Opener Virender Sehwag’s half-century helped India’s batsmen make a positive start in reply to Sri Lanka’s huge total on day two of the second Test in Colombo.
The tourists reached 95 without loss at stumps, after Sri Lanka declared their first innings on 642 for four. Sehwag was unbeaten on 64, with Murali Vijay on 22, on a lifeless SSC pitch at the end of play.
Kumar Sangakkara‘s 219, backed by Mahela Jayawardene’s 174 and Thilan Samaraweera’s 76, had helped the hosts to their commanding position and Sri Lanka eventually declaring their innings with 20 overs remaining in the day.
Sehwag looked in bright form right from the start of India’s innings, and he picked out paceman Dammika Prasad for special treatment, carting three boundaries in the third over to signal his intentions.
Debutant spinner Suraj Randiv had a less than memorable start to his Test career, smashed for two boundaries by Sehwag in his first over.
Sehwag reached a run-a-ball fifty in typical style with a boundary off Dilhara Fernando, as India held their nerve to safely negotiate the final few overs of the day.
Earlier in the day, having resumed their first innings at 312 for two, Sangakkara’s double century helped the hosts pile on the runs.
Sangakkara, who picked up from his overnight score of 130, showed no intention of starting slowly. The Sri Lanka captain cracked consecutive boundaries from the first two deliveries of the day and maintained a solid tempo from then on.
Three successive boundaries off Abhimanyu Mithun took Sangakkara to 150, while at the other end Jayawardene prodded away patiently.
Sangakkara’s seventh Test double hundred came with a four past third man, but his assault on the India bowling finally came to an end four overs into the second session as part-time spinner Sehwag forced the outside edge which found the safe hands of Rahul Dravid at first slip.
Despite the double centurion’s fall, Jayawardene and new batsman Samaraweera batted solidly to steer the total towards 600.
A quick two runs off Harbhajan secured a 28th Test century for Jayawardene, while Samaraweera took 89 deliveries to reach his 22nd fifty – smashing seven boundaries along the way.
Resuming after tea at 587 for three, Jayawardene – who was limping through his batting – and Samaraweera looked content on their patient approach towards a massive total.
Sri Lanka seemed set to cross the 650 mark but the dismissal of Jayawardene, caught at short mid-wicket by Suresh Raina off the bowling of Harbhajan Singh, prompted the declaration.