Sri Lanka fight back after Dhawan century


Indian cricketer Shikhar Dhawan plays a shot during the first day of third and final Test match between Sri Lanka and India at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Pallekele on August 12, 2017. (AFP)

by Rex Clementine
reporting from Pallekele

Faced with a huge challenge following the absence of their lead bowlers – Rangana Herath, Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal – Sri Lanka’s second string attack did a commendable job to restrict India to 329 for six at stumps on day one of the third and final Test here at the Pallekele International Stadium yesterday.

Sri Lanka had a poor morning session after being put into field and India raced to 134 for no loss at lunch. But some tight bowling induced panic among the Indian batsmen and Sri Lanka were able to make regular breakthroughs.

The openers added 188 runs, the best partnership by an overseas pair for the first wicket in Sri Lanka and at that stage it looked as if Sri Lanka were destined to concede 600 plus runs once again. But they pulled back things remarkably well. 

Left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara was introduced to the attack only in the 40th over and he had an immediate impact removing K.L. Rahul off the third delivery he bowled. Rahul, who had been dropped by Lahiru Kumara early in his innings at mid-on was caught at the same spot when Dimuth Karunaratne pulled off a good catch.

Shikhar Dhawan, who made a century in the Galle Test, continued his good form and reached his sixth Test hundred in style. He stepped out to Pushpakumara and  drove him for four elegantly. 

Dhawan was superbly caught by Dinesh Chandimal at square leg when the batsman attempted the sweep shot off Pushpakumara.

Left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan gave solid support to Pushpakumara as the spinners shared five wickets between them. Sandakan playing his first game in the series did bowl a few loose balls, but he looks Sri Lanka’s best option to partner Rangana Herath in the longer run with his wicket taking ability.

Sandakan dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara, the highest run scorer in the series so far, when he had him caught by Angelo Mathews at slip.

Sandakan also claimed the big wicket of captain Virtat Kohli, who too was caught at first slip – this time by Dimuth Karunaratne.

Ajinkaya Rahane was cleaned up by Pushpakumara, who finished with three wickets while Ravichandran Ashwin fell for the second new ball to finish the day with the game evenly poised.

India have already won the series and are looking to wrap up 3-0. Only once in the history Sri Lanka have suffered a 3-0 drubbing at home. 


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