India vs Sri Lanka, Galle Test, Day 3: Kohli, Mukund fifties stretch lead to 498
Fifties from captain Virat Kohli and Abhinav Mukund helped India stretch their second innings lead to 498 at stumps on Day 3 of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle on Friday. At the close of play, India were 189/3 with Kohli recording his first fifty-plus score in eight innings and unbeaten on 76 while Mukund was out on what turned out to be the last ball of the day for 81.
Sri Lanka, again, tasted early success having removed both the first-innings centurions Shikhar Dhawan (14) and Cheteshwar Pujara (15) cheaply. Dhawan was caught at point while Pujara must have been frustrated at himself and not just because he flicked a leg stump delivery to the leg gully fielder but also at the fact that no sooner he was dismissed, the rain arrived and the play was stopped and an early tea was taken.
The match was delayed by over an hour and finally resumed at 3:55 pm (IST) and from thereon, it was one-way traffic with both Kohli and Mukund hitting their strides, scoring freely. Off the duo, Kohli was the more fluent and at one stage was scoring at better than run-a-ball. Since hitting a double-century against Bangladesh last year at home, he underwent a dry spell which he left behind with a strokeful knock. More than him, it was Mukund who was a relieved man having failed in the first innings on his second Test comeback of the year. He was more determined, his defense a lot tighter and thanks to some gifts from the Sri Lankan bowler, raised his fifty off 78 balls with a clever boundary.
He, though, was trapped lbw Danushka Gunathilaka in the last over of the day.
It was a late success in the day for Sri Lanka who began brightly, removing the in-form Indian batsmen quickly after being bowled out for 291 and conceding a 309-run lead.
The template of the ongoing Galle Test can be briefly summed up like this: Sri Lanka start well, make some early inroads but India crash their party and snatch the advantage. Friday was no different. The overnight pair of Angelo Mathews and Dilruwan Perera came in with a positive mindset, punishing loose deliveries and stepping out against the spinners to break their rhythm. The plan worked and soon they had added 51 runs off 88 deliveries before Ravindra Jadeja, the most probing of all Indian bowlers, made the breakthrough with the scalp of Mathews for 83 and then removed Rangana Herath for 9. It took India nine deliveries after lunch to wrap up Sri Lankan innings, with Jadeja removing Kumara for 2, leaving Perera stranded on 92.
The visitors, though, decided against enforcing the follow-on.
The pace of Umesh Yadav and the skiddy, angular darts of Jadeja greeted and Perera in the morning. There was drift, the ball was gripping and edges were falling safe. But, in between the release shot, without fail, came. The pacers, when bowling short, were cut and pulled. Perera was more adventurous, reaching the pitch of the ball and lofting spinners over the ropes - twice against Ravichandran Ashwin and once to Jadeja.
At 204/5, it looked Sri Lankan batsmen have, again, settled in. But Jadeja kept building pressure despite conceding the odd boundary. And it got to Mathews who tried hitting him over the covers but couldn't execute the shot to gift an easy catch to Kohli at short cover to be dismissed for 83.
The partnership was broken but Perera went about his business. An over after Mathews' dismissal, he lofted and drove Ashwin for a six and four. And in the following, successfully reversed the lbw decision using DRS. Another six over mid-wicket took him to 49 and a couple off the next took him to his fifth half-century in Tests.
Perera was solid even after the dismissal of Herath, finding gaps and scoring boundaries. He added 36 runs with his captain and 39 runs with Nuwan Pradeep (10) who was bowled by Hardik Pandya for his maiden Test wicket.
Pandya bowled just two overs before the spinners resumed the duties. Pradeep was nearing a maiden Test hundred when Jadeja dismissed Lahiru Kumara to finish with 3/67 and with an injured Asela Gunaratne not available to bat, India secured a huge lead.
Brief Scores: India 600 and 189/3 (Abhinav Mukund 81, Virat Kohli 76*; Danushka Gunathilaka 1/15) lead Sri Lanka 291 (Dilruwan Perera 92*, Angelo Mathews 83; Ravindra Jadeja 3/67) by 498 runs