India swept to a 1-0 lead in the three-match Test series against Sri Lanka after they cruised to a comfortable 304-run win in the first Test at Galle.
Here, we have a look at five takeaways from the match.
Before this series, opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan hadn’t featured in India’s last 11 Tests. An injury to Murali Vijay saw the left-hander added to the squad and with illness forcing KL Rahul to sit out of the Galle Test, Dhawan found a place in the playing XI.
The 31-year-old made full use of the opportunity as he played a blinder of an innings, scoring 190 off just 168 deliveries on day one. Dhawan’s innings put the Indian team on the front foot and unsurprisingly, he was named as the Player of the Match.
With Abhinav Mukund scoring 81 in the second innings, the Indian team will have a decision to make on what the opening combination will be once Rahul is available for selection.
Walked in as a last-minute replacement and walked out with the Man of The Match trophy. You can understand why Kohli rates Dhawan highly!!!— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) July 29, 2017
Cheteshwar Pujara was dropped for the third Test against West Indies in August 2016 after a poor run of form. He returned to the line-up in the next Test but did not get to bat in a rain-affected draw.
Then came the series against New Zealand at home and after exhibiting good form in the Duleep Trophy, Pujara notched up three fifties and a century against the Kiwis. Since then, the Saurashtra batsman hasn’t looked back.
A knock of 153 in India’s first innings at Galle was Pujara’s fifth century in his last 12 Tests. In his last 14 Tests, Pujara has scored 1484 runs at an average of 64.52.
Despite it not being a memorable match for the Sri Lankan team, fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep impressed as he took career-best bowling figures of 6-132 in India’s first innings.
While the other Sri Lankan bowlers struggled to trouble the Indian batsmen, Pradeep caused them some problems once he got into his rhythm.
What was most impressive about the right-arm pacer’s wickets was that he managed to dismiss four out of India’s top five batsmen.
Virat Kohli had a superb time in the longest format of the game from the start of the tour to the West Indies last year as he notched up four double centuries in eight months. But then came a disappointing series for him against Australia where he managed just 46 runs in five innings.
In this Test, the Indian skipper had a disappointing start as he was dismissed for just three in the first innings. He came back strongly in the second innings though as he scored an unbeaten 103 to help the visitors post a convincing victory.
The knock also helped push Kohli’s average to 50.03 which means that he currently averages over 50 in all three formats of the game at international level.
While India came into the series as huge favourites, many expected Sri Lanka to put-up more of a fight than they did in this Test.
Injuries to Asela Gunaratne and later Rangana Herath didn’t help, but conceding 840 runs for 13 wickets in the match and managing scores of just 291 and 245 is not something the Sri Lankan team will look back at with much fondness.
The hosts will definitely have to put in a much-improved performance if they are to get the better of a strong Indian line-up in this series.
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