x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 17 December 2017

Hardik Pandya shines with bat and ball as India take charge of third Test against Sri Lanka

Maiden hundred for the all-rounder, who also takes a wicket as Sri Lanka follow on in Pallekelle.

India's Hardik Pandya celebrates after scoring a century as his teammate Umesh Yadav, right, congratulates him during the second day of the third Test against Sri Lanka. Lakruwan Wanniarachchi / AFP Photo
India's Hardik Pandya celebrates after scoring a century as his teammate Umesh Yadav, right, congratulates him during the second day of the third Test against Sri Lanka. Lakruwan Wanniarachchi / AFP Photo

A century from all-rounder Hardik Pandya and four wickets from spinner Kuldeep Yadav left India in total command of the third and final Test against Sri Lanka yesterday.

Kuldeep led an inspired bowling display with his left-arm wrist spin to help dismiss Sri Lanka for 135 in response to India’s 487, before the visitors enforced the follow-on in Pallekele in search of a series whitewash.

The hosts were 19-1 at stumps on day two, still trailing India by 333 runs. Dimuth Karunaratne on 12 and nightwatchman Malinda Pushpakumara on nought will resume at the crease today.

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It was Pandya’s 96-ball 108 that paved the way for India’s dominance after resuming the day on 329-6.

“It was an ideal opportunity and obviously there was a team’s goal which was to get them a 400-run target and we scored close to 490. I was taking a calculative risk,” Pandya, who made his Test debut in the series opener in Galle, added.

“I am pretty lucky to have such a team and such people who are supporting me and backing me all out.

“I always wanted to play Test cricket. Its name is Test because it is a difficult format; it tests your patience, fitness, temperament.”

Pandya’s batting blitz that tore apart the Sri Lanka attack as the right-hander hit eight boundaries and seven sixes.

He was finally out to spinner Lakshan Sandakan, who claimed his first five-wicket Test haul, on the third ball of the second session as India’s innings ended without adding to the lunch total

Kuldeep, another Indian rookie, then flattened the Sri Lankan batting in the hosts’ first innings, returning impressive figures of 4-40 in just his second Test.

Off-spinner Ashwin took two wickets including Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal, who top-scored with a gritty 87-ball 48.

Pace spearhead Mohammed Shami also contributed two wickets, removing the Sri Lankan openers in the first five overs of the innings.

A post shared by Hardik Pandya (@hardikpandya93) on

Pandya, 23, also chipped in with his pace bowling to have former captain Angelo Mathews dismissed leg before without scoring.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka’s batting coach Hashan Tillakaratne gave no excuses for the team’s display.

“It’s a disappointing day. We batted so poorly today, I am sure the boys have realised where we went wrong (and) will come out with a better plan tomorrow,” he said.

“There are so many things that you can say when the team is not doing too well. This is the time we must back these guys and give them confidence.”