good outing in the first innings of the first Test as well but it was in the second innings that changed things for India and Kohli will want to ensure, his approach inspires the team to finally help him register his first win in Tests. Read: India, Sri Lanka share honours following KL Rahul’s ton on Day 1 of 2nd Test at Colombo

(Nikhil Popat is a diehard cricket enthusiast and a PotterHead till the end of time. He can be followed on Twitter @CricCrazyNIKS)

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