After 188-run opening stand between Shikhar Dhawan (119) and KL Rahul (85), the other Indian batsmen lost the plot a bit as India ended the day one on 329/6 against Sri Lanka in the third and the final Test with Wriddhiman Saha and Hardik Pandya at the crease.
Saha (13 batting) and Pandya (1 batting) survived the final two overs of the day after R Ashwin (31) fell to left-arm pacer Vishwa Fernando with the second new ball just before stumps.
After winning the toss, Dhawan and Rahul looked in great form as the duo hit Lankan bowlers all across the park. Although Rahul looked edgy early on and was dropped on 28 – but from there on he made no mistake.
India’s score read 134/0 at lunch with both Dhawan and Rahul bringing up their respective fifties. Rahul also joined an elite list of batsmen who scored seven consecutive fifties in Test innings.
The opening pair also managed to register the highest opening stand by any team against Lanka in Sri Lanka. The previous record of 171 was held by former Indian pair of Navjot Singh Sidhu and Manoj Prabhakar.
When it looked that both batsmen will easily score respective tons – Rahul threw his wicket away when he failed to clear mid on and was out for 85 off Malinda Pushpakumara’s bowling.
But soon Dhawan brought up his second ton of the series much to the delight of Indan dressing room. But the joy was short lived as Pushpakumara struck again to send the left-hander back to pavilion after making 119.
Cheteshwar Pujara soon joined him the in the dressing room when Sandakan forced an edge of him and he was caught by Angelo Mathews for just 8.
Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli took India’s score to 235 for 3 at tea.
Just after the tea break – Pushpakumara struck against the run of play as he scalped Rahane (17). Kohli was then joined by R Ashwin in the middle and the duo looked solid in the middle. However, Kohli had been reaching out to play the spinners from his crease and ended up edging the ball to first slip off Sandakan in the 79th over after making 42.
Ashwin (31) looked compact but became left- arm seamer Vishwa Fernando’s scalp at the fag end of the day. For the hosts, Pushpakumara (3/40) and Sandakan (2/84) were the pick of the bowlers.
(With inputs from IANS)