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Rahul stars as batting helps India post 319/6

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Colombo, Aug 20 (IANS) A combined batting effort highlighted by opener Lokesh Rahul’s fine knock of 108 runs propelled India to 319/6 against Sri Lanka at stumps on day one of the second Test match here on Thursday.

Rahul top-scored for the visitors, ably supported by skipper Virat Kohli (78). Middle-order bat Rohit Sharma also played a delightful innings of 79 runs but lost his wicket in what was to be the last ball of the day.

His partner at the other end wicketkeeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha remained unbeaten at 19 runs.

For Sri Lanka, medium-pacer Dhammika Prasad (2/72) and spinner Rangana Herath (2/73) bagged two wickets each.

After electing to bat, India were jolted in the very first over as Prasad trapped opener Murali Vijay (0) leg before wicket in the fourth delivery. The ball swung back in and struck the opener on the front pad right in line with the stumps.

Prasad was at it again as he got rid of Ajinkya Rahane (4) too in quick succession after he edged a wide one to the slips.

Tottering at 12/2, it was Rahul and the skipper who took on the responsibility of rebuilding the innings. Both were a little circumspect from the start, letting go off the moving leather whenever possible.

Kohli, however, grabbed hold of the opportunities that came his way as he hit back-to-back boundaries against Dushmantha Chameera in the 10th over.

Rahul emulated his captain and got into the groove, hitting delightful boundaries as the red ball began to lose its shine.

After lunch, the Kohli-Rahul pair continued where they left. Both batsmen latched onto anything loose that was bowled. The otherwise quiet Rahul matched Virat stroke-for-stroke.

It was Herath who finally broke the partnership of 164 runs. Kohli finally got out for 78, edging one to Mathews.

The next man in Rohit looked quite steady from the start blocking a few of the middle of the bat. Rohit then easily neglected the home team’s attack to remain unconquered at tea.

In the post-tea session, Rahul threw away his wicket soon after getting to his ton, top edging a bouncer from Dushmantha Chameera, which was easily lapped up by wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal.

By then Rohit had settled in, and with all-rounder Stuart Binny (10) he knit another useful partnership.

Binny was defensive but Rohit punished the hosts every time they erred in length and clobbered them for three huge sixes.

The pair put on 36 runs for the fifth wicket but Binny (10) fell to Herath tamely, hitting one straight to mid off.

Wicket-keeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha was the next willower to come out in the middle and he looked confident from the outset sweeping and blocking the spinners who were hurling the bowl at a good length.

Saha and Rohit added 52 runs for the sixth wicket. But the latter perished after being judged leg before off medium pacer Angelo Mathews and helped Sri Lanka crawl back into the contest at the fag end of the day.

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