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

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

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SportsCafe Desk

07/26/2017

India dominated the first day of the Galle Test thanks to the splendid innings of 190 by Shikhar Dhawan and a century from Cheteshwar Pujara as India finished the day with 399/3. With Pujara looking solid and Ajinkya Rahane gaining momentum, the Sri Lankans have their task cut out for the day 2.

Brief scores: India 399/3 (Shikhar Dhawan 190, Cheteshwar Pujara 144*; Nuwan Pradeep 3/64) 

Shikhar Dhawan proves his worth in Tests

Shikhar Dhawan who had earlier missed out on a long home season was brought into the team after first-choice opener Murali Vijay was ruled out of the series with a wrist injury. The Delhi batsman latched on to the opportunity and made an impact on the game straight away. After starting his innings off with a quick single, the 31-year old rotated the strike at the outset of his innings while playing risk-free shots to score boundaries against Sri Lankan pacers. The Indian southpaw started his onslaught against the spinners forcing them to change their length according to his need with his mere footwork. He danced down the pitch at the start of every over against spinners to negate their spin while forcing them to change their length. Dhawan’s footwork created enough doubt in the spinners’ mind who shortened their line which was utilised to the fullest by the Delhi batsman who reached his century in only 110 deliveries. Dhawan smashing the Sri Lankan bowlers for 31 boundaries in his 190-run innings off just 168 deliveries and he scored runs by hitting the leather to almost every areas. However, trying to reach his first double century before tea, he lobbed a Nuwan Pradeep delivery to Angelo Mathews at mid-off. Nonetheless, it was an innings that put India in good stead and the Lankans need to spring the cat out of the hat if they want to stay in the game. 

 © Shikhar Dhawan's pitch map in the first innings
 © Shikhar Dhawan's waggon wheel in the first innings

Chesistance continues to dominate Test cricket

Cheteshwar Pujara came after Abhinav Mukund departed early in the day and started his innings in his signature style by defending the ball. Pujara complemented Dhawan beautifully by giving him most of the strike while utilising his time at the crease to build up his innings. But after that, he came into his own and smashed the ball brilliantly to score at a run-a-ball at one point of time in his innings. Pujara, pretty much like his compatriot, used his feet brilliantly to counter the Sri Lankan spinners and scored runs at will. Despite being two completely different type of batsmen during the partnership, the way they complemented each other was a sight for the sore eyes. The duo weaved a 253-run partnership for the second wicket that helped India put a big total at the end of the day. Furthermore, after the dismissal of Dhawan and Virat Kohli in quick succession, the Saurashtra batsman anchored the innings and in the process, scored a sublime century as well.

Sri Lankan players’ questionable fitness and lacklustre fielding

The Sri Lankan team continued to struggle with injury woes with Asela Gunaratne ruled out of the rest of the match with a fractured thumb when he dropped Shikhar Dhawan at 31 who further went on to score 190. Nuwan Pradeep, too, seemed to struggle in the first session of the day while bowling. Not only the fitness of the players but their on-field efforts, too, hurt the hosts dearly as multiple errors cost them a chunk of runs scored on the first day. Stand-in skipper Rangana Herath was the first who was unable to stop an easy single which eventually resulted in the addition of  3 runs to the Indian total. The Sri Lankan players made up for the lack of effort towards the end of the day making Ajinkya Rahane struggle for his runs. All in all, it was a forgettable day in the field for the hosts who could have piled up more pressure on the visitors, had they stopped the quick singles and managed to avoid giving away freebies.

Nuwan Pradeep comes to the hosts’ rescue

Nuwan Pradeep was Sri Lanka’s best bowler on the day as the 30-year old mixed up his deliveries pretty well to give Sri Lanka something to cheer for towards the end of the day. The right-arm pacer started the innings for the hosts and was right on the money with respect to the line and length and was rewarded with the wicket of Abhinav Mukund. He bowled a mixture of slower deliveries and bouncers to keep the Indian batsmen in check. Pradeep’s presence of mind fetched him Dhawan’s wicket as when he saw the Indian batsman danced down the pitch to attack him, he bowled a delivery wide of off stump, which caught the bottom end of Dhawan’s bat and ended up in the hands of Angelo Mathews at mid-off. Pradeep bent his back and caught Indian skipper Virat Kohli by surprise dismissing him cheaply for 3. Notwithstanding his heroics, Sri Lanka lacked another wicket-taking bowler in the team, who could have fetched them some wickets.

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