Galle: India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin turned on the heat with a triple strike this morning to leave Sri Lanka reeling at 65 for five at lunch on the opening day of the first cricket Test here.
Electing to bat on a a dry wicket, Sri Lanka had the worst of starts after pace spearhead Ishant Sharma struck in the seventh over of the innings and the hosts just kept sliding further.
Dimuth Karunaratne (9) was Ishant's victim after giving away a catch to Ajinkya Rahane at gully. Sharing the new ball with Ishant, Varun Aaron struck in the very next over to get opener Kaushal Silva (5) back in the pavilion. Kaushal was dropped on nought by Shikhar Dhawan at first slip against Aaron, but failed to capitalise on it.
Spin was introduced in the 12th over and it was an all Ashwin show after the off-spinner struck right away to pack off Kumar Sangakkara (5), who is playing the penultimate Test of his illustrious career.
The veteran left-handed batsman edged a slow-turner, off the backfoot, to silly pint where Lokesh Rahul took a reflex catch.
Ashiwn kept up the pressure after that and got Lahiru Thirimanne (13) edge one to slip as Rahane took a good low catch to his left.
Jehan Mubarak (0) was Ashwin's third victim as Mathews (26 not out) and Dinesh Chandimal (5 not out) hung on till lunch.
Earlier the hosts made two changes from their last Test against Pakistan, with Sangakkara coming in for Upul Tharanga and Rangana Herath for Suranga Lakmal. The Virat Kohli-led side went in with five bowlers, opting to play all three spinners , Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Harbhajan Singh, in the eleven.