Colombo, Aug 29: Opener Cheteshwar Pujara's sublime unbeaten 135-run knock helped India reach 292/8 at stumps on the second day of the third Test against hosts Sri Lanka at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) here on Saturday.
Rain forced early conclusion of the second day's proceedings but not before Pujara, partnered by lower-order batsman Amit Mishra (59), put on a 104-run eighth wicket stand to revive India from a precarious position at 119/5.
The stand was India's highest eighth wicket partnership against Sri Lanka and was also the highest for the eighth wicket at this ground.
At stumps, Pujara was accompanied by Ishant Sharma, who was unbeaten on 2. It was Pujara's, who is playing the first match of the series, seventh Test century.
The umpires called for halt of play on Saturday when a late shower forced a delay in the proceedings. They then decided to call off play for the day due to a wet outfield in which India scored 292 runs from 95.3 overs bowled.
Sri Lanka's pacer Dhammika Prasad has been the home team's best bowler, with an alysis of 83/4 from 23.3 overs when stumps were drawn. India began at their overnight score of 50/2 only to lose Virat Kohli (18) and Rohit Sharma (26), both of whom perished after getting sound starts.
Kohli was dismissed by Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews who induced an edge from him to be caught by wicketkeeper Kushal Perera. He was sent to the pavilion fairly quickly, in the ninth over of the innings, when, after a 50-run third wicket partnership with Pujara, he flashed at a wide delivery outside his off stump to give an easy chance behind the stumps.
Rohit joined Pujara and they batted with caution, wary of the moving delivery.
Pujara grew in confidence as his duration at the crease increased and reached his fifty in the 43rd over. He batted patiently to negotiate the early morning bowling venom of the hosts. He and Rohit put together a 55-run third wicket stand but their effort was undone just at the stroke of lunch when the latter edged a moving ball to the first slip.
India were reduced to 119/4 in 45.5 overs at lunch. India scored only 69 runs in 30.5 overs in the morning session, losing those two crucial wickets in the process.
It went from bad to worse when play resumed after lunch with all-rounder Stuart Binny (0) getting out on the first ball of the post-lunch session.
Debutant man Ojha (21) forged a 54-run stand for the sixth wicket with Pujara but perished when things began to look up for India. Ravichandran Ashwin's (5) quick dismissal increased India's troubles as they lost the seventh wicket for 180 runs.
But from there Pujara, with Mishra in tow, began the revival process. He remained unmoved by the flurry of wickets and played well all around the park -- especially elegant while playing the cut shots.
The 27-year-old cut down his strokes as he moved near the three-figure mark even as Mishra played freely. He reached his century in 214 deliveries with the help of nine fours and later added another four boundaries.
Pujara also got a reprieve at his persol score of 117 as Nuwan Pradeep dropped a catch at fine-leg off a Mathews delivery. IANS
India (first innings)
Lokesh Rahul b Prasad 2
Cheteshwar Pujara not out 135
Ajinkya Rahane lbw b Pradeep 8
Virat Kohli c Perera b Mathews 18
Rohit Sharma c Tharanga b Prasad 26
Stuart Binny lbw b Prasad 0
man Ojha c Tharanga b Kaushal 21
Ravichandran Ashwin c Perera b Prasad 5
Amit Mishra st Perera b Herath 59
Ishant Sharma not out 2
Extras (lb 2, w 3, nb 6, pelty 5) 16
Total (8 wickets; 95.3 overs) 292
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-14, 3-64, 4-119, 5-119, 6-173, 7-180 , 8-284
Bowling: Dhammika Prasad 23.3-4-83-4
Nuwan Pradeep 22-6-52-1
Angelo Mathews 13-6-24-1
Ranga Herath 25-3-81-1
Tharindu Kaushal 12-2-45-1