Colombo: Cheteshwar Pujara scored his seventh century to help India reach 220/7 at tea on the second day of the third Test against Sri Lanka at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) here on Saturday.
Opening batsman Pujara, who got his first opportunity in the series, remained firm on 101 not out with Amit Mishra (24 not out) when tea was taken. The second session of the day produced 101 runs for the loss of three Indian wickets.
India again had a poor start with the loss of all-rounder Stuart Binny (0) on the first ball of the session. Right-hander Binny was plumbed in front of the wickets by a full length delivery from right-arm pacer Dhammika Prasad.
Next batsman, debutant Naman Ojha (21) looked to play an attacking knock before being caught by Upul Tharanga at midwicket off a ball from off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal. Pujara and Ojha forged a 54-run stand for the sixth wicket.
Ravichandran Ashwin (5) edged behind an away-moving delivery from Prasad as India lost the seventh wicket for 180 runs.
However, Pujara remained unmoved by the flurry of wickets and played well all around the park — especially elegant while playing the cut shots.
The 27-year-old cut down his strokes as he moved near the three-figure mark even as Mishra collected four boundaries during his knock of 24.
Rajkot batsman Pujara and Mishra forged an unbeaten partnership of 40 runs for the eighth wicket.
Opening batsman Cheteshwar Pujara was batting on 55 when lunch was called after the dismissal of Rohit Sharma (26) by pacer Dhamik Prasad.
India managed to score only 69 runs in 30.5 overs in the session, losing two crucial wickets in the process.
Earlier, India began at their overnight score of 50/2 only to lose skipper Virat Kohli (18) and No.5 batsman Rohit Sharma (26).
Kohli was dismissed by Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews who induced an edge from him to be caught by wicketkeeper Kushal Perera. He was sent to the pavilion fairly quickly, in the ninth over of the innings, as Kohli, after a 50-run third wicket partnership with Pujara, flashed at a wide delivery outside his off stump to give an easy chance behind the stumps.
Rohit joined Pujara and they batted with caution, wary of the moving delivery.
Pujara grew in confidence as his duration at the crease increased and reached his fifty in the 43rd over. He batted patiently to negotiate the early morning bowling venom of the hosts.
He and Rohit put together a 55-run third wicket stand but their effort was undone just at the stroke of lunch when the latter edged a moving ball to the first slip.