Colombo: Ajinkya Rahane's patient ton helped India reach 283 for five in the second innings and extend their lead to 370 at tea on the fourth day of the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka here today.
After a crucial 140-run second wicket stand with Murali Vijay (82), Rahane (126), who struck his fourth Test century, forged an 85-run fourth wicket partnership with Rohit Sharma (34) to put the visitors in the drivers seat.
Post lunch, India started from 179 for three as Rahane and Rohit looked to get runs quickly to press for an early declaration. But Sri Lanka had their own plans to keep things tight, and with Tharindu Kaushal (4-118) bowling round the wicket to the two right-handers, they were successful in their ploy.
The scoring rate fell below three-per-over as Rohit took time to settle down. In the meantime, Rahane completed his Test hundred off 212 balls in the 67th over. India's lead swelled to 300 in the same over, even though only 42 runs came in the first hour of play after lunch.
Slowly though, the two batsmen started attacking and playing shots and the run-rate went past the four-per-over mark. Rohit perished in trying to clear the boundaries and was caught in the deep off Kaushal in the 75th over. Two overs later, the off-spinner also accounted for Rahane who edged one to the keeper.
It brought Stuart Binny (17 not out) and Wriddhiman Saha (5 retd.) together at the crease, but the latter retired hurt in the 79th over due to a strained right hamstring. He left the field to get treatment and it is suggested that he will be fit enough to keep wickets. Lanka took the new ball as soon as it was due but Binny and Ashwin managed to avoid any further damage before the final session of play.
Starting at the overnight score of 70 for one, Murali Vijay (82) and Rahane looked to get into their grooves as soon as possible. They started slowly but the scoring pace increased soon after. Vijay first brought up his 11th Test half-century in the 36th over, off 104 balls, and as if that was the cue for going after the bowling, he hit two sixes thereafter.