Kandy: India were 329/6 at stumps against Sri Lanka on the opening day of the third and final Test at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Kandy on Saturday.
Virat Kohli after winning the toss opted to bat first and openers Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul responded well to produce a partnership of 188 runs for the first wicket. Dhawan went on to score his sixth Test ton while Rahul scored 85.
But Malinda Pushpakumara (3/40) and Lakshan Sandakan (2/84) scripted a comeback for the hosts as the two bowlers bagged a total of five wickets out of six. Pushpakumara’s victims involved the likes of Dhawan, Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane while, Sandakan scalped skipper Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara.
Sri Lanka did start well, with pacer Lahiru Kumara hitting Rahul's pad that had the Sri Lankans interested as early as the second over and his new-ball partner Vishwa Fernando, replacing Nuwan Pradeep, inducing an edge off Dhawan that landed in front of the slip cordon.
Spinner Dilruwan Perera was pressed in to action, but to no avail as Rahul and Dhawan scored at five runs per over and took India past the 100-run mark inside the first 20 overs. Rahul got to his ninth Test fifty soon after.
The continued pressure sustained by the left-arm orthodox and the left-arm unorthodox yielded positive results as Pujara was undone by a slider from Sandakan. The one-down batsman went for a cut gauging the line of the delivery but the revs on the ball meant the ball skidded through after pitching and Pujara was cramped for room and edged it to first slip Angelo Mathews. Pujara departed for eight.
Kohli had trouble early on, reading Sandakan, and Rahane too seem to be bogged down. Rahane charged down to Pushpakumara but lack of turn meant Rahane's intention of playing on to the onside went kaput and he was castled.
The pacers, Kumara and Fernando, were negotiated well by Kohli who went on to score 42 before he departed chasing a wide one from Sandakan. Karunaratne pouched an easy one at slips.
Ravichandran Ashwin (31) and Wriddhiman Saha (13*) then held the line for India before Ashwin edged one from Fernando and Niroshan Dickwella took a fabulous catch diving to his right behind the stumps.