New Delhi: Shikhar Dhawan once again impressed the crowd today with a thrilling display of batting on Day 1 of the third and final Test match against Sri Laka, at Pallekele, as he notched up his sixth Test century. And with that, the records list made a slight shift. ( SL vs IND: 3rd Test, Day 1 – LIVE BLOG )
Winning the toss for the third consecutive time in the series, Indian skipper Virat Kohli resolved to batting in Balagolla. The two openers KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan stepped in to take India off to a steady start. Boundaries seeped in, misfields served as a fortune for either as the two rampaged through to post an impressive 188-run stand at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium. Stats speak – it is the highest opening pair stand against the Islanders on Lankan soil.
En route to their commendable partnership, KL Rahul notched up his eighth Test fifty as the right-hander equalled the world record for most consecutive 50-plus scores in the longer format of the game. The 25-year-old became the only Indian on the list, with his seven such knocks, standing alongside some of the greats like Kumara Sangakkara, Andy Flower and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. However, the Karnataka-based cricketer once again missed out on his ton when he was dismissed for 85 by Malinda Pushpakumara.
Shikhar Dhawan, on the other hand, completed his Test century. Despite being way too edgy throughout his innings, the left-hander struck his fourth Test fifty and then converted it to a century, moments after Rahul's dismissal.
It came about in the 42nd over of their innings. Pushpakumara was into the attack. Shimmied down the track and powered it through the covers to bring up his Test century in style. A soon the hands went up in his classic celebration style as the Indian team in the dug out stood up to applaud Dhawan.
This was his third Test century in Sri Lanka and fifth overall on foreign soil. Stats speak once again – the left-hander became the first Indian opener to score two centuries in an away Test series since Rahul Dravid in 2011. The Wall had smashed 103 runs in the first innings of the first Test against England at Lord's and then again in the second Test, which was at Trent Bridge. He had then struck 117 runs from 235 deliveries. Owing to the numbers, he now stands alongside Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag on the same list.
Adding to it, the southpaw also stands second on the list of most hundreds by an Indian batsman in Sri Lanka. Virender Sehwag, Cheteshwar Pujara and Dhawan all have three tons to their name, while Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar still leads the chart has five such knocks.
As for the game, Dhawan fell victim to Pushpakumara to depart for 119 off 123 deliveries. Pujara too had a shorter innings with just eight runs to contribute. Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane are presently at the crease while the hosts are looking for a fightback.