COLOMBO – Cheteshwar Pujara registered his second century of the series while Ajinkya Rahane also notched up a hundred for India in the second Test against Sri Lanka on Thursday.
Pujara’s 50th Test turned out to be an eventful one as India’s No 3 nearly perished in the slip early in his innings and ran out partner KL Rahul, before making amends with his burgeoning 211-run stand with Rahane.
Pujara, who also completed 4 000 Test runs in the process, was batting on 128 at stumps, his 13th Test century containing 10 boundaries and a pulled six off debutant spinner Malinda Pushpakumara.
Rahane, who survived a couple of reviews, hit 12 boundaries in his fluent 103 not out as India utterly dominated the opening day of the contest to reach 344/3.
Alarmingly for Sri Lanka, still smarting from their comprehensive defeat in the series opener in Galle, lone front-line paceman Nuwan Pradeep left the field in the final session clutching his left hamstring.
India got off to a brisk start after skipper Virat Kohli opted to bat on a dry surface with Rahul, who missed India’s victory in Galle with high-fever, and Shikhar Dhawan scoring freely against a spin-heavy Sri Lankan attack.
Dhawan clobbered Rangana Herath for a six in the spinner’s first over and also hit five boundaries in his brisk 35 before Dilruwan Perera trapped him lbw.
Rahul was on 19 when the right-hander was given out leg-before to Dimuth Karunaratne, but the batsman used a review to successfully overturn the decision, and went on to make his sixth successive Test half-century.
Rahul fell on 57 after a horrible mix-up with Pujara, and was soon joined by Kohli in the pavilion as India slumped to 133/3.
Pujara, who struck 153 in Galle, and Rahane ensured Sri Lanka did not get any momentum, however.
Renowned for their impeccable temperament, the right-handed duo deftly used the crease to punish the Sri Lankan bowlers, who endured a wicket-less final session.
Sri Lanka welcomed back skipper Dinesh Chandimal, who missed the Galle Test with pneumonia, and effected three changes overall in their bid to level the three-match series against the top-ranked Indian team.