Sri Lanka clawed their way back into the match by reducing India from 188 for 0 to 329/6 after Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul gave the visitors a flying start on the opening day of the third Test at Pallekele.

After Virat Kohli won his third consecutive toss and decided to bat first, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul provided a solid start as they bullied the Sri Lankan bowlers in the first session of the day to take India to lunch at 134 for 0. Barring a handful of spectators, the stadium was empty and the hosts pegged back by the absence of Nuwan Pradeep and Rangana Herath, did little to make the fans regret their decision.

Left-arm pacer Vishwa Fernando showed promise early on but it was nullified by Lahiru Kumara’s wayward bowling, allowing the Indian openers to settle down and dispatch even the good balls for boundaries. By the end of seven overs, India had 42 runs on the board with Kumara conceding 35 off those in just 3 overs. Dimuth Karunaratne troubled Rahul for a while and even had a top-edged from the batsman balloon over mid-on but Kumara misjudged it and gave the batsman a reprieve. Dhawan soon reached his fifty off just 44 balls while Rahul became the first Indian and sixth overall to hit seven successive half-centuries in Tests.

The dangerous-looking partnership was finally broken when Malinda Pushpakumara sent back Rahul for 85 with the scoreboard reading 188.

And while Rahul failed to convert his half-century into a century again, Dhawan went on to score his sixth Test century and the second one of this series.  But the southpaw could add only 19 runs to his century before becoming Pushpakumara’s second victim.

Sri Lanka then dismissed last match’s centurions- Cheteshwar Pujara (8) and Ajinkya Rahane (17) cheaply to leave India reeling at 264 or 5 and consequently the run-rate dropped considerably.  32 runs later the visitors suffered another huge blow when Lakshan Sandakan had Kohli caught at slip for 42.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha then tried to steady the ship but Ashwin guided one ball to the wicket-keeper and walked back to the pavilion, on a personal score of 31 runs, with just 2 overs left in the day.

Here is how Twitter reacted to the day’s play:

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