Kandy Test: India opt to bat first against Sri Lanka

Hardik Pandya's inclusion has been the biggest positive says Virat Kohli

Courtesy PTI

Even though Sri Lanka did extremely well to restrict India's dominance on the first day of the third Test in Pallekele, the tourists still hold the advantage thanks to openers Shikhar Dhawan and Lokesh Rahul, who scored 119 and 85 respectively.

The opening pair of Dhawan and Rahul gave India a brisk start and reached 134 without loss at lunch.

India seamers made early inroads into the Sri Lanka top order after the touring side had posted 487 in their first innings on the second day of the third test on Sunday.

Rahul, who scored his seventh consecutive Test fifty, mistimed a drive to mid-on and Dhawan soon followed his partner to the pavilion. India's only concern coming into the Test was Kohli's atrocious form in Test cricket, something that seems to have been exacerbated by his captaincy.

After the rain leading up to the Test, Saturday dawned bright and sunny and Virat Kohli had little hesitation in choosing to bat. Read Also Umesh Yadav reveals he would struggle to control leather ball early in his career, credits coaches for honing his skills Cheteshwar Pujara leads India's run-scorers with two centuries and an average of more than 100 in India's three innings so far. An over later, Shami bowled it full outside off and Karunaratne prodded and the outside edge went to Saha.

Second-game spinner Pushpakumara also wrote himself into the record books, with the 26 he conceded surpassing Suranga Lakmal's mark of 24 (struck by New Zealand's Brendon McCullum in 2014 at Christchurch) for the most expensive Test over in Sri Lanka's history. The final wicket of the day fell as Ashwin departed for 31 off a Vishwa Fernando delivery. India's last hundred-plus opening stand away from home came at Fatullah in Bangladesh, when Murali Vijay and Dhawan put on 283. Sandakan dismissed Pujara for a paltry 8 as he nicked one to Mathews at slip to get Sandakan his first wicket.

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Leading the spin attack in Rangana Herath's absence, off-spinner Dilruwan Perera failed to impress as Dhawan danced down the track in only his second over to loft him over mid-off and then fetched another boundary with a pull.

Pushpakumara was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Sandakan took two and Fernando claimed one.

"Managing players who don't get a chance is also a skill".

With Kuldeep 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.

The hosts did not use Malinda Pushpakumara's left-arm orthodox before lunch, but tried Lakshan Sandakan's left-arm wristspin for a couple of overs.

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