Colombo, Aug 4 (IANS) India rode on a strong batting performance by the middle and lower order to post a formidable total of 553/7 at tea on the second day of the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka here on Friday.
At the break, Wriddhiman Saha was unbeaten on 59 while Ravindra Jadeja was on 37 at the other end.
For Sri Lanka, spinners Rangana Herath and Malinda Pushpakumara have taken two wickets each while Dimuth Karunaratne and Dilruwan Perera have bagged a wicket each.
The Lankans started the post lunch session on a promising note when Ravichandran Ashwin was bowled by Herath shortly after completing hins half-century.
Ashwin, who notched up the 11th half-century of his Test career, scored 54 runs off 92 balls with five boundaries and a six.
Hardik Pandya then scored 20 runs off as many deliveries before he mistimed his shot while trying to smash a Pushpakumara delivery out of the park only to see Angelo Mathews latch onto the skier at long-off.
Jadeja joined Saha in the middle and the duo added 57 runs between pile more pressure on the hosts.
Earlier, the Lankans struck twice to send back overnight centurions Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane even as India added 98 runs in the morning session to post 442/5 at lunch.
Resuming the day at 344/3, India lost Pujara (133) in the second over of the day, trapped in front by part-timer Dimuth Karunaratne before Rahane (132) and Ashwin consolidated the innings with a 63-run fifth wicket stand.
Pujara looked good during his brief stay on the second morning, fetching a boundary off Karunaratne, before the next delivery ended his 232-ball vigil.
The Saurashtra right-hander who had by now added 217 runs with Rahane, was hit on his thighs by a back of a length delivery from Karunaratne, resulting in loud appeals from the hosts.
The on-field umpire however, did not budge and the home side immediately asked for a referral which got them the prized wicket.
The fall of Pujara, brought in the dependable Ashwin, who started briskly striking two boundaries off Rangana Herath and Karunaratne before slowing down a bit.
The right-handed duo of Ashwin and Rahane continued to frustrate the Sri Lankans, stealing the odd boundaries and rotating the strike at a good rate to raise their 50-run stand in no time.
In his attempt to accelerate after India crossed the psychological 400-run mark, Rahane perished to debutant left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara, smartly stumped by Niroshan Dickwella after facing 222 balls and sending the ball 14 times to the fence.
Rahane’s dismissal brought a sigh of relief to the Sri Lankan camp, as wicketkeeper-batsman Saha and Ashwin safely guided India to 442/5 at the lunch break.
Brief Scores: India 553/7 (Cheteshwar Pujara 133, Ajinkya Rahane 132, Lokesh Rahul 57, Wriddhiman Saha 59 batting; Rangana Herath 2/122, Malinda Pushpakumara 2/156) vs Sri Lanka.