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Pallekele Test: Dhawan, Rahul shine before Lanka fight back

Pallekele Test: Dhawan, Rahul shine before Lanka fight back”

Sri Lankan spinners struck with five wickets even as India rode on opener Shikhar Dhawan's whirlwind century to reach 329/6 at stumps on the opening day of the third and final Test at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium here on Saturday.

A win in the previous match meant, Kohli is now the only Indian captain to have won two straight Test series in Sri Lanka.

The duo scored 134 runs in the opening session and threatened to take Sri Lankan bowlers to the cleaners before Pushpakumara removed Rahul in his first over in the second session.

Malinda Pushpakumara took three wickets and Lakshan Sandakan two, leaving India on 329-6 at the close, with Wriddhiman Saha on 13 and Hardik Pandya on one to return to the crease today when the action restarts. But this one Sandakan pushed a bit wider, Kohli stretched but only managed to edge it to Dimuth Karunaratne at first slip. In doing so they took India past 400 in the 110th over, something that seemed unlikely at stumps on day one. On his decision Kohli said the pitch looks good to bat, calling it a "no brainer".

Pace spearhead Vishwa Fernando chipped in with the wicket of Ravichandran Ashwin, who was caught behind after a hard-working 31.

Resuming at 134/0, Dhawan and Rahul kept punishing the bowlers to swell their stand to 188 before Pushpakumara's tossed up delivery cut short Rahul's stay before home skipper Dinesh Chandimal's brilliant diving catch ended Dhawan's 123-ball knock, which was laced with 17 hits to the fence.

Rahul, who scored his seventh consecutive Test fifty, was the first to go after mistiming a drive to mid-on off Pushpakumara.

Test cricket may not be dying just yet, but based on the evidence of this series, different facets of the game need to be looked at in a bid to bring in some semblance of equality between two unmatched teams.

He put on only 10 runs with Kohli as India were left to rebuild their innings despite being in a comfortable position. Cheteshwar Pujara was never comfortable against Lakshan Sandakan, the chinaman bowler, and it wasn't long before he picked the wrong ball to cut and edged to slip.

Paceman Lahiru Kumara was very expensive in his first six overs, leaking 41 runs while Fernando also could not keep the batsmen in check. Mohammed Shami dismissed both openers as the hosts reached 61 for four at tea, trailing India by 426 runs and looking well on target to be swept 3-0 in the series.



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