Kandy: Riding on unbeaten half centuries from openers Shikhar Dhawan and Lokesh Rahul, India posted a comfortable 134/0 at lunch on the opening day of the third and final cricket Test against Sri Lanka at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium here on Friday.
At the break, Dhawan was unbeaten on 64 while Rahul (67 not out) made his seventh successive 50-plus score in Test matches, becoming the joint record-holder alongside Everton Weekes, Andy Flower, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kumar Sangakkara and Chris Rogers.
Electing to bat after winning the toss, the visitors were off to a flying start, rushing to their 50 in just 55 balls as Dhawan completed his fourth half century of the series in just 45 balls.
Eyeing their maiden whitewash of the hosts, the Indian openers looked unperturbed facing a fresh Lankan bowling attack with chinaman Lakshan Sandakan and seamers Lahiru Kumara and Vishwa Fernando in the team, which looked pedestrian throughout the opening session.
The Lankans had themselves to blame for letting a couple of opportunities slip when an edge from Dhawan went through second and third slip and then Lahiru Kumara misjudged a skier from Rahul.
Leading the spin attack in Rangana Herath’s absence, off-spinner Dilruwan Perera failed to impress as Dhawan danced down the track in only his second over to loft him over mid-off and then fetched another boundary with a pull.
The hosts did not use Malinda Pushpakumara’s left-arm orthodox before lunch, but tried Lakshan Sandakan’s left-arm wristspin for a couple of overs. He found a bit of drift early on, but also sent down a full-toss that Dhawan swept to the square-leg boundary.
With India also picking chinaman Kuldeep Yadav in place of the suspended Ravindra Jadeja, this was the first Test match since January 2004 — when West Indies’ Dave Mohammed and South Africa’s Paul Adams featured in Cape Town — to include two specialist chinaman bowlers.
Brief Scores: India first innings: 134/0 (Lokesh Rahul 67 not out, Shikhar Dhawan 64 not out) vs Sri Lanka.