Rahane century propels Indians

Rahane century propels Indians

Right-hander's 109 negates middle-order collapse

Rahane century propels Indians

Ajinkya Rahane struck an unbeaten century but skipper Virat Kohli’s poor form continued as Indians managed 314 for six on the opening day of their only three-day tour game against Sri  Lanka Board President’s XI here on Thursday.

Put into bat, Indian openers KL Rahul (43) and Shikhar Dhawan (62) gave the visitors a solid 108-run start but the batting wobbled after their departure.

Rohit Sharma (7) and Kohli (8) fell in quick succession as medium-pacer Kasun Rajitha (3-47) made his presence felt in the President’s XI ranks as Indians lost four wickets for 25 runs in the post-lunch session.

Struggling at 133 for four, Rahane (109 not out) and Cheteshwar Pujara (42) then got together to stitch a 134-run fifth-wicket partnership to rebuild the Indian innings. Pujara and Rahane defied the hosts until tea with the score board reading 175 for four.

The two batsmen put on runs at a brisk pace, bringing up the 50-run partnership in the 49th over. And then they kicked on, with Rahane bringing up his half-century off 59 balls, with five fours.

Their 100-run partnership came up in the 59th over and the duo scored at 4.75 runs per over during their 28.1-over stay together at the crease. Pujara slowed down a little as spin was introduced to make up for the slow over-rate and that hesitation cost him his wicket in the 66th over.

Rahane though carried on in the same vein as the Mumbai batsman got to his century with a boundary against Jeffery Vandersay (2/76). Rahane has struck 11 fours and a six in his 127-run stay so far as he helped India manage a healthy run-rate of 3.97 runs per over through the day.

The in-form batsman had got the company of R Ashwin (10 not out) at the end of the day’s play as the duo managed an unbeaten 41-run partnership. Kohli decided to rest Murali Vijay, who didn’t come out to bat till the end of day’s play, after choosing Dhawan and Rahul as openers.

The two openers negated the fresh wicket, with Dhawan riding his luck a couple of times while Rahul was solid as if he had never been away from the national team. They started off slowly th­ough, both looking to bat for time and brought up their 50-run partnership in the 18th over, going to lunch at 78 for no loss.

After the break, the breakthroughs came quick and easy. But not before Dhawan reached his half-century off 74 balls, inclusive of six fours. The 100-run mark came up in the 29th over.

At 35 not out, Rahul edged the ball to second slip but the umpire wasn’t sure if the catch had been taken cleanly. Hence, the batsman continued on but couldn’t add to his score as he miscued a pull in the 30th over and was caught off Nisala Tharaka (1/65). It gave an opening to the Lankan side.

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