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First Test: India in commanding position on Day 3


Galle, July 28: India rode on half centuries from skipper Virat Kohli and opener Abhinav Mukund to post 189/3 in their second innings and extend their lead to 498 at stumps on the third day of the opening Test against Sri Lanka here on Friday.

Joining forces after the early departure of the first innings centurions Shikhar Dhawan (14) and Cheteshwar Pujara (15), Kohli and Mukund put together 133 runs for the third wicket as India found themselves in a commanding position.

Kohli was unbeaten on 76 at stumps, having stroked five boundaries in the 114 deliveries he has faced so far.

Mukund scored 81 off 116 balls with eight hits to the fence before being trapped leg before by Danushka Gunathilaka off the last delivery of the day.

Earlier, India decided against enforcing the follow-on even after taking a mammoth 309-run first innings lead. This was the biggest first innings lead by India on Lankan soil.

Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja was the pick of the Indian bowlers with figures of 3/67, as the home side was bundled out for 291 just after the lunch break.

The Indians were off to a rocky start in their second essay with Shikhar Dhawan — star of the Indian first innings — virtually gifting his wicket to Dilruwan Perera by offering an easy catch to backward point.

Mukund and Cheteshwar Pujara then added 37 runs between them before Lankan pacer Lahiru Kumara dismissed the latter thanks to a nice diving effort by Kusal Mendis at leg gully.

The Indians proceeded to score 56/2 in their second innings before rain forced the players off the field a little more than an hour into the post-lunch session.

It started to pour even as Pujara was climbing up the stairs to the pavilion, forcing the groundsmen to rush in with the covers. It would take almost two hours for play to resume.

Earlier, the Lankans resumed at 289/8 after the lunch break and the Indians needed only 1.3 overs to dismiss the hosts. 

Jadeja did the honours, bowling Lahiru in the second over after lunch with a delivery that pitched slightly outside the off-stump before moving in sharply. 

That brought an end to the Lankan innings since they have only 10 players available with Asela Gunaratne ruled out on the opening day due to a thumb injury.

Apart from Jadeja, pacer Mohammed Shami also bowled well, returning figures of 2/45. Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin and Hardik Pandya bagged a wicket each.

Dilruwan Perera was the top scorer for the hosts. He remained unbeaten on a gritty 92, hitting 10 boundaries and four sixes off the 132 deliveries he faced.

Perera and Angelo Mathews started the day on a steady note for Sri Lanka, handling the bowling of Umesh, Jadeja and Ashwin quite comfortably.

The duo batted out the first hour with ease, putting together a partnership of 72 runs.

Jadeja, however, got the breakthrough with the first over of his second spell when Mathews mistimed his drive while trying to smash the ball over the in-field cordon. 

It was a poor shot selection from Mathews in the given situation. The right-hander produced an excellent knock of 83 runs, smashing 11 boundaries and a six during his 130-ball stay in the middle.

Perera, however, continued to fight on even though wickets kept falling at regular intervals at the other end.

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