Cricket: Rahul fifty takes India to 101-1 at lunch
COLOMBO (Reuters) - A fit-again KL Rahul struck a fluent unbeaten fifty in his first match of the series to help India reach 101 for one at lunch on the opening day of the second test against Sri Lanka on Thursday.
Back in action after high fever kept him out of India's comprehensive victory in the series opener in Galle, Rahul was on 19 when the right-hander was given out leg before to Dimuth Karunaratne.
The batsman used a review to successfully overturn the decision and went on to make 52 not out, reaching his eighth test fifty with his seventh boundary.
Cheteshwar Pujara, playing his 50th test, was batting on 14 at the other end at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) Ground.
India captain Virat Kohli won the toss and had no hesitation in opting to bat on a dry surface on which the ball has already started spinning and batting in the fourth innings would be a daunting task.
Sri Lanka welcomed back skipper Dinesh Chandimal, who missed the Galle match with pneumonia, and effected three changes overall in their bid to square the three-test series.
The home side finally recognised Malinda Pushpakumara's impressive first class record by giving the 30-year-old left-arm spinner his test debut at the SSC.
Their spin-heavy selection left them with the lone frontline paceman in Nuwan Pradeep and left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who led in Galle in Chandimal's absence, was pressed into action as early as in the second over.
Rahul and his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan, however, looked largely at ease against the home attack.
Dhawan, whose 190 in the first innings at Galle set up India's comprehensive win, was his aggressive self, stepping out to hit Herath for a six in the spinner's first over.
The southpaw also hit five boundaries in his brisk 37-ball knock before being hit on the pad by a Dilruwan Perera delivery.
Umpire Rod Tucker initially turned down the appeal but the Sri Lankans reviewed the decision to send back Dhawan.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)