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Middle order falters after Dhawan's ton

Last updated on: August 12, 2017 20:30 IST

After a record opening stand, the visitors falter in the final two sessions of the first day of the Kandy Test.

Shikhar Dhawan

IMAGE: Shikhar Dhawan celebrates his second century in the series. Photograph: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

Shikhar Dhawan continued his golden run, but a rare flop show from the famed middle order saw Sri Lanka restrict India to 329/6 in Kandy on the first day of the third Test.

Courtesy Dhawan's sixth Test hundred (119) and a record 188 run opening stand with K L Rahul (85), India looked good for a score close to 400 after opting to bat.

However, some fine bowling in the final two sessions by left-arm spinners Malinda Pushpakumara (3/40 in 18 overs) and Lakshan Sandakan (2/84 in 25 overs) helped Sri Lanka gain some foothold when stumps were drawn on the opening day.

The in form Cheteshwar Pujara (8), the second Test's centurion Ajinkya Rahane (17) were dismissed cheaply while skipper Virat Kohli (42) was dismissed after getting set.

Kohli had been reaching out to play the spinners from his crease and ended up edging the ball to first slip off Sandakan in the 79th over.

Ravichandran Ashwin (31) looked compact, but became left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando's scalp at the fag end of the day.

Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha (13 not out), who survived a DRS appeal for caught behind, then brought up India's 300 in the 81st over even as the visitors were in dire need of a partnership to make their morning advantage count.

Virat Kohli

IMAGE: Lakshan Sandakan, centre, celebrates with his teammates after taking Virat Kohli's wicket. Photograph: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

The duo added 26 runs for the 6th wicket and negotiated the second new ball properly as well. But Ashwin was caught behind off Fernando, two overs before stumps, leaving India with more work to do on the second day.

Earlier, it was yet another solid start from Dhawan and Rahul as they bettered the highest opening stand against Sri Lanka in away Tests, going past the 173 run stand between Manoj Prabhakar and Navjot Sidhu during the 1993 series.

Rahul missed out on another Test hundred, miscuing one straight to Dimuth Karunaratne at mid-on off Pushpakumara in the 40th over. His 135 ball knock had eight fours.

Dhawan scored his second hundred of this series off 107 balls. He added 31 runs with Cheteshwar Pujara (8), but the latter did not look very comfortable despite good batting conditions.

The left-hander was caught at square leg, thanks to a leaping effort from Skipper Dinesh Chandimal, a second dismissal against the run of play as he was just looking to cut loose with a flurry of boundaries.

Dhawan faced 123 balls in his knock and punished the home bowlers with 17 boundaries.

Pujara's discomfort at the crease came to an end as he was caught at first slip off Sandakan in the 51st over.

He put on only 10 runs with Kohli as India were left to rebuild their innings despite being in a comfortable position.

Paceman Lahiru Kumara was very expensive in his first six overs, leaking 41 runs while Fernando 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 the 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.

For Rahul, it was his seventh successive fifty in Test cricket overtaking Gundapppa Viswanath and Rahul Dravid (both with six consecutive half centuries each).

With Kuldeep Yadav and Sandakan featuring in the game, it is only the second time since 2004 when two 'Chinaman' bowlers are playing in the same Test after Dave Mohammed (the West Indies) and Paul Adams (South Africa) at Cape Town.

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