Vastavam web: Opener Shikhar Dhawan (94) and KL Rahul (73) restored India’s dominance with fluent half- centuries as the hosts erased a 122-run lead to nose ahead in the opening cricket Test against Sri Lanka, here today.Taking advantage of the improved conditions, Dhawan and Rahul raised a near-flawless 166-run partnership which put India ahead by 49 runs at the end of the fourth day’s play.
At stumps, India were 171 for one in their second innings with Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara (2) at the crease.Dhawan and Rahul were calm and patient in their approach, playing mostly with the straight bat but once the the deficit was erased, Dhawan opened up later in the innings to punish the visiting bowlers.A confident Dhawan used his feet very effectively against the spinners, specially against Rangana Herath, whom he lofted twice out of the park.
The left-hander also swept the left-arm spinner with ease, never allowing Hearth to find his rhythm. However, he ran out of patience when he approached his century and was caught behind while charging paceman Dasun Shanaka.Before losing his wicket to the only rash shot he played, Dhawan scored 94 runs off 116 balls and hit 13 boundaries, including two shots over the ropes.The only time the Lankans came close to dismissing Rahul was when he (on 22) drove straight back to Lahiru Gamage in the 12th over of the innings but the paceman missed the difficult caught and bowled chance.
Earier, both Bhuvneshwar Kumar (4/88) and Shami (4/100) claimed four wickets each as it took India 38 overs to scalp the remaining six batsmen.Sri Lanka’s number nine batsman Rangana Herath emerged the highest run-scorer with his 67-run knock in a splendid rearguard action which helped them grab a decent 122-run lead.Resuming at 165/4, Sri Lankan duo of Niroshan Dickwella (35) and skipper Dinesh Chandimal (28) began in aggressive fashion.In the second ball of the next over, Shami dismissed the Lankan skipper who played away from the body and a faint edge went to Wriddhiman Saha as India claimed three wickets in 10 balls in a superb display of pace bowling in the first hour.
Sri Lanka were accurate with their DRS calls yet again when Dilruwan Perera (5) survived an LBW decision given against him even as he was caught on camera turning towards the dressing room before asking for a review.It reminded of the Steve Smith ‘cheatgate’ episode which happened during India-Australia second Test in Bengaluru in March this year. The incident happened in the last ball of 57th over. Perera was yet to open his account when he was struck on backfoot by an in-dipper.The decision was eventually overturned as the impact was marginally outside the line and Perera survived but strangely there was no protest from Virat Kohli and Co.
long was incidentally officiated as an on-field umpire during the Bengaluru Test as well.Perera, however, could not make it big, becoming Shami’s third victim. But Herath remained solid in his counter- attacking innings to give Sri Lanka an edge.