Tendulkar ton eases India concerns
A century from Sachin Tendulkar helped India claw their way back into the second Test against Sri Lanka, as the visitors managed to end the third day's play at the Sinhalese Sports Club on 382 for four.
Responding to the hosts' first-innings 642, India lost key wickets in the first two sessions of the day, including opener Virender Sehwag for 99, but Tendulkar's unbeaten 108 meant the visitors were within 60 runs of avoiding the follow-on at stumps.
Test debutant Suresh Raina also played his part with an unbeaten 66 as Sri Lanka were unable to capitalise on their morning and afternoon session performances with the ball.
Tendulkar's sublime patience - just when India needed it most - paid dividends, before the little master charged down the track to smash debutant off-spinner Suraj Randiv for a six over long-on to reach his 56th Test half-century.
Raina brought his experience of one-day pressure situations to the fore, hitting timely boundaries, as the duo quickly constructed a half-century partnership.
The left-hander was able to provide ample support for Tendulkar, and reached his maiden Test fifty with a sweet cover-driven boundary.
Tendulkar shifted gears from then on, taking on the Sri Lanka bowlers in his trademark style, and eventually marked his 48th Test century - his ninth against this opposition - from 181 balls with a swept boundary off Randiv.
India had begun the day on 95 without loss and Sehwag maintained his aggressive approach from the start, smashing Dilhara Fernando for consecutive boundaries in the second over.
With Murali Vijay giving good support at the other end, Sehwag was able to pick out comfortable runs to keep the scoreboard ticking at nearly four an over while the former reached his second Test half-century in style, hitting spinner Ajantha Mendis for a boundary.
Sehwag then attempted to bring up his century with a blazing shot, but was beaten by the flight and stumped by Prasanna Jayawardene as Randiv claimed his first Test wicket with his first ball of the day.
Mendis then stepped up to the plate to deal India a further blow, trapping Vijay plumb lbw for 58.
And Randiv continued a dream debut with another big scalp as Rahul Dravid failed to negotiate a quicker delivery and was trapped leg before on three.
Tendulkar and VVS Laxman were relatively fresh at the crease at the start of the afternoon session and they steered India past 200.
The tourists, however, survived a huge scare when Fernando sent in a wicked bouncer which Tendulkar could only edge in an attempted cut, only for wicketkeeper Jayawardene to drop a relatively simple catch.
Sri Lanka piled on the pressure and were rewarded when Mendis trapped Laxman leg before for 29 just 10 minutes before tea, but Tendulkar and Raina negotiated the entirety of the evening session.