As if to prove that India’s five-bowler strategy is the most ideal, two pace bowlers and three spinners were included in the squad for the first test at Galle with great results on the opening day. India bowled out Sri Lanka for 183 with Ravichandran Ashwin leading the charge. There is hardly any history about losing the toss and winning tests in Sri Lanka. In the last 14 years, there have been only two occasions that visiting test sides have won after losing the toss. Virat Kohli could be the third visiting captain to do so if first day’s performance is any indication. Ashwin recorded the figures of 6/46 in less than 14 overs as the wrecker-in-chief played a lead role in bundling out Sri Lanka for just 183. In response, India made a shaking start losing Lokesh Rahul and Rohit Sharma within the 10th over with the score reading 28. But Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli steadied the boat with an unbroken third-wicket stand of 100 runs and India finished the day at 128/2.
The green Galle pitch offered bounce and turn even in the first session. It wasn’t impossible to bat as Sri Lanka captain amply demonstrated with his 64 runs and Dinesh Chandimal did with his 59. However, Chandimal’s knock was not flawless as he was dropped when on 5. Before Ashwin began the destruction, Ishant Sharma provided the breakthrough in the 7th over with a short-pitched delivery that had Dimuth Karunaratne in trouble. The ball took the shoulder of Sri Lanka opener’s bat and flew to gully, where Rohit Sharma completed an easy catch. Two balls later, the second opener Kaushal Silva was also walking back to the pavilion after falling victim to another short ball. But it was Varun Aaron this time and the edge was taken by Shikhar Dhawan in the slip cordon. Kumara Sangakkara joined Lahirun Thirimanne but lasted only 12 balls to fall as R Ashwin’s first victim of the day. Sanga pushed the slow turning ball, which looped up to the silly-point, where Lokesh Rahul grabbed a great reflex catch. Sri Lanka were reduced to 27/3 in the 12th over. Angelo Mathews had joined by this time but he saw the fall of Lahiru Thirimanne, who fell as Ashwin’s second victim in the 20th over. It was a tossed up good length delivery, which drew Thirimanne forward but the spin on the ball took the edge of his bat and Rahane took the low catch in the slips. Next man Jehan Mubarak played 7 balls but couldn’t get off the mark and he fell to Ashwin as well. The batsman pushed forward to an angling ball, which popped up to Lokesh Rahul at short leg. It was 60/5 for Sri Lanka now. Mathews and Chandimal steadied the Sri Lankan innings with a 79-run sixth wicket stand but in the 42nd over from Ashwin, Mathews tried to force against the spin and only managed a thick inside edge that was nicely held by Rohit Sharma at short-leg. Once the captain got out, it was matter of time before the entire Sri Lankan side folded at a paltry 183 in the 50th over.
When India came on, Dhammika Prasad bowled one straighter delivery in the third over to Lokesh Rahul, who was late in bringing his bat in time. The ball struck him on the pads and the new India opener was on his way back to the dressing room. In the tenth over, a slanted delivery from Angelo Mathews struck Rohit Sharma on the pads. Rohit was shaping to defend it on the front foot but he completely missed it. The umpire had no hesitation in raising his finger. At 28/2, India looked in trouble but a 100-run third-wicket partnership between Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli took India to safety. With 128/2 after bowling the hosts cheaply, India stole the honors on day one.
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