Galle: Opener Shikhar Dhawan registered his highest Test score and shared a huge 253-run stand with Cheteshwar Pujara to guide India to commanding position at tea on the opening day of the first cricket Test against Sri Lanka, here today.
Dhawan (190), who was dropped on 31, missed his maiden double century by just 10 runs as India comfortably piled up the runs in 55 overs. Dhawan played a whirlwind knock as his runs came off just 168 balls with the help of 31 boundaries. Together with Pujara (75 not out off 135 balls, 5x4s), Dhawan tormented the Lankan bowling attack to stitch 253 runs for the second wicket.
After lunch, India crossed the 150-mark in the 34th over as Dhawan and Pujara brought up their 100-run partnership off 130 balls. The left-handed opener reached his fifth Test century in 110 balls during which he hit 16 fours.
Dhawan scored at an impressive strike rate of 91.81 until then, and only accelerated once he crossed this landmark. In total, he scored at a strike rate of 113.09 during his stay at the crease. Dhawan reached 150 off 147 balls with another eight boundaries as India crossed 200 in the 41st over.
Dhawan unleashed a plethora of sweep shots against the Lankan spinners as the home team looked clueless. His 200-run partnership with Pujara came up off 236 balls and then crossed 250 off 280 balls. Dhawan soon crossed his previous best score of 187 (against Australia scored at Mohali in March 2013) and looked set for scoring his maiden Test double hundred. But it wasn’t to be as he miscued a shot straight to Angelo Mathews at mid-off off Nuwan Pradeep (2/42) minutes before the tea break.
Captain Virat Kohli (1 not out) had joined Pujara in the middle at the break.
Earlier, Dhawan opened the innings with Abhinav Mukund (12) and the two batsmen got off the blocks very quickly. Despite a sprinkling of green on the Galle pitch, pacers Pradeep and Lahiru Kumara could not make optimal use of the new ball.
The opening duo scored at will as they rotated strike with ease. With a great batting track available, Mukund wasted a golden opportunity as he edged behind off Pradeep in the eighth over.
Sri Lanka introduced spin in the seventh over but it was not stand-in skipper Rangana Herath who came on to bowl. Instead, off-break bowler, Dilruwan Perera was introduced into the attack but he failed to make any impact. Dhawan was lucky to get a life as Asela Gunaratne dropped him at second slip off Lahiru Kumar. He was on 31 not out at that time and went on to score his fourth half-century off 62 balls with four shots to the fence.
India 1st Innings: 282-2 (55 overs)
Shikhar Dhawan c Mathews b N Pradeep 190
Abhinav Mukund c Dickwella b N Pradeep 12
Cheteshwar Pujara batting 75
Virat Kohli batting 1
Extras: (W-2, NB-2) 4
Total: (For 2 wkts in 55 Overs) 282
Fall of Wickets: 27-1, 280-2.
Bowler: Nuwan Pradeep 12-1-42-2, Lahiru Kumara 9-0-65-0, Dilruwan Perera 17-1-76-0, Rangana Herath 13-1-66-0, Danushka Gunathilaka 4-0-33-0.