Galle: India maintained their hold over the proceedings despite losing four wickets on the second day of the first cricket Test against Sri Lanka here on Thursday.
Nuwan Pradeep (5-88) took his maiden five-wicket haul in Test cricket as India reached 503 for seven in 117 overs at lunch.
At the Galle International Stadium, the visitors lost four wickets for 104 runs in the morning session but still managed to extend their advantage.
Starting from overnight 399 for three, India crossed the 400-mark on the first ball of day two. Cheteshwar Pujara (153 runs, 265 balls, 13 fours) and Ajinkya Rahane (57 runs, 130 balls, 3 fours) looked to continue their overnight partnership, and were batting fluently. Pujara had a DRS decision for caught behind turned down off Rangana Herath in the third over of the day.
He crossed 150 off 257 balls, inclusive of 13 fours, and matched his previous Test best of 153 runs against South Africa at Johannesburg in 2013. He also went past his best Test score of 145 not out in Sri Lanka, scored at the SSC back in 2015. Meanwhile, Rahane scored his 12th Test half-century off 118 balls.
Pujara was finally out caught behind off Pradeep in the 98th over. It started the slide for India as Rahane was caught at slip four overs later off Lahiru Kumara (1-115).
Surprisingly, R Ashwin (47 runs, 60 balls, 7 fours) and Wriddhiman Saha (16) both came out to bat ahead of debutant Hardik Pandya.
The experienced duo managed to put the brakes on Sri Lanka s attempt at getting into the tail quickly. Even so, the hosts put on a much-improved bowling performance from day one.
But for India’s overnight advantage, it would have put this match in an interesting balance.
Ashwin-Saha though maintained India’s hold as they added 50 runs in 67 balls. Overall, they put on 59 runs for the sixth wicket before Saha holed out to mid-on off stand-in skipper Herath to give him his first wicket in the Test.
Just before lunch, Ashwin was caught behind off Pradeep as well, the bowler going past his previous Test best of 4-62 against India at the SSC in 2015. At the break, Pandya was unbeaten on 4, while Ravindra Jadeja was batting on 8.
On day one, Shikhar Dhawan (190) and Cheteshwar Pujara had scored contrasting centuries to put India in command.
India had won the toss and opted to bat, giving Pandya his Test debut.