Starting the day at 329 for six, India added 158 runs in the first session of day two of the third and the final Test against Sri Lanka at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Pallekele on Sunday riding on allrounder Hardik Pandya’s superlative counter-attacking innings of 108*.
Pandya anchored the lower-middle order resistance with sensible batting at first and combined with Kuldeep Yadav for a 62 run-stand for the eighth wicket before unleashing his beast mode that garnered him 58 runs in just 32 deliveries batting with number 11 batsman, Umesh Yadav. India went in to lunch on 487 for nine.
After Lakshan Sandakan got rid of a gritty Kuldeep and Mohammad Shami in quick succession, Pandya upped his ante with belligerent hitting that had Sri Lanka stunned.
Pandya started off with a six off Sandakan before ploughing in to Malinda Pushpakumara with two fours and three sixes in one over. Pandya danced down the track to the left-arm spinner to good effect and in the process, took India past the 450-run mark.
A six off Lahiru Kumara and Sandakan was followed by two back-to-back boundaries that earned him his first-ever triple-figure score in first-class cricket.
The extended session after India lost their ninth wicket should have helped Sri Lanka but Pandya’s hitting meant, Sri Lanka were back to square one after two good session on day one.
The Sri Lankan bowlers were on point early on, but failed to break through after Wriddiman Saha threw his wicket in the second over of the day, going for a nothing short off pacer Vishwa Fernando’s wide delivery.
Saha tried to play the length delivery past gully, but could not keep the ball down as Dilruwam Perera caught a tough chance. Saha departed for for 19.
Kumara tried to pepper Pandya with short deliveries, but the allrounder was up for the task and looked assured rocking back and managed to keep most of his pull shots under control and even got an uppercut for a boundary.
At the other end, Kuldeep supported Pandya well and displayed his batting prowess and did well to put a price on his wicket. The duo negotiated the the early burst from Fernando and Kumara before settling in against the spin of Sandakan and Pushpakumara.
Kuldeep though was undone by Sandakan’s full delivery as the batsman prodded at the ball only managing a faint edge and umpire Richard Illingworth raised his finger.
Kuldeep went for a review but replays ensured that the decision stayed with the on-field umpire’s call. Shami thre his bat around and earned himself a four before getting caught and bowled by Sandakan. TOI
Brief Scores: India 487/9 (Dhawan 119, Pandya 108*, Rahul 85; Sandakan 4/132) vs Sri Lanka