Sangakkara in charge as India's bowlers toil

Sri Lanka 256-2 India
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The Independent Online

Centuries from Kumar Sangakkara, the captain, and Tharanga Paranavitana put Sri Lanka in control as they reached 256 for two at the end of the opening day of the first Test in Galle.

Much of the pre-match focus had been on Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who will retire from Test cricket after this game, but Sangakkara (103) stole the show as he reached his 22nd Test century just before the tea break, with opener Paranavitana (110 not out) bringing up his maiden Test century shortly after the interval.

Sangakkara was eventually caught at midwicket off the bowling of Virender Sehwag to end a 181-run second-wicket partnership before rain brought an early end to the day's play.

Muralitharan may have needed only eight wickets to reach 800 Test scalps in his 133rd match but he was forced to take a back seat after Sangakkara elected to bat. India handed a debut to 20-year-old Abhhimanyu Mithun, but it was his senior partner, Ishant Sharma, who proved costly in the early stages.

Mithun claimed his first Test wicket with a well-aimed bouncer that caught the gloves of Tillakaratne Dilshan, who had raced to 25 from 24 balls. Paranavitana offered a tough chance, when a leading edge gave Gautam Gambhir little time to react at silly point, but he and Sangakkara were hardly troubled thereafter.

They reached their half-centuries off successive balls, before Sangakkara survived a scare as India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni uncharacteristically spilled a straightforward chance off the bowling of Sehwag on 65. The left-hander made India pay as he reached his century from 136 balls and Paranavitana followed suit by bringing up his hundred from 201 balls when play resumed after tea.

Sangakkara departed to Sachin Tendulkar's catch at midwicket, but there was little time for India to test new batsman Mahela Jayawardene before bad light and rain stopped play.