India continued their dominance over Sri Lanka in the ongoing 3-match Test series. After winning the toss for the third time in a row, the Indian captain, Virat Kohli opted to bat for the third successive time.
The Indian openers, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul, continued their fine form and gave India the perfect start to the Test with Dhawan scoring the bulk of the runs. However, India then lost quick wickets, ending the day’s play at 329 for the loss of six wickets.
For Sri Lanka, Lakshan Sandakan, the left arm chinaman, and Malinda Pushpakumara were the stars of the day. The duo picked up five of the six wickets that fell.
The strong fightback from the hosts has set up the game nicely, unlike the previous games where the Indian middle order batsmen struck big partnerships.
For the visitors, there was only one change. Kuldeep Yadav was roped into the side replacing Ravindra Jadeja, who was suspended. On the other hand, the hosts were forced to make two changes as their two premium bowlers, Nuwan Pradeep and Rangana Herath, were out due to injuries.
Here are five talking points from the day's play.
#5 A minor collapse dents India’s chances of posting big total
Sri Lanka fought back really well in the post-lunch session
Things didn’t look good for the hosts after Dhawan scored a quickfire hundred as the southpaw looked ominous at the crease. With KL Rahul too scoring at an impressive rate, a big first innings total looked certain.
However, after putting up a record opening stand, both the Indian openers got out in quick succession. While Rahul was dismissed looking to clear the mid on fielder, Dhawan swept one too many and mistimed it to the square-leg fielder.
Chateshwar Pujara, who has had a tremendous tour so far, too had a rare failure. The reliable batsman didn’t look comfortable against the spinners and was dismissed after scoring only 8 off 33 balls.
Virat Kohli batted patiently for his 42 runs but couldn’t convert the start into a big one. Ajinkya Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin didn’t do much with the bat either.
After losing wickets regularly, India were reduced from 188 for 1 to 322 for 6.
#4 Spinners finally deliver for Sri Lanka
One of the major reasons Sri Lanka have struggled in this series is that their spinners, who are excellent in home conditions, have struggled to make inroads. The veteran left-arm spinner, Rangana Herath too was below par in this series and that hurt the hosts badly.
However, of the three spinners that played today, Lakshan Sandakan and Malinda Pushpakumara were excellent in the middle overs and didn’t let the Indian middle-order settle down. But Dilruwan Perera struggled against the in-form Shikhar Dhawan and went for plenty of runs.
This performance helped the hosts get a firm grip on the match. If they can pick up the remaining wickets cheaply tomorrow, they would feel they have got their noses ahead.
#3 KL Rahul registers seventh consecutive fifty in Tests
KL Rahul registered his seventh consecutive fifty in Tests - 90, 51, 67, 60, 51*, 57 & 85 - joint most by any player in Test cricket history and most by an Indian.
After enjoying a great run in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2017, the Karnataka batsman has continued his fine form in Test cricket. The stylish right-hander scored an attacking fifty and put the hosts under pressure.
However, his intent cost him his wicket as he holed out to the mid-on fielder while looking to send one over the ropes. The opener fell short of his hundred by just 15 runs.
#2 Brilliance in the field helps Sri Lanka pull things back
The Dinesh Chandimal-led side showed great character after being under the pump for the first-half of the day’s play. While there was not much in the surface for the bowlers, the fielding unit raised their game to pull things back nicely after an initial onslaught from the Indian openers.
Chandimal led from the front in the field, as he pulled off a sensational diving catch at square leg to dismiss Shikhar Dhawan. That was the turning points for the hosts as the rest of the team took inspiration from their skipper’s enthusiasm.
Later in the day, the young wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella took a diving catch to send back Ravichandran Ashwin who was looking in good touch.
#1 Shikhar Dhawan smashes another hundred against Sri Lanka
The dashing opener was once again the thorn in Sri Lanka’s flesh, as he smashed the ball to all parts of the ground. In his 123-ball 119, Dhawan hit 17 boundaries. This was the second ton of the series for him and the third against Sri Lanka in Tests.
The southpaw manipulated the field well; he would force the bowlers to bowl short by stepping down the ground often. At one point, it looked as though Chandimal was keen on stopping runs instead of searching for wickets.
Things augur well for India, considering the form of the Indian openers and the options they have.