KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan put up a 166-run stand    AFP
KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan put up a 166-run stand AFP

A solid opening partnership by KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan helped India take a 49-run lead before stumps of Day Four of the first Test against Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens. On Sunday, India restricted Sri Lanka at 294, handing them a 122-run lead. The Indian openers bettered their first-innings performance to put up 171 for 1 at stumps, losing Dhawan towards the end of the final session. Rahul remained unbeaten (73*) along with Cheteshwar Pujara (2*) and will continue on Day Five.

A stunning performance came from local boy Mohammed Shami, who bagged 4 wickets on Day Four. Shami could not impress on Day Three and remained wicketless but improved his performance the following day, breaking the partnership between Niroshan Dickwella and Dinesh Chandimal. He dismissed both the steady batsmen and later picked up the wickets of Dilruwan Perera and Suranga Lakmal to finish with4 for 100. Bhuvneshwar Kumar also picked up a 4-for, bagging two more wickets on Sunday.

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Rangana Herath was not used much as a bowler by Chandimal and the veteran made up for it, scoring a brilliant 67. After the middle order batsmen were dismissed cheaply, Herath’s half-century helped Sri Lanka build a healthy lead in the low-scoring Test.

Changed playing conditions helped the Indian openers massively. They looked extremely comfortable to bat in Sunday afternoon. Dhawan played his natural game and hit 11 fours and 2 sixes in his 94-run innings. He actually threw his wicket, in an attempt to reach his century with a six but ended up edging the ball to wicketkeeper Dickwella.

Rahul continued with his brilliant form, scoring yet another half-century. He played with a lot of composure. Pujara, the only half-centurion from India’s previous innings, is at the crease now and will be expected to play a bigger knock.

Rahul and Dhawan stitched a 166-run opening partnership. This was the first time since 2010 that India put up an opening stand that added in excess of 100 runs in their second innings.

Brief scores

India 172 and 171 for 1 (KL Rahul 72*, Shikhar Dhawan 94; Dasun Shanaka 1 for 29) trail Sri Lanka 294 by 52 runs.