Lanka spin­ners put In­dia on back­foot af­ter Dhawan ton

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

PALLEKELE:

Shikhar Dhawan smashed a scin­til­lat­ing cen­tury for In­dia, but Sri Lanka’s spin­ners struck five times to leave the tourists on edge af­ter the first day of the third Test yes­ter­day. 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.

Push­paka­mara rat­tled the In­dian toporder with his left-arm spin af­ter a 188run open­ing stand be­tween Dhawan, who hit 119 in 123 balls, and Lokesh Rahul. Left-arm wrist spin­ner San­dakan’s wick­ets in­cluded the prized scalp of In­dian skip­per Vi­rat Kohli for 42.

“The Sri Lankan bowlers bowled well and pulled the match a lit­tle bit on their side,” Dhawan, who cel­e­brated his sixth Test cen­tury, told re­porters. “We got a good start and still feel at the end of the day, 329 is a good score. Those (who) are bat­ting now are ca­pa­ble of scor­ing big runs,” said Dhawan, adding In­dia are look­ing to get 400 and more.

The left-right open­ing bat­ting team of Dhawan and Rahul, who made 85, took In­dia through the first ses­sion against a hap­less Sri Lankan bowl­ing at­tack. Sri Lanka cap­tain Di­nesh Chandi­mal then ro­tated his spin­ners in the sec­ond ses­sion and In­dia lost three top bats­men in just 11 overs. The 30-year-old Push­paku­mara, who made his Test de­but in the sec­ond Test in Colombo, re­moved the open­ers to bring the hosts back into the con­test.

RAHUL IN ELITE COM­PANY

Rahul, who scored his seventh con­sec­u­tive Test fifty, mist­imed a drive to mi­don and Dhawan soon followed his part­ner to the pavil­ion. Rahul joined Ever­ton Weekes, Andy Flower, Shiv­nar­ine Chan­der­paul, Ku­mar San­gakkara and Chris Rogers on the list of bats­men who have made seven con­sec­u­tive 50-plus scores in Tests.

Kohli tried to stem the rot dur­ing a 84ball in­nings, ended when he edged a San­dakan de­liv­ery to slip. Kohli and In­dia toiled in the last ses­sion. The in­nings run­rate plum­meted from around five in the morn­ing ses­sion to 2.76 af­ter tea. “It’s not easy to score runs out there and even out­field is not that quick. When Sri Lanka come out to bat, we are go­ing to make sure that we squeeze them hard,” said Dhawan.

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

“The bowlers came and bowled pretty well. Es­pe­cially the spin­ners. We let them to 320 (329) for the first day. I’m re­ally, re­ally happy with the spin­ners,” Sri Lanka’s fast bowl­ing con­sul­tant Chaminda Vaas said. “At the end, the way Vishwa bowled in the last two spells was also good.I think the way he’s go­ing he has a fu­ture and po­ten­tial,” added the former pace­man.

In­dia elected to bat first as they eye a se­ries sweep af­ter tak­ing an unas­sail­able 2-0 lead in Colombo. — AFP

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