Fifties from captain Virat Kohli and Abhinav Mukund helped India stretch their second innings lead to 498 at stumps on Day 3 of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle on Friday. At the close of play, India were 189/3 with Kohli recording his first fifty-plus score in eight innings and unbeaten on 76 while Mukund was out on what turned out to be the last ball of the day for 81. Sri Lanka, again, tasted early success having removed both the first-innings centurions Shikhar Dhawan (14) and Cheteshwar Pujara (15) cheaply. Dhawan was caught at point while Pujara must have been frustrated at himself and not just because he flicked a leg stump delivery to the leg gully fielder but also at the fact that no sooner he was dismissed, the rain arrived and the play was stopped and an early tea was taken. The match was delayed by over an hour and finally resumed at 3:55 pm (IST) and from thereon, it was one-way traffic with both Kohli and Mukund hitting their strides, scoring freely. Off the duo, Kohli was the more fluent and at one stage was scoring at better than run-a-ball. Since hitting a double-century against Bangladesh last year at home, he underwent a dry spell which he left behind with a strokeful knock. More than him, it was Mukund who was a relieved man having failed in the first innings on his second Test comeback of the year. He was more determined, his defense a lot tighter and thanks to some gifts from the Sri Lankan bowler, raised his fifty off 78 balls with a clever boundary. He, though, was trapped lbw Danushka Gunathilaka in the last over of the day.
It was a late success in the day for Sri Lanka who began brightly, removing the in-form Indian batsmen quickly after being bowled out for 291 and conceding a 309-run lead. The template of the ongoing Galle Test can be briefly summed up like this: Sri Lanka start well, make some early inroads but India crash their party and snatch the advantage.—AFP