After a splendid 6-wicket haul by Ravichandran Ashwin on Day 1 of the ongoing first Test match at Galle, it was the batsmen’s turn to push Sri Lanka further into pressure as India managed to pile up a sizable total of 375 before being bowled out. Resuming from 128/2 on Day 2, India started off strong as newly appointed skipper Virat Kohli smashed a ton (103). Shikhar Dhawan kept the runs flowing from the other end as he too scored an impressive 134.
Shikhar Dhawan-Virat Kohli partnership puts India in driver’s seat:
Even though there was little pressure on the openers after the hosts were dismissed for a paltry 183, the duo of Rohit Sharma and Lokesh Rahul went back to pavilion within the first ten overs. What was needed of India was a significant partnership, and the middle-order pair of Delhi batsmen Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli gave the team just that foundation. The two picked up the score from 128 and went on to complete their individual hundreds, eventually putting together a partnership of 227 runs for the third wicket. By the time both of them made their way back, India had managed a comfortable lead of 111 runs with five wickets still in hand.
Wriddhiman Saha and the lower middle-order gather critical runs
Apart from these two, only Wriddhiman Saha managed to keep the team total mounting with a fighting knock of 60. Ajinkya Rahane was dismissed for naught as he was trapped leg-before by Tharindu Kaushal after facing only five deliveries. After India lost Dhawan’s wicket, Saha and Harbhajan Singh managed a 28-run partnership for the seventh wicket. Once Harbhajan got bowled, Saha get decent support from the other end as India eventually mustered up a challenging total of 375 to take a lead of 192 runs. Kaushal ended his spell with 5/114, including the important wicket of Kohli. He and Nuwan Pradeep (3/98) made sure that the tail-enders did not get much chance to build large partnerships.
Spinners send back Lankan openers before stumps:
Even though the Sri Lankan bowlers did a reasonably good job by restricting India under 400, they could not overshadow the significant lead that the guests accumulated. What their team needed was a solid start so as to make up for the lead, but their opener Dimuth Karunaratne was completely tricked by Ashwin off the fifth ball of their second innings. Six balls later, his partner Kaushal Silva followed him as Amit Mishra got his off-stump in style. The ploy from Virat Kohli to introduce spin upfront worked wonders for India. From 0/1, the scoreboard went to 1/2 and by the time the day’s play ended, night watchman Dhammika Prasad and Kumar Sangakkara were at the crease and the Lanka scorecard read 5/2, trailing India by 187 runs.
What to expect from Day 3?
With the unimpressive performance of the openers on Day 2, Kumar Sangakkara would look to drop anchor and build partnerships to cover up the deficit as soon as possible. With that in mind, captain Angelo Matthews would also want the Sri Lankan batting line-up to give India a formidable total and keep them chasing till Day 5 and draw the test, if not win. India, on the other hand, would try to wrap up the opponents’ innings fast and win smoothly to get a lead in the three-match Test series.
Sri Lanka 1st innings: 183
India 1st innings: 375 (Shikhar Dhawan 134, Virat Kohli 104, T. Kaushal 5/134, N. Pradeep 3/98)
Sri Lanka: 5/2 (Prasad 3*, Sangakkara 1*, Ashwin 1/0, Mishra 1/1)