Virat Kohli's 243 gives India the edge against Sri Lanka in Delhi

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Scored 25 fours in his innings of 243: Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli smashed a record double century to put India on top in the third Test against Sri Lanka, whose fielders wore anti-pollution masks in extraordinary scenes in a smoggy Delhi on Sunday.

Kohli cracked a career-best 243 but his sixth double century as captain was overshadowed on the second day after Sri Lanka complained about air pollution in the Indian capital, halting play three times.

The second session of the match was delayed more than 20 minutes as smog visibly worsened at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium and the umpires consulted the match referee and team doctors.

Sri Lankan fast bowlers Lahiru Gamage and Suranga Lakmal returned to the pavilion amid the drama, leaving the visitors short of fielders and prompting Kohli to declare India’s first innnings on 536-7.

Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas defended the decision to halt the match, saying players’ safety is of “paramount importance”.

“Obviously it is well documented that Delhi has high level of pollution. They had got extremely high at one point, we had players coming in at one point and vomiting,” Pothas told reporters.

“There were oxygen cylinders in the dressing room. It is not normal for players to suffer in that way while playing the game.

“Under most circumstances we wanted to play cricket. We just wanted to have some clarity on the safety of players,” Pothas said.

Sri Lanka players

Sri Lanka were 131 for three at stumps, trailing the hosts by 405 runs.

Angelo Mathews, on 57, and skipper Dinesh Chandimal, on 25, were batting when bad light stopped play for the day.

Mathews, who returned to form with a fighting half-century, and Chandimal steadied the Sri Lankan innings with an unbeaten 56-run stand after pace spearhead Mohammed Shami struck with the very first ball to dismiss left-hander Dimuth Karunaratne.

Lanky paceman Ishant Sharma then trapped Dhananjaya de Silva lbw for one as the visitors took tea on 18-2.
Dilruwan Perera, who scored 42 after opening the batting in place of injured opener Sadeera Samarawickrama, then staged a gritty 61-run partnership with Mathews.

Both Perera and Mathews were given reprieves, on 16 and six respectively, after Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli dropped catches in the slips.

Perera was eventually trapped lbw by left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja as Sri Lanka slipped furthur.

‘VIRAT DIDN’T NEED MASK’

But the day belonged to Kohli, who recorded his second successive 200-plus score to pulverise the Sri Lankan attack after India started the day on 371-4.

He surpassed West Indies great Brian Lara to become the first international captain to register six double centuries. Lara had five.

Kohli, who started the day on 156 and batted over seven hours, combined with overnight partner Rohit Sharma, who scored 65, to put on 135 for the fifth wicket.

The skipper, who made 213 in India’s thrashing of Sri Lanka in the second Test, pulled Lakmal for a couple to reach his milestone, raising his bat to acknowledge a raucous home crowd.

The Delhi-born star was finally trapped lbw off left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan, who claimed four wickets in the innings. 

“Virat batted close to two days, he didn’t need a mask! We are focused on what we need to do. The conditions are the same for both teams,” said India’s bowling coach Bharat Arun.

“I don’t think we were too worried about pollution. The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) schedules these matches and our job is to get the best out of our team. Focus is more on that,” he added.

India lead the series 1-0 and need only a draw for a record-equalling ninth successive Test series triumph.
England and Australia are the other sides to have achieved the feat.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Shaun Marsh ton puts Australia in driving seat in Adelaide as England close on 29-1

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Remained unbeaten on 126: Shaun Marsh.

England lost an early wicket before rain forced play to be abandoned on day two of the second Ashes Test on Sunday after Australia declared their first innings on 442 for eight.

Mitchell Starc struck in the seventh over, trapping Mark Stoneman leg before wicket for 18, to leave the tourists on 29 for one when rain at the Adelaide Oval brought an early finish.

Alastair Cook was on 11 with James Vince yet to score in the first-ever Ashes day-night Test.

Stoneman wasted a review, which only confirmed the umpire’s decision, ending a dire day for the tourists.

Shaun Marsh earlier notched up his fifth Test century as Australia tightened the screws on England, making captain Joe Root pay for sending the home side in to bat.

Marsh scored a watchful and undefeated 126 off 231 balls.

Australia’s score surpassed their previous best in pink-ball Tests, 383 in the first innings of last year’s match against South Africa in Adeleide.

Steve Smith called a halt to Australia’s first innings shortly after the dinner break after Pat Cummins was dismissed for 44.

Marsh went for quick runs ahead of the declaration including a towering six while Nathan Lyon remained 10 not out.

England suffered further indignity just before the dinner break when Cook and Vince collided going for the same catch off Marsh in the gully and the chance off Chris Woakes went begging.

Marsh and Tim Paine both vindicated their contentious Test recalls as Australia took charge.

Marsh, in his eighth recall to the Australian team, backed up his 51 in Brisbane to strengthen Australia’s position.

Wicketkeeper Paine, who received a surprise Ashes recall after being out of the Australia side for seven years, cracked 57 off 102 balls.

Paine, who took a couple of painful blows on his right index finger which he shattered seven years ago, shared in an 85-run stand with Marsh before he was caught on the boundary pulling Craig Overton. 

Paine had eight pins and a metal plate inserted into the fractured finger which caused him to lose his spot in the Test side back in 2010.

England, who lost the first Test in Brisbane by 10 wickets last week, cannot afford to lose in Adelaide, where Australia have won the two day-night Tests against New Zealand and South Africa.

England had several calls go against them on day two. Marsh had an lbw decision on 29 by James Anderson overturned when a review showed the ball would have gone over the stumps.

Anderson was frustrated again, much to the delight of the home crowd, when a review denied him again after Paine on 24 had been given out lbw on the field.

Peter Handscomb only lasted three balls at the start of the day before he was trapped leg before wicket playing back on his overnight score of 36 by a fired-up Stuart Broad, who gave him an animated send-off.

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Afghanistan looking forward to playing in Test matches after ICC Intercontinental Cup win

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Test cricket ahead for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai insists his team is relishing the opportunity of testing themselves in Test cricket after they bid farewell to the four-day format by regaining the ICC Intercontinental Cup on Saturday.

Resuming play on 201-3, the UAE were all out for 331 with Rashid Khan the pick of the bowlers with figures of 5-83. It meant Afghanistan needed 19 runs to prevail and did so with 10 wickets to spare by reaching their target in 5.3 overs with unbeaten knocks from openers Ihansullah (18) and Javed Ahmadi (2) at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

It was the second time Afghanistan has won this competition but greater tests will now lie await for the team when they showcase their talent against the elite international sides over the five-day format.

Afghanistan Cricket Board are still in discussions on when they will make their Test debut but Stanikzai says his players are ready for the “tough journey” ahead.

“We have a very tough journey to come and that is Tests of course,” said the 30-year-old, who scored a century in the first innings. “Especially when we play against big sides, it will be tough for us. We are getting prepared for that stage.

“The Intercontinental Cup is a good example because we have finished at the top of the standings. Three times we have played the I-Cup, and twice we have won the trophy. The guys are working very hard and in our domestic cricket, we have some very good talent coming through. As a unit, we are getting prepared very well for the Tests, mentally and physically.”

Despite their success in the longer format, which saw them win six of their seven matches in the I-Cup, he warned it will take time to make the transition against stronger opposition.

“It will be a little bit difficult in the first two Test matches that we play but after this, the guys will adjust just like how they have done in other formats. Inshallah, we will perform well and physically we are ready.”

UAE head coach Dougie Brown was impressed with the quality he saw of the champions and has backed them to make a big impact.

“They’ve got a good side, they’ve got a good method,” said the 48-year-old. “They have got a lot of good players and have strength in depth. They got funding and can spend time, money and energy in bringing through strength in depth which they will need when they compete on the world stage.

“They have obviously shown they can beat anybody. They just beat West Indies in a ODI match. Rashid Khan is world class. If he can get the right type of pitch against any opposition, he is going to be a handful. I think they will do really well. I think they will make great strides very quickly when they play Test matches.”

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