GALLE - Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli hit centuries before the spinners struck as India took charge of the first Test against Sri Lanka at the Galle International Stadium on Thursday.

The tourists, replying to Sri Lanka's first innings total of 183, moved from their overnight total of 128-2 to 375 before they were all out just before stumps on the second day. Sri Lanka, who trailed by 192 runs on the first innings, slipped to 5-2 from four overs in their second knock by close as the Indian spinners removed both openers in the first two overs. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who opened the bowling after taking six wickets in the first innings, bowled Dimuth Karunaratne with his fifth delivery before a run had been scored.

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra, sharing the new ball with Ashwin, then bowled Kaushal Silva for no score to provide a dramatic start to the innings. Kumar Sangakkara, playing the penultimate Test of his international career, resumes on Friday on one facing a tough challenge to prevent India from running away with the first match of the three-game series. Nightwatchman Dhammika Prasad was the other batsman at the crease on three, with Sri Lanka trailing by 187 runs.

Left-handed opener Dhawan scored 134, his fourth Test century and the second in succession after making 173 against Bangladesh in June, and skipper Kohli returned to form with 103. The pair put on 227 runs for the third wicket in a fine partnership after India were reduced to 28-2 after tea on the first day. Dhawan said he was happy to eschew his normally aggressive game to play a patient innings that helped his team take a big lead.

"I feel my shot selection has got better and that's why I am not getting out in the 20s and 30s now," he said. "The major difference in my batting is that I am not giving too many chances to the opposition. "Even if I wanted to hit I could not, because the Sri Lankans were bowling in really good areas. Maybe if the wicket was flatter I could have played more shots."

Dhawan said the partnership with Kohli made him relax at the wicket and enabled him to play a long innings. "It's great to bat with Virat, who is one of the best batsmen in the world," he said. "You feel at ease when such kind of a batsman walks in because you know he will take control of the game."

India were cruising at 255-2 when Sri Lanka hit back with four quick wickets on either side of the second new ball to make it 302-6. Wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha, who walked in at 257-4, smashed a gutsy career-best 60 with six boundaries and a six to boost the total. Off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal finished with five for 134, while seamer Nuwan Pradeep took three for 98.

Dhawan, who was on 53 overnight, reached the three-figure mark 20 minutes before lunch by driving Prasad through the covers for his 10th boundary. But Dhawan was lucky to survive a loud appeal for leg-before against Kaushal when he was on 79. Replays showed the ball pitched in line and would have gone on to hit the stumps, but since the Decision Review System is not being used in the series, umpire Bruce Oxenford's decision stood.

Kohli went to his 11th Test century with an off-driven boundary against Kaushal, his first 50-plus knock in 12 innings across all formats since making 107 in the World Cup match against Pakistan in Adelaide in February. Kohli was given out leg-before later in the same over as he attempted to pull the off-spinner, but replays indicated the ball may have turned enough to miss the leg-stump.




(OVERNIGHT: 128-2):

L Rahul lbw b Prasad 7

S Dhawan b Pradeep 134

R Sharma lbw b Mathews 9

V Kohli lbw b Kaushal 103

A Rahane lbw b Kaushal 0

W Saha c Chandimal b Pradeep 60

R Ashwin b Pradeep 7

H Singh b Kaushal 14

A Mishra b Kaushal 10

I Sharma not out 3

V Aaron c Mathews b Kaushal 4

EXTRAS: (b1, lb9, w3, nb11) 24

TOTAL: (all out, 117.4 overs) 375

FOW: 1-14, 2-28, 3-255, 4-257, 5-294, 6-302, 7-330, 8-344, 9-366, 10-375.

BOWLING: Prasad 22-4-54-1, Pradeep 26-2-98-3, Mathews 4-1-12-1, Kaushal 32.4-2-134-5, Herath 33-4-67-0.


D Karunaratne b Ashwin 0

K Silva b Mishra 0

D Prasad not out 3

K Sangakkara not out 1

EXTRAS: (nb1) 1

TOTAL: (for two wickets, 4 overs) 5

FOW: 1-0, 2-1

BOWLING: Ashwin 2-2-0-1, Mishra 1-0-1-1, Harbhajan 1-0-4-0.

TOSS: Sri Lanka

UMPIRES: Bruce Oxenford (AUS) and Nigel Llong (ENG)

TV UMPIRE: Ranmore Martinesz (SRI)