Ajantha Mendis and Chaminda Vaas led Sri Lanka’s fightback after Indian opener Virender Sehwag missed out on a rare feat of scoring a century before lunch in the second Test yesterday.
Sehwag was unbeaten on 91 at the lunch-break before hammering a robust 128 not out for his 15th Test hundred on a rain-hit opening day. He dominated a 167-run stand for the opening wicket with Gautam Gambhir (56).
But unorthodox spinner Mendis and veteran left-arm seamer Vaas did not allow India to capitalize on a strong start, sharing four quick wickets to reduce the tourists to 214-4 in the first innings at stumps.
Only four batsmen — Australians Victor Trumper, Charles Macartney and Don Bradman, and Pakistan’s Majid Khan — have scored a hundred before lunch on the opening day of a Test.
It was the second time that Sehwag had missed out on the rare distinction, having smashed an unbeaten 99 before lunch against the West Indies in St Lucia two years ago.
India had been comfortably placed at 151 for no loss at lunch, but their batting woes satrted up when play resumed in the last session after more than three hours were lost because of rain as four wickets fell in the space of 11 runs.
Mendis trapped Gambhir leg-before and had Rahul Dravid (2) caught by Malinda Warnapura, while Vaas accounted for ace batsman Sachin Tendulkar (5) and former captain Sourav Ganguly to put the hosts back into the match.
Sehwag did not let the long rain-break affect his concentration, hoisting Mendis over long-on for a six and then driving the bowler for a four to complete his century off just 87 balls.
India, who had collapsed twice against spin in the opening Test in Colombo, called the shots in the morning as Sehwag and Gambhir averaged more than five runs an over.
Sri Lanka lead 1-0 in the three-match series following their victory by an innings and 239 runs in Colombo.