Dynamic Dhawan

Published : 8:50 am  July 27, 2017 | No comments so far |  | 


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First Test at Galle

blows Sri Lanka away

Pujara remains unbeaten on 144


Shikhar Dhawan plays a shot 


By Shehan Daniel reporting from Galle

Contrasting centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara set an ominous tone for the series ahead on the first day of the first Test between Sri Lanka and India which began at the Galle International Stadium yesterday. 

Pujara was unbeaten on 144 at stumps off 246 deliveries, with India on 399 for three. But his typically patient innings had been overshadowed earlier in the day by an unrelenting assault from Dhawan who marked his return to the Indian Test Team with 190 in just 168 balls. 

Dhawan last played in a Test in October last year, was left out in India’s last 11 matches and was not even considered a first choice opener for this series. 

He was included only after Murali Vijay ruled himself out of the tour. But he could not have asked for better conditions for a return, against a toothless bowling attack on a pitch that was highly in favour of the batsmen.

Having reached his half-century in 62 balls, Dhawan needed just a further 85 deliveries to get to 150 – scoring his fifth Test century along the way – and was motoring towards his first double hundred when he was caught 27 balls later in the final over before tea.  
Pujara, in contrast, got to his fifty in 80 balls, before reaching his 12th Test ton 92 deliveries later, seeing out the day with Ajinkya Rahane who was unbeaten on 39, together posting India’s second 100-run partnership. 

Dhawan, and to some extent Pujara, made good use of his feet to nullify the threat of the hosts’ spinners, with Dilruwan Perera and Rangana Herath having ended the day having conceding 195 runs off their 49 wicketless overs. 

Out of the five bowlers Sri Lanka used, Nuwan Pradeep was the most successful, taking all three wickets for 64 runs in his 18 overs. 
India Captain Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to bat first and the second wicket-partnership of Dhawan and Pujara ensured that India had the early advantage by the end of the first session. 


The pair had put on an 88-run stand by lunch, having reached their first milestone – 50 runs – in just 59 balls. 
If Sri Lanka’s rotten morning could have been epitomised by one moment, it was what happened in the last ball of the 14th over. 
Lahiru Kumara, who had been wayward and ineffective in the morning, managed to induce an edge from Dhawan, then on 31, which flew to Asela Gunaratne at second slip. 

Diving to his left Gunaratne failed to get his hand behind the ball as it rammed into his thumb – the all-rounder exiting the field and later diagnosed with a fractured left thumb. 

Sri Lanka’s only breakthrough in that session came thanks to a change of ends, when immediately after switching to the Galle Fort end at the start of the eighth over Pradeep drew an edge from Abhinav Mukund, which was caught behind by Niroshan Dickwella. 
And just like in the first session Sri Lanka had just one success in the second when the marauding Dhawan was dismissed the only way it seemed possible; a slip-up by his own hand. 

Two balls after crossing his career-best in Tests with his 31st boundary Dhawan attempted to clear Pradeep over the infield. 

But he couldn’t beat Angelo Mathews at mid-off as it also ended the 253-run second-wicket partnership with 127 of those runs coming through Dhawan in the second session alone. 

Such was India’s dominance that the wicket of Kohli, who was out soon after when he was caught behind 10 balls after tea for three, was of little consequence, with Sri Lanka needing the help of a review to overturn Umpire Bruce Oxenford’s on-field call.