SL vs IND, Pallekele Test: KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan post highest opening stand against Islanders in Lanka
This was also the sixth 150-plus opening stand against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka and four of them came form Indians batsmen. Adding to it, India's last 100-plus opening partnership in an away match had come at Fatullah, when India were playing Bangladesh, back in June 2015.
New Delhi: India's opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul ran riot over the hosts Sri Lanka on Day 1 of the third and final Test in Balagolla, today. With either batsman taking their score well past the century mark, the duo comfortably stitched a record-breaking opening stand of 188 runs at the Pallekele International Cricket ground. Record in the sense – it is the highest ever by two openers against the Islanders on Lankan soil. ( SL vs IND: 3rd Test, Day 1 – LIVE BLOG )
Winning the toss for the third consecutive time in the Test series, skipper Virat Kohli once again opted to bat first. Openers KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan stepped in and took India off to a steady and a controlled 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.
It came about in the 36th over of their innings. Sandakan Lakshan was into the attack. Over-pitched delivery, just outside the leg stump as Dhawan broomed it away past the keeper and sent it whistling down to fine leg boundary for a four. That had brought up their 175 runs stand then as they edged past former Indian opening pair of Navjot Singh Sidhu and Manoj Prabhakar. The formers had stitched a phenomenal 171 against the Islanders when the team toured Sri Lanka, back in 1993 for a three-match Test series. In the second match, Prabhakar had struck 95 while Sidhu notched up his century as India had registered a 235-run victory. Next on the list is Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag who had woven a 167-run stand when the team had flown down to the island nation in 2008.
This was also the sixth 150-plus opening stand against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka and four of them came form Indians batsmen. At 84 for no loss in the 16th over, the duo had scripted highest opening partnership at Pallekele in a Test match. Adding to it, India's last 100-plus opening partnership in an away match had come at Fatullah, when India were playing Bangladesh, back in June 2015. Dhawan and Murali Vijay had put forth an astounding 283-run stand.
En route to their commendable partnership of 188 runs, 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 Lanka's Kumara Sangakkara, Zimbabwe's Andy Flower, and Windies' Shivnarine Chanderpaul. However, Rahul once again missed out on his ton when he was dismissed for 85 by Malinda Pushpakumara.
Shikhar Dhawan, on the other hand, notched up his sixth 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 was his fifth century on foreign soil and he also equalled Virender Sehwag's record of most Test tons in Sri Lanka.
As for the match, Malinda Pushpakumara wrecked havoc sending three Indian batsmen back to the pavilion with Ajinkya Rahane being his last victim. Skipper Kohli is still at the crease along with Ravichandran Ashwin with India aiming for a 300 on Day 1 of the third Test.