Dhawan, Pujara tons hurt Sri Lanka in Galle test

AP
Shikhar Dhawan smashes a career-best 190 during a brilliant Indian batting assault on the opening day of the first test against Sri Lanka in Galle.
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Reuters

Indian batsman Shikhar Dhawan celebrates scoring his century on the opening day of the first test match against Sri Lanka in Galle, Sri Lanka, on July 26, 2017.

India proved why it is ranked No. 1 in test cricket, finishing day one of the opening test against Sri Lanka on 399 for three.

Opener Shikhar Dhawan smashed a career-best 190 in an exhibition of aggressive batting as India took a firm grip of the game in Galle. He was well backed up by No. 3 batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who finished unbeaten on 144.

The two innings were contrasting ones. While Dhawan was quick to punish the loose balls, Pujara was the mainstay of the Indian innings, showing the ideal temperament of a No. 3 batsman.

The pair added 253 runs for the second wicket in 280 deliveries.

It was Dhawan's fifth test hundred while Pujara went on to post his 12th test century.

The tourists scored at 4.4 an over after winning the toss and electing to bat first. Dhawan's 190 came off just 168 deliveries.

Dhawan, a late replacement for the injured Murali Vijay, was dropped on 31 by Asela Gunaratne at second slip and he made Sri Lanka pay.

"My plans were to go to Melbourne and spend time with my family, do training and get fit for the one-day series," said Dhawan. "I was in Hong Kong actually on holiday and from there I flew back to India and joined the team after Vijay was injured. That was my plan and I think destiny had a different plan for me."

Gunaratne hurt his left thumb while attempting the catch and was taken to Colombo for surgery after scans revealed a fracture. Arjuna de Silva, who is part of Sri Lanka Cricket's Medical Committee, revealed that the allrounder will miss the test and one-day international series against India as the injury requires six weeks to heal.

Dhawan reached his century when he swept Dilruwan Perera for four. The century came off 110 deliveries, but from 100 to 150 he required only 37 deliveries. Dhawan was eventually dismissed in the last over before tea when he was caught by Angelo Mathews off the bowling of Nuwan Pradeep.

He made 126 runs between lunch and tea, the second most by an Indian batsman in a session, behind Virender Sehwag's 133, also against Sri Lanka in Mumbai in 2009.

Dhawan was particularly harsh against the spinners, using the sweep shot to good effect.

Successfully reviewed

Pradeep took a third wicket when he dismissed Indian captain Virat Kohli, caught down the leg-side in the second over after tea. The appeal was turned down by umpire Bruce Oxenford, but it was overturned after Sri Lanka successfully reviewed.

Pujara had moved to 144 not out at stumps and had added 113 runs for the fourth wicket with Ajinkya Rahane, who was unbeaten on 39.

"Of course I was disappointed that I got out for 190," Dhawan said. "I got out at the wrong time. It was the last over before tea. But the way I was playing, I was confident that I could clear the mid-off fielder and I was almost hitting a boundary per over.

Sri Lanka's manager Asanka Gurusinha said dropping Dhawan had been a key moment.

"We dropped a catch off Dhawan and then paid the price. Not sure what would have happened had that catch been taken. It was a double blow for us. We dropped the catch and lost a player too," Gurusinha told journalists.

"A fine effort by Shikhar Dhawan. We know he wasn't in the initial squad and then he came back into the side and showed the selectors what he is capable of. That is the way he plays. We also ended up bowling to his strength and he capitalized on that," he added.

The Indians had been given an early jolt when Dhawan's opening partner Abhinav Mukund edged Pradeep behind to Niroshan Dickwella in the eighth over.

Mukund, who opened the batting after Lokesh Rahul was ruled out with illness, made 12.

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