COLOMBO • Opener Lokesh Rahul struck his second Test century and combined with skipper Virat Kohli to help India recover from a shaky start and reach 319 for six at stumps on the opening day of the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka yesterday.
Dhammika Prasad's early burst reduced India to 12-2 in the fifth over as the visitors' decision to bat first in Sri Lankan batting stalwart Kumar Sangakkara's farewell Test had threatened to backfire.
Dropped on 11, Rahul (108) teamed up with Kohli (78) to take the fight back to the hosts with a 164-run third-wicket partnership.
Batting at No. 5, Rohit Sharma shrugged off early discomfort to hit three sixes and five boundaries in a fluent 79 before being dismissed lbw by Angelo Mathews off what became the last ball of the day.
His partner in a 52-run stand, Wriddhiman Saha, was batting on 19 at the close.
Paceman Prasad jolted India early, trapping Murali Vijay (0) leg before wicket and getting Ajinkya Rahane, promoted to No. 3, caught in the slips for four.
India, seeking a series-levelling win after losing the first Test in Galle by 63 runs, could have slumped to 20-3 but Jehan Mubarak dropped Rahul at gully off Dushmantha Chameera with the batsman on 11.
Rahul, who struck his maiden Test century in Australia earlier this year, went on to compile his second hundred in 180 balls.
Kohli signalled his positive intent by hitting Rangana Herath, who destroyed India in the second innings of the opening Test, over his head for the first six of the innings.
Rahul and Sharma also used their feet to hit Herath over the rope.
But the tricky spinner ended Kohli's 107-ball knock, with Mathews showing great anticipation in the lone slip position to pull off a low, one-handed catch.
Rahul fell after top-edging a Chameera bouncer but Sharma scored freely to take India past the 300-mark.
In the morning, about 6,000 spectators at the P. Sara Oval applauded warmly when Sri Lanka's batting great Sangakkara entered the field in his last Test. Young children gave him a guard of honour by holding raised bats.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE