India batted themselves to a position of considerable strength on Day 2 of the second Test of the series against Sri Lanka in Nagpur on Saturday. Murali Vijay marked his comeback into the Test team with a hundred of the highest quality and Cheteshwar Pujara did what he does best – grind opposition bowlers into submission – notching up a century as well in the process. And rubbing salt on the Lankans wounds was Virat Kohli, who rattled off a strokeful fifty, and is already looking good for a hundred.
The Lankan bowlers, who were all over the Indian batsmen early on in Kolkata, looked toothless on a Nagpur pitch that has clearly eased out. They did not make it easy for themselves either, bowling too many loose deliveries, erring in line and length and looked bereft of ideas. So as things stand at the end of Day 2, India are a handsome 107 runs ahead, and looking good to add much more to that figure. And that's what they should try to do on Day 3.
The Indians have had a bat when the pitch is usually at its best and will continue to do so on Sunday. Therefore, they would not want to let the opportunity to accumulate a massive total pass them by. The more the better. Let's say 550-600 runs. That would mean India would be in the surplus by 350-400 runs, and then Kohli can unleash his deadly spin twins on the Lankans for about 10 overs on the pitch just starting to deteriorate. And from thereon, the Lankans would be fighting to save the match.
Another good thing about the position India find themselves at the moment is that they have just lost two wickets. In Kohli and Rohit Sharma, who is yet to come in, India have batsmen who can simply go ballistic, scoring at the rate of knots, while the likes of Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane can act as sheet anchors. Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha and Ravindra Jadeja down the order have the ability to give the ball a good tonk.
As on Day 2, however, the Indian batsmen need to be just a bit careful in the first hour of the day when the pacers can utilise the moisture in the air to their benefit, given that this is the time when the temperatures in interior India starts to drop and there is expected to be dew early in the morning.
But overall, all the cards are stacked in favour of India. They have Sri Lanka in their mercy and it will be a pity if they are to blow it all away.
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