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Kumar Sangakkara dominates yet again

Kumar Sangakkara celebrates his 23rd Test century Associated Press

The SSC has been a fortress of sorts for Sri Lanka in the recent past, and they set about continuing their dominant run at the venue with another imposing performance. As they looked good to pile on yet another massive first-innings total, the actors that put them in charge on the opening day this time were the same as in Galle. Kumar Sangakkara and Tharanga Paranavitana served the Indians a painful reminder of the initiative lost on the first day of the series, cashing in on some unthreatening bowling that offered plenty of opportunities to score on a seemingly lifeless track.

The virtual absence of swing and the serious lack of movement off the deck, combined with poor lengths from the seamers, had helped the Sri Lankan openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Paranavitana take the lead in the opening session. And the glimmer of hope that the wicket of Dilshan provided following the introduction of spin was scuppered by a brilliant counter-attack from Sangakkara.

As MS Dhoni had predicted, the pitch offered more bounce than in Galle but the spinners, despite the accompanying turn, created hardly any chances. It was Sangakkara who unsettled them at the start, prompting Dhoni to set defensive fields soon after having gained the wicket of Dilshan. In the very over that Pragyan Ojha had Dilshan caught at extra cover, Sangakkara slashed one through point for four and audaciously stepped out of the crease to loft him over mid-on.

The seamers Ishant Sharma and Abhimanyu Mithun were targeted by Sangakkara after lunch. Sangakkara pulled and whipped them behind square and delicately guided those pitched even fractionally short through point and past gully. He was positive throughout, ensuring a steady flow of singles and twos, but experienced a scare when he edged Mithun just wide of gully while in the nineties. He brought up his 23rd Test century by dispatching Virender Sehwag over mid-on, and looked determined enough to bat India out of the Test.