SL v IND, 1st Test, Day 3: CT Player of the day - Abhinav Mukund

SL v IND, 1st Test, Day 3: CT Player of the day – Abhinav Mukund

A hundred would've done a world of good for the opener, but he could only manage 81 off 116 balls.

Abhinav Mukund
Indian batsman Abhinav Mukund plays a shot. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

When a 21-year-old Abhinav Mukund made his debut against West Indies in 2011, he was touted as the next big thing as the regular openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir was unable to pile up runs the way they used to. Tons of runs in first-class cricket propelled him to grab a place in the Indian side, but the lack of confidence and valour when it mattered the most cost him big time.

Time has flown away quite swiftly for many but these were very tough six years for the Tamil Nadu opener. There was a time when his place in the Ranji side was also under the scrutiny, but he gave himself some time and slowly settled in. Mukund now finds himself back in the Indian side as a backup opener and all he can do to earn a more decent place is score runs and he did it on day 3 of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle.

The Lankans had conceded a 309-run first innings lead, which meant their bowlers had to stem the run flow and pick wickets at regular intervals, obliging them to go all out and attack. This helped Mukund score his runs at a good pace as he kept notching singles and doubles off the spinners by helping the ball pierce the in-field.

Much needed fifty

He did look a bit tentative on occasions with Lahiru Kumara bowling his heart out but got a push on fortune on a few occasions which helped him amass some runs. He played some delightful shots off Perera and Kumara which boosted his confidence and with a nudge down to fine leg for a boundary, he brought up his first fifty in Test match cricket.

Virat Kohli, Ravi Shastri and the rest of the Indian contingent were on their feet applauding the 27-year-old’s effort, which speaks volumes about the respect he has in the gallery. There were a couple of occasions in the innings when he would’ve had his heart in his mouth, but he eventually survived and kept playing his shots.

India lost two wickets cheaply and the partnership between Virat and Mukund set the tone in the second innings and allowed India to finish day 3 on a high, precisely, with a lead of 498 runs. The Indian skipper brought up an imperative half-century and the duo added 133 for the third wicket before Mukund got out in the final over of Day 3.

A hundred would’ve done a world of good for the opener, but he could only manage 81 off 116 balls. Nevertheless, this knock was valiant enough to surpass all his companions and counterparts to be the “CT player of the day”.