Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 June 2019

Kohli in selection fix after India openers Dhawan and Mukund find form in Galle cricket Test

With Murali Vijay injured and Lokesh Rahul ill, reserve openers step for touring party, but question is who will play in next Test.

Shikhar Dhawan was bound for Melbourne to spend time with his family, but instead finds himself in the thick of action in his India whites. Ishara Kodikara / AFP
Shikhar Dhawan was bound for Melbourne to spend time with his family, but instead finds himself in the thick of action in his India whites. Ishara Kodikara / AFP

India's thrashing of Sri Lanka in the first Test has left captain Virat Kohli with a "massive" yet welcome headache as he ponders his team selection for the next match.

India dominated the first Test from the outset to win by 304 runs with a day to spare in Galle.

The tourist's top-order batsmen fared well, with Shikhar Dhawan making 190 in the first innings and fellow opener Abhinav Mukund contributing a quickfire 81 in the second.

Chatesh Pujara also blasted 153 batting at three in the first innings while Kohli chipped in with an unbeaten 103 batting at four in the second.

The success of the top four batsmen however leaves Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri with a dilemma ahead of the second Test, starting in Colombo on Thursday.

Regular opener Lokesh Rahul missed the match in Galle because he was suffering from the flu but is expected to be available for the next game, meaning someone has to miss out.

"Yes, it's a very tricky situation," Kohli said. "We've got all four openers firing now. Shikhar was supposed to go to Melbourne, now he's got a 190 in Galle. So, anything can happen in life.

"It's a massive headache but I guess a good one. You know, eventually guys understand that only two can take the field and at most two or three openers make the squad."

Kohli was careful not to pre-empt any picks and hoped whoever missed out would not be too disappointed.

"We'll have to eventually take a call on who plays in the next Test and I'm sure the third guy will understand whatever the call is taken by the team," the captain said.

Dhawan was a late inclusion for the series opener, replacing the injured Murali Vijay, but made the most of his chance with his career-high 190.

"My plans were to go to Melbourne and spend time with my family, do training and get fit for the one-day series," he said.

"I was in Hong Kong actually on holiday and from there I flew back to India and joined the team. That was my plan and I think destiny had a different plan for me."

Kohli was also happy with the bowlers' performance, particularly Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

The Galle pitch favoured batting, with India piling on 600 and 240-3, but the Indians twice bowled out the home side for less than 300.

"We are able to capitalise in those situations and really put more pressure on the opposition," Kohli said.

"I would say that we really exectuted our plans well to force the opposition to make mistakes regularly."

Sri Lanka's stand-in captain Rangana Herath insisted his team were better than the lopsided result of the first test indicated.

Injured allrounder Asela Gunaratne was unable to bat in either innings, while Herath could not pad up in the second innings after he was injured.

Gunaratne has been ruled out of the remaining two tests with a broken finger while Herath, who also injured a finger, expects to return.

"We bowled badly, fielded badly and batted badly in the first innings," Herath said.

"We are a better team than that. We need to find out how we can do better than this moving forward."

Updated: July 30, 2017 10:10 AM



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