PREVIEW IND vs SL, DAY 5: Whatever Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul had for dinner with skipper Virat Kohli and third opener Murali Vijay on Saturday night definitely worked wonders for the duo as they ended with scores of 94 and unbeaten 73 respectively at the end of the fourth day’s play in the first Test. More than morale boosters for the duo after failing in the first innings, the partnership handed India a slim hope of going for the kill on the final day at the picturesque Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Monday. It was unfortunate that Dhawan was dismissed by Shanaka in the closing stages of the day’s play — caught by Niroshan Dickwella — as Cheteshwar Pujara (2) and Rahul saw India to stumps on 171/1, a lead of 49 runs. Taking strike with Sri Lanka leading by 122 in the first innings, it was imperative for the openers to lay a foundation and take the team as close to the visitors’ lead as possible, but the duo of Dhawan and Rahul did one better. They not only took the Indians past the 122-run mark, but also added another 44 as the two put on 166 for the opening wicket, taking the game very much away for Sri Lanka’s grip. While Dhawan was the one who sent the Lankan bowling on a leather hunt in the third session, it was Rahul who started with a bang. Coming in to bat on the verge of a king pair, the pressure was on him, especially with pundits questioning the team management’s decision to play him over Vijay on a greenish track. But Rahul hit three beautiful boundaries of Lahiru Gamage’s first over — second of the innings — to set the tone for the rest of the day. Wrecker-in-chief Suranga Lakmal’s knee injury only triggered the process further as both Dhawan and Rahul were in a punishing mood. Interestingly, they added caution with aggression beautifully as they paid due respect to the good balls. But sadly for the Lankans, there were far and few of them as the Indians cut, drove and flicked with elan. By the time Lakmal got the ball in his hand, last over before the tea break, the duo of Dhawan and Rahul were already spotting the cricket ball like a football.
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Squads: India: Virat Kohli (Captain), KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma.
Sri Lanks: Dinesh Chandimal (captain), Dimuth Karunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella (wicket-keeper), Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Gamage, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa Fernando, Dasun Shanaka and Roshen Silva.