India vs Sri Lanka | Talking points from Day 1 of third Test

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India vs Sri Lanka | Talking points from Day 1 of third Test

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SportsCafe Desk


The first day of the third Test between India and Sri Lanka saw an even contest between bat and ball as the hosts scripted a stunning comeback to reduce India to 329/6 at the end of the day. Earlier, KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan gave India a solid start as they added 188 runs for the first wicket.

Brief Scores: India 329/6 (Shikhar Dhawan 119, KL Rahul 85; Malinda Pushpakumara 3/40)

India continue to assert their authority over Sri Lanka

India stepped onto the pitch at Pallekele with the intention completing a clean sweep in the series and things got off to a perfect start as Virat Kohli won his third toss in a row. Batting was supposed to be easy on the first day with the pitch looking dry beneath an even covering of grass. This time too, there was no change in the script as KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan continued to make merry against a listless bowling attack. Having said that, it must also be mentioned that the Sri Lankan bowlers didn’t help their own cause as they bowled an inconsistent line - apart from Vishwa Fernando to an extent, who bowled reasonably well pitting around 90 MpH - which only made things easier for the Indian openers. Dhawan was constantly being offered width on a platter and he kept cutting behind point for boundaries. Rahul too had ample opportunities to play his shots at will. Together, the duo managed to send the home side on a leather hunt yet again as by the end of seven overs, India had 42 runs on the board and they continued on their merry way as Dhawan  reached his half-century off just 44 balls and an over later, Rahul became the first Indian and sixth overall to hit seven successive half-centuries in Tests. Finally, India finished the first session in a commanding position at 134/0 with Dhawan and Rahul unbeaten on 64 and 67 respectively.

Malinda Pushpakumara spins Sri Lanka back into the game

The second session of the day started just like the first as Dhawan and Rahul continued to score at a good run rate. However, there was literally a ‘turning point’ in the game when Lakshan Sandakan produced a delivery that spun sharply from Dhawan’s blade before another took the leading edge of Rahul’s bat. More importantly, that prompted Chandimal to introduce spin from both ends as Malinda Pushpakumara was brought into the attack. And it paid instant dividends as the 30-year old, who made his Test debut only in the last game, went onto scalp three quick wickets for the home side as he sent Dhawan, Rahul, and Cheteshwar Pujara back to the hut to lead Sri Lanka’s comeback into the game. However, what was most impressive about Pushpakumara’s spell was the way in which he managed to deceive the Indian batsmen who are known to be very good players of spin. Moreover, this was also the first time in the series that the Sri Lankan bowling had managed to trouble the otherwise dominant Indian batting lineup. 

Kuldeep Yadav’s selection is the right decision going forward

The only change that India made to their side for the third and final Test was the inclusion of chinaman spinner Kuldeep Yadav as a replacement for the suspended Ravindra Jadeja. And though the youngster hasn’t bowled so far in the match, judging by the amount of turn that the two Sri Lankan spinners have managed to find on this track, Yadav will certainly enjoy bowling on the wicket at Pallekele. Keeping in mind that Yadav picked up four wickets on his Test debut against Australia in Dharamsala earlier this year and also performed exceedingly well on the recent tour of the West Indies where he picked up wickets on flat tracks in the Caribbean, he was a good option for Indian management to test the bench strength. Also, it’s a well known fact that he possess a good wrong one which he disguises really well and can use to good effect against the Sri Lankan batsmen. Subsequently, the Lankan batsmen will not be able to deploy the same sweeping strategy that they had adopted in the second Test against an unconventional bowler like Yadav. 

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