x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

India in strong position

The hosts recover from a shaky start against Sri Lanka thanks to Dravid's partnerships with Yuvraj Singh and captain MS Dhoni.

A relieved Rahul Dravid said he was delighted to be back to his best form with after his unbeaten 177 helped rescue India from a poor start and left them in a strong position after the opening day of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Ahmedabad yesterday. The home side were in real trouble at 32 for four as Sri Lanka's new-ball pairing of Dammika Prasad and Chanaka Welegedara tore into India's top order. Dravid's excellent knock, supported by a century from captain MS Dhoni and a half-century from Yuvraj Singh, got them to an imposing score of 385 for six.

"When we lost quick wickets, the idea was to just hang in there and try and build the innings," said Dravid. "This is one of my most fluent innings in the last two-three years. My feet were moving well and I felt I was in control. Yuvraj set the momentum and Dhoni helped me build on that." Dravid added he and his teammates will be looking to build on their strong start with the aim being to take the score well over the 500-mark as they look to take control of the game when Sri Lanka come to bat.

"Hopefully, we can get to 500 because we need that to put pressure on the Sri Lankans," added Dravid, who moved pass 11,000 Test runs with his score and fifth on the all-time list. For the visitors it was a case of what might have been as they allowed India to escape to a decent score after at one stage looking as if they were going to skittle them out for an embarrassingly low total. It was a day of two halves for fast bowler Welegedara.

He proved almost unplayable early on, dismissing Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar - the latter for a paltry four - as he he took three for 28 from his first seven overs. But like the rest of the visiting attack he struggled as the day wore on and Dravid and Dhoni found their range, and he went for 47 runs from his next 10 overs. "There was a bit of moisture in the morning which helped me swing the ball," said Welegedara, who was playing in only his second Test match.

"But the wicket eased out as the day went on and became good for batting." Sri Lanka's talisman bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan, proved costly with the ball as well as he took just one wicket at the expense of 90 runs, which included just three maidens. * Agencies