1st Test: Jadeja leads the way with an unbeaten 175 as India declare at 574/8

Ravindra Jadeja’s career-best, an unbeaten 175, led the way for India to declare at a mammoth 574/8 in 129.2 overs on day two of the opening Test against Sri Lanka at the IS Bindra PCA Stadium on Saturday.

Just as one wondered if Jadeja would reach his maiden double hundred in Tests with the ease he batted throughout his knock, Rohit Sharma signalled for declaration and umpires signalled for early tea.

The session began with Jayant Yadav trying to defend on the front foot but was undone by Vishwa Fernando getting to move the ball away from him and nicked to first slip. Jadeja, continuing on from unbeaten 102 at lunch, was lucky in a pull escaping the stumps for a boundary off Fernando.

Fernando came further under attack from Jadeja as the left-hander took successive boundaries through the off-side. Jadeja then went after Lasith Embuldeniya, dancing down the pitch to hit a six down the ground followed by sweeping twice for back-to-back fours to take India’s total past 500.

Jadeja took down part-time spinner Dhananjaya de Silva for a pulled four through mid-wicket and a lofted six over long-off to bring up his first 150 in Test cricket and also raise half-century of his partnership with Mohammed Shami.

Shami eventually got off the mark on the 15th ball and even got a boundary as Jadeja continued to move on with ease, going past Kapil Dev’s 163 against the same opposition, to record the highest score by an Indian batter at seven in Tests. Shami then brought up the century stand to make a hat-trick of three 100-plus partnerships by the Indian lower order.

Earlier, Jadeja began the day by raising his half-century with a back-foot drive slapped through covers for a boundary off Suranga Lakmal. Whenever Sri Lanka bowlers gave width, Jadeja was quick to pounce on them and send the ball to the boundary rope. When Sri Lanka tried to shift from width to straight lines, it was all too straight for Jadeja to easily swat through the leg-side.

Ravichandran Ashwin, on the other hand, took his time before he got going with boundaries through point and cover off Vishwa Fernando. Jadeja and Ashwin were in cruise mode, unperturbed by a Sri Lanka bowling attack which won’t have the services of Lahiru Kumara for the rest of the match. Ashwin continued to drive with finesse and reached his 12th Test fifty with a single through covers.

Jadeja and Ashwin put 130 runs for the seventh wicket to take India past 450. After pulling Lakmal through mid-wicket, Ashwin tried to pull again. But Lakmal, coming from around the wicket, cramped him for room and the ball took a faint top-edge to keeper Niroshan Dickwella.

In the next over, Jadeja brought up his second Test century with a single through cover. It was quite ironic that Jadeja, who was nicknamed ‘rockstar’ by leg-spin great Shane Warne during the inaugural season of IPL in 2008, completed his Test hundred a day after the legendary cricketer’s demise.

An over later, lunch was declared with India still in a position of ascendancy and Sri Lanka staring at another session of toil under the sun. Post-lunch, Jadeja piled more misery on Sri Lanka till declaration arrived with an early tea break.

Brief Scores: India 574/8 dec in 129.2 overs (Ravindra Jadeja 175 not out, Rishabh Pant 96; Lasith Embuldeniya 2/188, Suranga Lakmal 2/90) vs Sri Lanka.

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