© AFP
Pandya takes India to a commanding position © AFP

In a rare scene at Pallekele, we witnessed a Chinaman bowler face fellow Chinaman bowler. Although the No. 9 Kuldeep Yadav did his best to avoid the taste of his own medicine, Lakshan Sandakan had the last laugh as he lured him into press forward and induce an edge behind the wickets. However, Kuldeep had done enough damage before he perished, scoring a vital 26 runs off 73 balls. In addition, he added the second-highest partnership of the innings. Along with Hardik Pandya, he stitched 62 runs for the eighth wicket. All the same, Pandya stole the show and notched up his maiden international hundred in only his third Test. India went into lunch at 487 for 9, on Day 2 of the third and final contest.

It was not the Pandya we see in limited-overs. He did fire on all cylinders when he took the crease. It was – more or less – a controlled innings. Against a disciplined bowling attack, Pandya displayed tenacity and played according to the merit of the ball. However, credit goes to Kuldeep as well. He put a price on his wicket and made sure he pulls back momentum towards his side by frustrating the opponents. The duo dealt in singles when boundaries were hard to come, ensuring the scorecard is ticking. Sandakan then dismissed Mohammed Shami for a mere 8. Inviting the tail-ender to play a big shot, he took a brilliant catch off his own bowling.

With only a wicket in hand, Pandya decided to use his long handle. He hit three consecutive sixes, after already hitting successive fours. In all, he blasted 26 runs off Malinda Pushpakumara’s over, the third most by a player in Tests. In the pursuit, the staggering all-rounder reached the three-figure mark for the first time in his international career.

Brief scores:

India 487 for 9 (KL Rahul 85; Shikha Dhawan 119; Hardik Pandya 108*; Lakshan Sandakan 4 for 132) vs Sri Lanka.

Full scorecard