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Kohli backs Indian grit after Sri Lanka draw

Virat Kohli praised India’s response to their first-innings collapse as they nearly forced a remarkable win in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Kolkata.

The hosts were skittled out for 172 on day two of the the series with the Sri Lankans able to post a first-innings lead of 122. But undeterred Kohli’s side launched a counterattack in the second innings and thanks to the skipper’s 119-ball 104 not out were able to reach 352 for eight declared, setting the tourists a target of 231 for victory.

India had Diniesh Chandimal’s men floundering on 75 for seven when bad light stopped play, forcing the match to end in a draw.

But while he would have prefererd the victory, Kohli was more than happy with his side’s fightback after a torrid first two days.

“It was important to make something out of the game with whatever time we had,” the India captain (pictured left) said. “Conditions changed drastically over the five days. We had to show character, having been on the backfoot on day one and day two. Credit to Sri Lanka.

“The team showed a lot of character. We didn’t look at the batting collapse. We believed in our strengths. If you didn’t have intent on this wicket, it would’ve been difficult to survive. That was the key. If we got enough good balls in the right areas, it would’ve been tough. All in all, we’re proud of how we finished.”

Kohli’s ton was his 50th international century. India’s other star turn came from Bhuvneshwar Kumar who picked up four wickets to give Sri Lanka a scare in a nervous final session before the match concluded with honors even.
Dasun Shanaka (six not out) and Rangana Herath (0) played out the final few deliveries of a nervous final period which saw Sri Lanka lose five quick wickets.

But, like his opposite number, Chandimal was content with the result.

“In these kind of conditions, the toss was crucial,” the Sri Lanka skipper said.

“We fought hard and competed well. (Until) the last session, we fought well and played as a team. Unfortunately, the last 10-15 overs brought a lot of pressure but we played good cricket and competed well.

“Unfortunately spinners couldn’t come into the game. We’ll have to learn how to battle, especially in the second innings. In UAE also, we didn’t bat well in the second innings against Pakistan. If we can do that, we can do a lot better.”
The action now shifts to the second match in Nagpur starting Friday. (Courtesy Arab News)

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