India’s Shikhar Dhawan in action in an earlier match. Picture: REUTERS
India’s Shikhar Dhawan in action in an earlier match. Picture: REUTERS

Galle — Shikhar Dhawan smashed a career-best 190 on his Test return and Cheteshwar Pujara hit 144 not out to put India on course for a huge first innings total in the first Test against Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

The duo shared a 253-run second-wicket stand, with Dhawan playing the aggressor and Pujara the accumulator as India dominated the opening day to reach 399/3 at stumps.

Ajinkya Rahane was batting on 39 with Pujara, their fourth-wicket association already worth 113 runs.

With regular openers Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul indisposed, Dhawan and Abhinav Mukund opened the Indian innings after captain Virat Kohli opted to bat in the first match of the three-Test series.

Mukund fell for 12 to Nuwan Pradeep, but Dhawan grabbed the opportunity with both hands — and appeared to have luck on his side. The 31-year-old was on 31 when he lashed at Lahiru Kumara, only for Asela Gunaratne to spill the catch at second slip.

Compounding Sri Lanka’s crisis, Gunaratne had to be rushed to Colombo with a fractured thumb and looks certain to miss the remainder of the Test and the series.

Dhawan did not look back after the reprieve and toyed with the Sri Lankan attack, pulling the pacers and sweeping the spinners freely.

One such boundary swept off spinner Dilruwan Perera brought up his fifth Test century off just 110 balls, at the same venue where he scored his fourth in 2015.

India scored at nearly a run-a-ball after lunch with Dhawan plundering 100-plus runs in one session for the second time in his career. He was cruising towards his maiden Test double century when he threw away his wicket, stepping out to slap a Pradeep delivery straight to Angelo Mathews at mid-off.

Pradeep claimed his third wicket when he dismissed Kohli for three.


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