India began the second day at the Galle test with caution. They were 55 runs behind the Sri Lankan score of 183 all out and the wicket still had the bounce and turn. 99 runs were added by Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli by lunch and Dhawan helped himself to his fourth century in tests. Kohli’s 11th ton in test matches was to come after lunch. The two centurions produced a 227-run partnership, which was the best third-wicket stand by an Indian pair against Sri Lanka. India finally managed to score 375 in their first innings and led Sri Lanka by 192 on the first innings. But if one were to look closely into India’s batting show, it depended solely on Dhawan and Kohli’s knocks and Wriddhiman Saha’s 60. Then there were 24 extras in India’s innings. It only means that the other 8 batsmen contributed just 54 runs in 375. Even if India wins the match, the chinks in their batting armor are alarming because from 255/2 at one stage, they could only add 120 runs in the end for the loss of 8 wickets. The good thing happening for India is the sordid performance of their opponents. After scoring a pitiable 183 in first innings, Lankans lost 2 wickets in second innings in a space of 4 overs and tottered at 5/2. India hold a solid advantage and they should not fritter it away, when they come back on Friday.
For two days of the first test at Galle, India held the decisive upper hand. On first day, they bowled out the hosts for 183 and on the second day, took a 192-run lead. Overnight not out batsmen Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli exercised restraint and avoided all risky shots so much so that the first boundary of the morning came after 50 minutes of play in the morning. In two hours, India scored only 7 fours and Dhawan’s fourth century in test matches was his slowest to come off after 178 balls. Dhawan’s partner Kohli was even slower as could only manage 17 off the first 56 balls that he faced. The Dhawan-Kohli partnership was the vintage test-match performance that reminded test-match lovers of the era long before the advent of shorter formats of the game. One reason why the two Indian batsmen exercised restraint was related to the pitch that was full of bounce and turn. In the lunch session, the first possible chance for Sri Lanka came after 9 overs on the second day. Kohli shaped for a drive off a Rangana Herath delivery but miscued it through the gully position. Fortunately for the Indian, the field position was unmanned. Three overs later, Herath almost had Dhawan but the looped up ball went wide off the short leg. Batting became easier for the Indians after Nuwan Pradeep released the pressure by bowling a half volley, which Dhawan sent to the ropes for the first boundary of the morning. When Kaushal came on, the Indians began scoring freely. Kaushal yielded 12 runs in the 53rd over and from that point onwards, the rate of scoring jumped up. Dhawan and Kohli added the vital 227runs for the third wicket and this partnership made the decisive difference in the end. Kohli fell to a questionable LBW decision at 255 and two runs and 9 balls later, the same fate beckoned Ajinkya Rahane. When Rahane went back, India had a 74-run lead. Wriddhiman Saha had arrived and luckily he had juicy full-tossed balls from Kaushal to deal with. The India wicketkeeper was only too happy to send those loose balls to the ropes. While wickets kept falling at the other end, Saha hung on to reach his first test-match fifty. He was generously helped by poor bowling and slackened fielding. Though Kaushal finished with figures of 5 for 134, most of those wickets were tail-enders, who wanted to enhance India’s lead. Saha had a 28-run partnership with Harbhajan Singh; 14 runs with Amit Mishra and 22 runs with Varun Aaron as India were finally all out for 375.
When Sri Lanka came out to begin their second innings, they needed to score 192 to make India bat again. The day allowed very little time and Kohli employed the trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra to open the bowling attack. Ashwin struck first with the fifth ball of the innings but Dimuth Karunaratne was deceived as the ball didn’t turn and hit his leg stump. Six balls later Amit Mishra bowled a googly that found the gap between Kaushal Silva’s bat and pad to shatter the stumps. Sri Lanka ended the day at 5/2, still 187 runs behind India.
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