Sri Lanka in charge after making 520
India 140 for 3 (Sehwag 85*) trail Sri Lanka 520 for 8 (Paranavitana 111, Sangakkara 103, Herath 80*, Malinga 64) by 380 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
It was a strange and fascinating day full of the unexpected: The ball talked in the morning, Ishant Sharma impressed, Lasith Malinga thrilled and Rangana Herath became an unlikely hero. Ishant had everyone spellbound in the morning with captivating seam bowling but Herath and Malinga - yes, you read right - stole his thunder with entertaining half-centuries to ensure Sri Lanka retained control on the first Test.
India lost Gautam Gambhir to the second ball of their innings, Rahul Dravid to an error in judging a run, and Sachin Tendulkar to faulty shot selection and it was left to Virender Sehwag to keep them afloat. He did his best but the day belonged to Sri Lanka and, especially, to an unlikely pair of lower-order batsmen.
The 115-run partnership between Herath and Malinga was as delightful as it was unexpected. Herath impressed with several high-quality shots and Malinga alternated between defence and fury during a joyous effort. Within his first six deliveries, Herath had declared his intent with two boundaries. The outstanding shot of his stay was a thunderous six off Abhimanyu Mithun: Herath smoked a short-of-length delivery on the up over long-on. It certainly wasn't the shot of a lower-order batsman.
As you would expect in such an innings, there was an edged boundary and a slashed four over slips but, for the main part, Herath was composed and confident. There were several on-the-up shots, a few well-judged leaves, and a few tight defensive strokes. What really stood out was how well he paced his innings. Herath counterattacked at the start as he pursued quick runs but, realising that India's spirit had evaporated in the afternoon sun and that Malinga was not going to be blown away, he started to play second fiddle. Post Malinga's fall, Herath once again became the attacker and charmed the crowd with an audacious inside-out hit over covers off Mithun.
Malinga took the opposite route. He started slowly, scoring 1 off 15 deliveries, before he decided to indulge himself. He pulled and dragged Ishant for on-side boundaries and flat-batted him straight. He then looted Ojha for three boundaries in an over. Malinga wasn't done with Ojha, though, and he swaggered down the track to clear long-on twice in succession.
The start to the day presented a stark contrast to the carefree hitting of the afternoon. The second day's storm and overnight rain had left the pitch damp and the Indians exploited the seam movement on offer. With his second delivery, Ishant induced Tharanga Paranavitana to edge one that slanted away from off stump.
Ishant returned later with the new ball to harass Jayawardene and set the tone in his first over: he got the third delivery, a legcutter, to leave Jayawardene late. The next one cut in and Jayawardene left it on the bounce. Or was he expecting it to go other way? The fifth darted in, cut the batsman in half and somehow missed off stump. Jayawardene lunged forward desperately to the final ball to take the lbw out of the equation and was hit on the inner thigh by another incutter.
In his next over Ishant produced an edge with his only delivery at Jayawardene - a legcutter - but the ball ran past gully and to the boundary. In the third over of the spell, Ishant prompted an appeal from behind with another legcutter at Jayawardene. The contest ended immediately after when Ishant seamed the ball back in to catch Jayawardene in front of leg stump.
Angelo Mathews then showcased his cricketing acumen. After Jayawardene's departure, Mathews, who was focusing on survival until then, jumped to plan B. He pulled Mithun to the midwicket boundary, carved Ishant to the point boundary, lifted him over mid-off and slashed through covers. He fell, edging Ishant to slips, but the crowd had more entertainment from the Herath-Malinga show.
After his fifty, Malinga gave the fans one more reason to smile at the end of the day. He mis-fielded at mid-off and distracted Dravid into thinking there was an extra run. To Dravid's horror, he was not even in the frame when Malinga fired an accurate throw at the non-striker's end. Malinga laughed, the crowd roared and more joy came their way when Tendulkar chose to sweep a full delivery from Muttiah Muralitharan and was trapped in front.
Only Sehwag stood tall. He scored at almost a run a ball but never appeared to take any risks. Every bad ball - and those marginally off line or length - was put away. He played all his signature shots: The back-foot punchy drive through point, the crashing cover drive, the paddle sweep and the charge down the track. But with the top-order batsmen combusting around him, India have their task cut out for them. Sehwag made a classy 85 but it seemed just a footnote on a strange day.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo