Pallekele: India’s domination of the Sri Lankan bowlers continued unabated as KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan struck fluent half-centuries to take the visitors to a comfortable 165 without loss after lunch on the opening day of the third and final cricket Test, here today.
Rahul (79 batting) and Dhawan (83) were never troubled by the Sri Lankan bowlers, punishing them with as many as 15 boundaries in the first session. Dhawan, who scored at a brisk pace, and Rahul settled down quickly on an easy-paced wicket with true bounce.
Paceman Lahiru Kumara was very expensive in his six overs, leaking 41 runs while Vishwa Fernando (0/24) also could not keep the batsmen in check. So much so that Dimuth Karunaratne had to be introduced early into the attack and was the best Lankan bowler on display in the morning session.
The opening duo brought up its 50-partnership off just 55 balls in the 10th over and kept up this pace of scoring to reach 100 off 107 balls in the 18th over.
They remained in control even when the hosts introduced spin into the attack in the form of Dilruwan Perera. Lakshan Sandakan also bowled two overs. Dhawan reached his fourth Test half-century off 45 balls, inclusive of eight fours. Rahul reached his ninth Test half- century off 67 balls, inclusive of four fours.
For the latter, it was his seventh successive fifty in Test cricket overtaking Gundapppa Viswanath and Rahul Dravid (both with six half-centuries each).
India made one change to their line-up, with left-arm leg-spinner Kuldeep Yadav coming in for the suspended Ravindra Jadeja while the hosts made three changes to their playing eleven.
Sri Lanka have made three changes to their side leaving out injured Rangana Herath and Nuwan Pradeep along with Dhananjaya de Silva and replacing them with Lakshan Sandakan, Lahiru Kumara and Vishwa Fernando.
With Yadav and Sandakan featuring in the match, it was only the second time since 2004 when two chinamen bowlers featured in the same game after Dave Mohammed (West Indies) and Paul Adams (South Africa) at Cape Town.