GALLE, July 26: Opener Shikhar Dhawan made the most of his lucky Test comeback to slam a career-best 190-run knock, while Cheteshwar Pujara continued his golden run as India posted a formidable 399/3 on day one of the first Test against Sri Lanka here.
Brought into the squad only after first-choice opener Murali Vijay was ruled out due to an injury, Dhawan made full use of the opportunity and played an entertaining 168-ball innings that was studded with 31 fours. This was his fifth Test hundred.
Equally impressive was the in-form Pujara, who notched up his 12th Test hundred, remaining unbeaten at 144 off 247 balls. The duo powered India to their highest total on day one of an away Test and also the best by a visiting team in Sri Lanka, bettering the West Indies.
They also shared a 253-run second-wicket stand, which can well be described the defining partnership for India.
It was a case of two contrasting hundreds but both served India�s purpose quite well against a home team, which was down to 10 men after middle-order batsman Asela Gunaratne was ruled out of the series with a fractured left thumb. Gunaratne was injured while fielding at second slip, trying to grab a catch of Dhawan. The visiting batsmen were in marauding form and amassed the highest number of runs on the opening day of a Test by a visiting team in Sri Lanka.
In the process, India improved on their previous record of most runs scored on the opening day of an overseas Test, which stood at 375/9 versus New Zealand in Wellington.
Earlier, Virat Kohli (3) was caught behind shortly after the tea break as he tried to pull a short delivery and only managed to edge to the keeper. Sri Lanka opted for a DRS review after the initial not-out decision, and got it overturned.
But Ajinkya Rahane (39 batting, 94 balls, 1 four) put on 113 runs with Pujara for the fourth wicket and saw out the remainder of the session without any trouble.
They crossed the 50-mark off 96 balls and then the 100-mark off 182 balls. India crossed 300 in the 63rd over, and then 350 in the 77th over, with the run-rate slowing down a tad as compared to the first two sessions when Dhawan was at the crease.
In the process, Pujara brought up his 12th Test hundred off 172 balls, inclusive of eight fours. Sri Lanka took the second new ball in the 81st over, but were unable to get a breakthrough even as play was extended to complete the day�s quota of overs.
Earlier, Dhawan scored his highest Test score as India reached 282/2 at tea. After lunch, Dhawan and Pujara brought up their 100-partnership off 130 balls. The left-handed opener reached his fifth Test hundred off 110 balls, inclusive of 16 fours. He had scored at an awe-inspiring strike rate of 91.81 until then, and accelerated once he crossed this landmark. In total, he scored at 113.09 during his stay at the crease. � PTI
India: Shikhar Dhawan c Mathews b N Pradeep 190, Abhinav Mukund c Dickwella b N Pradeep 12, Cheteshwar Pujara batting 144, Virat Kohli c Dickwella b N Pradeep 3, Ajinkya Rahane batting 39. Extras: (W-4, NB-3, LB-4) 11. Total: (For 3 wkts in 90 overs) 399. Fall of Wickets: 27-1, 280-2, 286-3. Bowler: Nuwan Pradeep 18-1-64-3, Lahiru Kumara 16-0-95-0, Dilruwan Perera 25-1-103-0, Rangana Herath 24-4-92-0, Danushka Gunathilaka 7-0-41-0.