Sri Lanka had their best day of the series taking six Indian wickets but Virat Kohli’s team still managed to score 300 runs in a day, finishing on 329/6 on Day 1 of the third Test in Pallekele on Saturday.
After the hosts lost the toss and India chose to bat, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul got off to a blazing start, scoring at times at close to five an over in an imposing opening stand. Dhawan was the aggressor, scoring at run-a-ball at times but KL Rahul played some languid shots on his way to crossing 50 for the seventh successive time, equalling a world record in Test cricket.
But just when Rahul looked like he would finally convert his fifty into a 100, he went down the ground to left-arm regular spinner Malinda Pushpakumara with the opening partnership at 188 in 39.2 overs and holed out at mid-on. Shikhar Dhawan continued his merry ways and got to his sixth century but his wicket, when he was on 119, sweeping the same bowler and caught by a diving Dinesh Chandimal at square-leg, brought a sea change in proceedings.
Cheteshwar Pujara was dismissed cheaply by the left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan as the two spinners kept India quiet. Virat Kohli, who scored a dogged 42 off 84 balls with just three fours in it, stitched a 35-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane who was bowled by Pushpakumara for 17.
Kohli himself edged to slip a little while later and while Ravichandran Ashwin (31) tried to repair the damage with Wriddhiman Saha (13 not out), he also fell late in the day, edging Vishwa Fernando behind for 17 where Niroshan Dickwella took a stunning catch. Saha and Hardik Pandya nervously played out the remaining deliveries as India finished on 329/6 at stumps.
India 329/6 in 90 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 119, KL Rahul 85; Malinda Pushpakumara 3/40, Lakshan Sandakan 2/84) vs Sri Lanka