Cheteshwar Pujara (89 not out) and Ajinkya Rahane (41 not out) put on 105 runs for the 4th wicket as India reached 238-3 at tea on day one of the second Test against Sri Lanka today (3).
Pujara and Rahane batted with purpose and steadied the Indian innings after Lokesh Rahul (57) and Virat Kohli (13) departed in quick succession post lunch at the SSC.
After the break, Rahul and Pujara brought up their 50-run stand off 112 balls but the duo couldn’t extend it for long as a mix-up ended the innings of the opener in the 31st over.
Rahul faced 82 balls and hit 7 fours in his innings on his return to the team after recovering from viral fever.
Kohli then came to the crease and added 24 runs for the 3rd wicket with Pujara. It was a good passage of play for Lanka as their bowlers kept things tight.
It resulted in the Indian skipper’s dismissal as he chased a wide delivery off Rangana Herath (1-66) in the 39th over, only for Angelo Mathews to take a sharp catch at slip.
Pujara reached his 16th Test half-century off 112 balls, inclusive of 5 fours, as India crossed 200 in the 51st over.
In doing so, Pujara crossed the 4000-run mark in Test cricket, becoming the fourth-quickest Indian batsman to do so after Sunil Gavaskar (81 innings in 43 Tests), Virender Sehwag (81 innings in 49 Tests) and Rahul Dravid (84 innings in 48 Tests).
Pujara reached the landmark in 84 innings in his 50th Test.
The Pujara-Rahane duo crossed 50 off 54 balls, and then reached their 100-run partnership off 104 balls. Rahane impressed in the manner he soaked in pressure after India’s twin losses and stabilised the innings.
Earlier, India were 101/1 at lunch, thanks to Rahul’s half-century on comeback. He put on 56 runs with Shikhar Dhawan (35) after India won the toss and opted to bat.
Rahul and Dhawan started with aplomb as Sri Lanka opened the bowling with Nuwan Pradeep (0-31) and then deployed spin in the form of Rangana Herath (0-36) from the other end.
Later, Dimuth Karunaratne (0-10) came on to bowl his slow medium pace and surprised everyone, including the batsmen.
Dhawan was lucky twice as his edges fell short of slips in consecutive overs, off both Pradeep and Herath.
He didn’t waste time against the spinner though and hit him for six in only the second over of the match as the wicket turned out to be a true batting beauty.
India were already scoring at a fast clip and the duo brought up their opening 50-run stand off just 52 balls.
Rahul survived a review for LBW in the 10th over against Karunaratne as the ball appeared to be going down leg side.
Umpire Bruce Oxenford had to reverse his decision.
However, in the very next over, Sri Lanka benefited from DRS as well as the appeal against Dhawan was overturned too. The left-hander was out lbw to Dilruwan Perera (1-11). He faced 37 balls and hit 5 fours and a six.
The Karnataka opener then survived a close stumping call off Herath shortly before lunch. In between he played some sparkling strokes and reached his 8th Test half-century off 72 balls, inclusive of 7 fours.
It was the sixth successive fifty for Rahul in Test cricket, and he joined the likes of illustrious compatriots Gundappa Viswanath and Rahul Dravid in achieving this feat.
Thereafter, Rahul and Pujara made sure India crossed the 100-mark before lunch without any further hiccups.
India lead the three-match series 1-0 after winning the first Test in Galle by 304 runs.