GALLE : Shikhar Dhawan smashed a career-best 190 on his test return and Cheteshwar Pujara hit 144 not out to put India on course for a massive first innings total in the first test against Sri Lanka today.
The duo held a 253-run second-wicket stand, with Dhawan playing the aggressor and Pujara the accumulator as India dominated the opening day to reach 399 for three at stumps.
Ajinkya Rahane was batting on 39 with Pujara, their fourth-wicket association already worth 113 runs at the Galle International Stadium.
With regular openers Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul indisposed, Dhawan and Abhinav Mukund opened the Indian innings after captain Virat Kohli opted to bat in the first match of the three-test series.
Mukund fell for 12 to Nuwan Pradeep, but Dhawan grabbed the opportunity with both hands - and appeared to have luck on his side. The 31-year-old was on 31 when he lashed at Lahiru Kumara, only for Asela Gunaratne to spill the catch at second slip.
Compounding Sri Lanka's crisis, Gunaratne had to be rushed to Colombo with a fractured thumb and looks certain to miss the remainder of the test, and possibly the series.
Dhawan did not look back after the reprieve and toyed with the Sri Lankan attack, pulling the pacers and sweeping the spinners freely.
One such boundary swept off spinner Dilruwan Perera brought up his fifth test century off just 110 balls, at the same venue where he scored his fourth in 2015.
India scored nearly run-a-ball after lunch with Dhawan plundering 100-plus runs in one session for the second time in his career.
The 31-year-old was cruising towards his maiden test double century when he threw away his wicket, stepping out to slap a Pradeep delivery straight to Angelo Mathews at mid-off.
If Dhawan attempted to blow away Sri Lanka tried to grind them down as India's number three batsman played with characteristic assuredness to bring up his 12th test century, which included 12 boundaries.
Pradeep claimed his third wicket when he dismissed Kohli for three with a short ball when Rangana Herath, leading Sri Lanka in absence of the ailing Dinesh Chandimal, challenged the original not-out decision.