India consolidated their position in the first Test in Galle as cameos from Hardik Pandya (50) and R Ashwin (47) helped the visitors post 600 runs in the first innings. In response, Sri Lanka managed 154/5 at the end of the day’s play with Angelo Mathews (54*) and Dilurwan Perera (6) at the crease.
Brief scores: India 600 (Shikhar Dhawan 190, Cheteshwar Pujara 153, Ajinkya Rahane 57, Hardik Pandya 50; Nuwan Pradeep 6-132, Lahiru Kumara 3-131) lead Sri Lanka 154/5 (Upul Tharanga 64; Angelo Mathews 54*; Mohammed Shami 2/30) by 446 runs.
Nuwan Pradeep and Lahiru Kumara’s impeccable bowling in the morning session
Although Sri Lankan bowlers were sent on a leather hunt in the first two sessions of day one, they did manage to get their act together to some extent in the final session yesterday. Both Nuwan Pradeep and Lahiru Kumara managed to alter their lengths and kept hitting the deck hard that resulted in Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara - not getting enough support from the flat nature of the strip. And this morning the duo continued their good work as they mandated a perfect line just outside the off-stump and didn’t allow them to open their arms. Eventually, both the Lankan bowlers were rewarded for their unerring consistency when Pradeep had Pujara caught behind for the first wicket of the day and Kumara then had Rahane edged one to Dimuth Karunaratne at first slip, shortly after. More importantly, this also set the stage for the hosts to pick more wickets in the morning session as they dominated the first session of the second day’s play.
Ravichandran Ashwin proves why he’s the No.1 all-rounder in Test cricket
Coming into this series, Ravichandran Ashwin had been in great form - with both bat and ball - as he had cemented his reputation as the best Test all-rounder during India’s long Test season. Today, Ashwin came into bat after the fall of Rahane’s wicket and continued his purple patch with the bat. The 30-year-old timed the ball beautifully and used his reach to good effect to punish the Lankan bowlers. During his knock of 47 runs off 60 balls, Ashwin dispatched the bad balls to the boundaries, while leaving the good deliveries with due respect. But perhaps most importantly, Ashwin’s innings did not let Sri Lanka take complete control of proceedings, despite taking a few quick wickets.
Hardik Pandya leaves a mark on his Test debut
One of the highlights of the ongoing Test has been Hardik Pandya’s debut, but upon his first visit to the crease, the 23-year-old managed to give a good account of himself. Not only did the Baroda batsman score a 50 on his debut, his innings was characterized by his usual aggression as he took the Sri Lankan bowlers to the cleaners with sheer disdain. Pandya managed to stitch in a commendable 62-run partnership with Mohammad Shami which propelled India to a mammoth first innings total of 600 in their first innings.
Bowlers put India on top
After the batsmen put up a colossal first innings total of 600 runs on the board, it was the turn of the bowlers to come to the fore as Umesh Yadav had Dimuth Karunaratne trapped plumb in front in just the second over of the Sri Lankan innings. Moreover, just as Upul Tharanga and Danushka Gunathilaka looked to stabilize the Sri Lankan innings, Mohammad Shami ensured a double whammy for the hosts as he removed Gunathilaka and Kusal Mendis in the 15th over. That said, it also marked another forgettable day at the office for the hosts.
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