Colombo, Aug 3: India rode on undefeated centuries from Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane to post 344/3 at stumps on the opening day of the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka at the Sinhalese Sports Club here on Thursday.
At stumps, Pujara, who was nominated for this year's Arjuna Award, was batting on 128 while Rahane was unbeaten on 103 as the right-handed duo guided India to a strong position, adding 211 runs for the fourth wicket.
Pujara, who is appearing in his 50th Test, continued from where he left off in the opening match at Galle, securing his 4,000th run and his 13th century, three in a row against the islanders.
Putting behind him the mix-up that led to opener Lokesh Rahul's run-out for 57, Pujara shouldered the responsibility of carrying the Indian innings to safety after skipper Virat Kohli's (13) soft dismissal.
Joining forces with Rahane at the fall of Kohli, Pujara nearly edged to slip when on 1 and only just avoided short-leg's hands in the last over before lunch. In the second session, the Saurashtra right-hander switched gears to reach 89 off 140 deliveries at tea and finished unbeaten on 128 at stumps.
Rahane, on the other hand, played the perfect second fiddle to Pujara to end his 10-match wait for what was his 9th Test hundred, and sixth outside India. He got to his ton, second against the islanders, off 151 deliveries when he pushed Rangana Herath for a single on the off.
Earlier, Rahul celebrated his comeback with a half-century. The opener's sedate 82-ball knock contained seven hits to the fence.
Off-spinner Dilruwan Perera notched up figures of 1/68 while veteran left-arm spinner Herath returned 1/83.
Opting to bat first on winning the toss, the Indians were off to a superb start with openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rahul handling the Lankan bowlers quite comfortably. The duo put together an opening partnership of 56 runs in just 10 overs.
Dhawan, who had narrowly missed out on the maiden double century of his career in the first Test, seemed to be in excellent form here as well. He made a quick 35 runs off 37 balls before being trapped leg before by Perera.
The Indian openers continued to bat comfortably with the run rate consistently hovering around the five per over mark.
Just like in the first Test, the Lankan bowling attack did not seem too formidable although the pitch had a slight bit of bounce.
Dhawan, who seemed set for a big score, fell off the first ball of the 11th over when he missed an attempted sweep and the ball straightened enough to hit him on the pads.
The umpire had initially ruled not out but the Lankans decided to call for the review and were rewarded when the third umpire overturned the decision.
Pujara and Rahul, however, ensured that the visitors lost no more wickets till lunch. They added 53 runs between them off 20.3 overs.
Rahul, however, fell in the third over after lunch when he was run out following a horrible piece of miscommunication with Pujara.
Coming in at the fall of Rahul, Kohli seemed to be in good touch but fell victim to some poor shot selection with Angelo Mathews pulling off an excellent catch in the slips.
Thereafter, Rahane and Pujara went on to frustrate the home side as India found themselves in a comfortable position when the umpires dislodged the bails for the day. IANS
Shikhar Dhawan lbw b Dilruwan Perera 35
Lokesh Rahul run out (Chandimal/Dickwella) 57
Cheteshwar Pujara batting 128
Virat Kohli c Mathews b Herath 13
Ajinkya Rahane batting 103
Extras (b 4, lb 3, nb 1) 8;Total (3 wkts, 90 Ov) 344
Fall of Wickets: 56-1, 109-2, 133-3
Bowling: Nuwan Pradeep 17.4-2-63-0
Rangana Herath 24-3-83-1
Dimuth Karunaratne 3-0-10-0
Dilruwan Perera 18-2-68-1
Malinda Pushpakumara 19.2-0-82-0
Dhananjaya de Silva 8-0-31-0