Rahul, Kohili lead India recovery

Colombo, August 20

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 on Thursday.

Dhammika Prasad’s early burst reduced India to 12-2 in the fifth over as the visitors’ decision to bat first in Sri Lankan 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 their innings. Rohit Sharma shrugged off early discomforts to hit three sixes and five boundaries 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.

Paceman Prasad jolted India early, trapping Murali Vijay leg before wicket 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. It proved costly as Rahul, who struck his maiden Test century in Australia earlier this year, went on to compile his second hundred in 180 balls.

Kohli signalled his positive intent by stepping out of his crease to hit 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 tricky 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 the 300-mark. India made three changes to the team which imploded at 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 final Test for Sangakkara, who was given a guard of honour before the start of play.