Opener Lokesh Rahul struck his second Test century and combined with skipper Virat Kohli to help India recover from a shaky start and reach 319-6 at stumps on the opening day of the second Test against Sri Lanka yesterday.
Dhammika Prasad’s early burst reduced India to 12-2 in the fifth over as the visitors’ decision to bat first in Sri Lanka batting stalwart Kumar Sangakkara’s farewell Test had threatened to backfire.
Dropped on 11, Rahul (108) teamed up with Kohli (78) to take the fight back to the hosts with a 164-run third-wicket partnership providing the bedrock of the innings so far.
Batting at No. 5, Rohit Sharma shrugged off early discomforts to hit three sixes and five fours in a fluent 79 before being dismissed by Angelo Mathews in the 88th over.
His partner in a 52-run stand Wriddhiman Saha was batting on 19 at the close of play.
Paceman Prasad jolted India early, trapping Murali Vijay LBW and getting Ajinkya Rahane, promoted to No. 3, caught in the slips.
India could have slumped to 20-3, but Jehan Mubarak spilled Rahul at gully off Dushmantha Chameera with the batsman on 11.
Kohli signaled his intent by stepping out of his crease to hit Rangana Herath, who destroyed India in the second innings of the opening Test, over his head for the first six of the innings.
The visitors seemed determined to not let Herath dictate terms as Rahul and Rohit both used their feet to also hit him over the rope, but the spinner did have some success.
Herath ended Kohli’s 107-ball knock, with Mathews showing great anticipation in the lone slip position to pull off a low, one-handed catch.
Rahul fell after top edging a Chameera bouncer, but Rohit scored freely to take India past 300.
India made three changes to the team who imploded in Galle to allow the hosts to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, bringing in Vijay, paceman Umesh Yadav and all-rounder Stuart Binny.
Those missing out were Shikhar Dhawan, who has been ruled out of the series with a fractured hand, Varun Aaron and Harbhajan Singh.
Sri Lanka replaced the injured Nuwan Pradeep with Chameera in the 134th and final Test for Sangakkara, who was given a guard of honour before the start of play.
Australia produced an impressive response to relinquishing the Ashes by starting the fifth and final Test against England in resolute fashion, with openers Chris Rogers and David Warner reaching lunch on 82-0 at The Oval yesterday.
Put into bat in overcast conditions, Rogers and Warner battled through an attritional first hour before going on the offensive against an England attack who struggled for consistent line and length.
Warner was on 53, reaching his half century — for the fifth successive Test this series — with a cover drive for four off Steven Finn. Rogers was more circumspect on 27 not out in his last Test before quitting international cricket.
England regained the urn by winning the fourth Test at Trent Bridge two weeks ago, giving them an insurmountable 3-1 lead in the series, and there was a flat atmosphere right from the start at The Oval.
Australia were bowled out for 60 in 18.3 overs in the first morning at Trent Bridge, but Rogers and Warner handled similar conditions much better this time round.
Australia made two changes for captain Michael Clarke’s last Test match, with all-rounder Mitchell Marsh recalled and Peter Siddle called up.
England were unchanged.
At press time last night, Australia were 112-1.
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