Galle, July 29 (IANS) India tightened their grip on the fourth morning of the opening cricket Test by setting a mammoth 550-run target and then took two Sri Lankan wickets as the hosts huffed and puffed to 85/2 at lunch at the Galle International Stadium here on Saturday.
At the break, opener Dimuth Karunaratne (44) and Kusal Mendis (24) went unseparated with a 56-run third wicket stand after India pacers Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav packed back Upul Tharanga (10) and Danushka Gunathilaka (2), respectively.
Earlier, resuming the day at 189/3, India skipper Virat Kohli (103 not out) went on to complete his 17th Test century, before the visitors declared their innings at 240/3. Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane (23 not out) added 51 runs in 6.3 overs to stretch the lead to 549.
The India captain, who went unbeaten on 76 at stumps on the third evening, started tapping for singles and doubles, before latching on a Dilruwan Perera delivery to clobber over midwicket for six to move to 89.
He completed his hundred with a single to midwicket, reaching the landmark in 133 balls and thereby surpassed former India skipper Sourav Ganguly’s tally of 16 Test tons.
The 28-year-old has now equalled Indian stalwarts V.V.S. Laxman and Dilip Vengsarkar’s tally of 17 and is only behind Mohammad Azharuddin (22), Virender Sehwag (23), Sunil Gavaskar (34), Rahul Dravid (36) and Sachin Tendulkar (51).
This was also Kohli’s first century after a gap of seven innings, since his 204 against Bangladesh earlier this year.
In reply, the hosts were off to a forgettable start with their experienced opener Tharanga, out in the third over of the innings.
Having got an attacking 64 in the first innings, Tharanga failed to cash on the advantage when Kohli dropped him at first slip, to be bowled off an inside edge in the next ball from Shami.
Gunathilaka also gifted his wicket by flicking Yadav’s delivery straight to square leg fielder Cheteshwar Pujara before Mendis and Karunaratne joined forces to steady the ship.