Gautam Gambhir led India's fightback against Sri Lanka's mammoth first innings score of 760 for 7 declared with a fluent unbeaten half-century, on Day 4 of the first Test, in Ahmedabad, on Thursday.
The left-hand opener was unbeaten on 74 from 115 deliveries, inclusive of seven boundaries, as India put up 190 for 2 after 45 overs in their second innings, still trailing the visitors by 144 runs.
Keeping him company at stumps was night-watchman Amit Mishra, on 12 off 25 deliveries.
India, though, will rue the dismissals of Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid, who were both out after getting good starts.
Sehwag stroked a quick 51 from 67 deliveries, inclusive of seven boundaries before holing out to Angelo Mathews off the bowling of left-arm spinner Rangana Herath in the first over after the tea break.
Dravid looked solid on 38 from 66 deliveries before being adjudged leg before wicket to Chanaka Welegedera. Television replays suggested that the delivery that swung in would have missed the stumps.
Earlier, Mahela Jayawardene smashed a splendid 275 and Prasanna Jayawardene finished unbeaten on 154, the duo putting on a world record partnership of 351 runs in 592 deliveries for the sixth wicket as they stayed at the crease for 97.3 overs.
It eclipsed the previous record of 346 runs, set by Australians Don Bradman and John Fingleton against England in 1937.
Jayawardene was bowled by leg-spinner Amit Mishra; he stepped down the wicket but was beaten as the ball spun sharply from the rough outside the leg stump. His 275 was inclusive of 27 boundaries and a six and came off 435 balls.
Prasanna Jayawardene finished unbeaten on 154 from 314 deliveries, inclusive of 11 boundaries, as Sri Lanka declared their innings at the fall of Dammika Prasad's wicket, for 21, caught at midwicket off Harbhajan Singh.
They finished with a huge lead of 334 runs, with four-and-a-half sessions in hand to bowl out the Indians and register their first Test victory in India.
This is Sri Lanka's highest total on Indian soil, surpassing their previous best, 420, made in December 1986. This is also the highest total by any team on Indian soil, bettering the 676 for six that India put up against Sri Lanka in Kanpur in 1986
Jayawardene batted through day three -- registering his sixth double century in Tests and second against India, as Sri Lanka finished day on 591 for five in 160 overs. He added 138 runs for the fourth wicket with Thilan Samaraweera, who scored 70 before he was brilliantly caught by Yuvraj Singh at square leg, trying to pull a short delivery from Ishant Sharma.
Tillakaratne Dilshan had smashed 112 on the second day to give Sri Lanka a solid start after India amassed 426, courtesy Rahul Dravid's 177 and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's 110.
Morning session: (31 overs, 117 runs, 0 wickets)
After three deliveries on the fourth morning, India gave Ishant Sharma the new ball, in the 161st over of the innings.
India were made to pay on the third day as Dhoni had opened with spinners at both ends, thereby letting the batsmen get settled before the pacers came on later in the day.
Prasanna Jayawardene scored the first boundary of the fourth day, flicking a full delivery on the pads from Zaheer through square leg.
Mahela Jayawardene started from where he left off as he produced another cracking drive through the covers for a boundary off Ishant to bring up Sri Lanka's 600 in the 163rd over.
Prasanna got another boundary in Zaheer's next over, pulling a short delivery through the leg side to move into the nineties.
The two Sri Lankans seemed in a positive frame of mind, unlike on day three, as they found the boundary at regular intervals.
Ishant failed to hit the right line and length and double centurion Jayawardene had no problems in despatching him twice through the vacant third man region for boundaries.
Ishant through managed to get the edge, but, luckily for Prasanna Jayawardene, the ball fell well short of Dhoni and went for a boundary. It took the batsman to 99. Two deliveries later, he brought up his century, his second in Tests, as he guided a wide delivery through the third man region for a boundary. Sri Lanka's wicketkeeper took 212 deliveries to reach the landmark, which included eight boundaries, as the lead swelled to over 200.
If India managed to slow down Sri Lanka on the third evening with negative bowling, it all counted for nothing as the two batsmen scored at a good pace on day four. In the ten overs sent down, they scored 39 runs against the two pace bowlers, hitting as many as eight boundaries, to reach 630 for five in 170 overs.
Amit Mishra's nightmares continued as Mahela Jayawardene slammed him for two boundaries in his first over on the fourth day. On both occasions he danced down the wicket to flighted deliveries, slamming through the covers and over the bowler to move to 239 from 379 deliveries, inclusive of 24 boundaries and a six.
At the other end, Prasanna Jayawardene was unbeaten on 106 from 231 deliveries as Sri Lanka reached 651 for five in 174 overs, to extend their lead to 225 runs.
Mishra resorted to a negative line and went round the wicket to bowl on the rough outside the leg stump, yet Mahela Jayawardene swept him for a boundary. In the next over, Prasanna Jayawardene slog-swept Harbhajan over midwicket for another boundary as Sri Lanka closed in on the 700-run mark.
Jayawardene went past 250 with a single on the leg side off Harbhajan and also took the partnership to 300 runs. The former Sri Lanka captain brought up his 9000 runs in Test cricket when he moved to 253 in the 183rd over of the innings and became the first Sri Lanka to reach the landmark.
Despite bowling on a fourth day track, the Indian spinners proved ineffective, though a few deliveries turned sharply or stayed low. Mahela Jayawardene had no problems in charging down the wicket and lofting Harbhajan back over his head for a boundary.
Sri Lanka brought up their 700 in the 188th over when Prasanna Jayawardene clipped Mishra to the fine leg region.
Jayawardene played the late cut against Mishra for his 27th boundary of the innings to take Sri Lanka to 708 for five after 190 overs.
At lunch, Sri Lanka were comfortably placed at 708 for five in 191 overs. This is the highest total by any team on Indian soil, bettering the 676 for six India put up against Sri Lanka in Kanpur in 1986.
Post-lunch session: (28.4 overs, 129 runs, 2 wickets)
Mahela Jayawardene took two runs off the second ball after the break by Mishra to move to 269, the highest individual score against India in India, bettering the 267 made by Younis Khan at Bangalore in 2005.
Prasanna Jayawardene got the first boundary of the session when he swept Sehwag for a boundary through the leg side. In the same over, the duo created a new world record partnership for the sixth wicket, when their partnership reached 347 from 585 deliveries, beating Australians Don Bradman and John Fingleton's 346-run partnership against England in 1937.
Jayawardene's marathon innings ended when he was bowled by Mishra for 275. The right-hander, who hit 27 boundaries and a six in his 435-ball knock, stepped down the wicket but was beaten as the ball spun sharply from the rough outside the leg stump.
The two Jayawardenes were finally separated after a world record stand of 351 runs and 97.3 overs.
Sri Lanka opted to continue their innings despite the fall of Mahela Jayawardene's wicket, hoping to score as many runs as possible and avoid batting a second time in the match.
Prasanna brought up his 150 off 302 deliveries, inclusive of 11 boundaries, in the 198th over to become the first Sri Lankan number seven batsman to reach that landmark.
Sri Lanka's tactics were strange, as they did not show urgency at all, content to play it safe despite scoring 744 for six after 200 overs.
India also were going through the motions as part-timer Yuvraj was brought into the attack and Dammika Prasad helped himself to two boundaries in the 201st over.
India's agony ended when Dammika Prasad holed out to Mishra at the midwicket boundary off Harbhajan for 21, forcing Sri Lanka to declare their innings on a mammoth score of 760 for seven declared.
Prasanna Jayawardene finished unbeaten on 154 from 314 deliveries, inclusive of 11 boundaries, as Sri Lanka took a massive lead of 334 runs.
With four-and-half sessions still to go, the Indian batsmen face the tough task of having to survive for 134 overs on a pitch getting increasingly lower and slower.
The Indian bowling figures were a complete disappointment as all the frontline bowlers went for over 100 runs. Zaheer registered best figures with two for 109 in 36 overs, while fellow-pacer Ishant took two for 135 in 33 runs.
The spinners looked completely out of place, with Harbhajan claiming two for 189 in 48.4 overs and Mishra being smashed for one for 203 in 58 overs.
It did not matter to Sehwag what plight his team was in. He set out on attack right from the word go, slamming the first ball he faced through the cover region for a boundary in the first over of the innings, by Chanaka Welegedara.
In the next over from Dammika Prasad, he repeated the dose as the bowler pitched full and wide. In the same over, on 11, he enjoyed a huge slice of luck when his edge flew between the two Jayawardenes standing at first slip and wicketkeeper. It was wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene's second drop of the innings, having earlier grassed Sehwag off a no-ball.
Gambhir, having a tough time with the bat in the last few months, bagged his first boundary when he caressed a full delivery from Welegedara through extra cover as India raced to 24 from three overs.
It was easy going for even the Indian batsmen as Gambhir proved when he drove Prasad for his second boundary, through the off-side, as India reached 34 for no loss after six overs.
Left-arm spinner Herath was introduced into the attack early in the ninth over, ahead of Muttiah Muralitharan. Sehwag went after Herath as he played the lofted shot over the cover region and despite not getting it off the middle got a boundary.
Sehwag got lucky for the second time when Muralitharan missed the stumps at the non-striker's end as the batsman attempted a quick single in the 10th over. In the same over he flicked a full, straight delivery from Prasad through midwicket for a boundary to take India to 52 after ten overs.
It was surprising to see Sri Lanka, despite the big lead, go on the defensive by having a fielder on the point boundary to prevent Sehwag from getting boundaries.
Muralitharan went for a boundary in his first over when Gambhir played the late cut wide between the slip and short third man fielder. Sehwag attempted the cut short against Muralitharan as the ball just flew wide off the slip fielder for a boundary in the 16th over.
Post-tea session: (29 overs, 113 runs, 2 wickets)
Sehwag completed his half-century (off 63 deliveries) in some style when he danced down the wicket and hit Herath through midwicket for a boundary in the first over after the break.
However, four deliveries later he caused his own downfall when attempting another big shot across the line and holed out to mid-on for 51 from 67 deliveries, inclusive of seven boundaries.
Sehwag tried to loft Herath over midwicket but got a top edge and was held by Angelo Mathews, giving Sri Lanka their first wicket. (81-1, 17)
Despite Muralitharan having two slips in place, Gambhir hit him for a boundary through the third man as he once again guided it wide of the slips to move to 34.
In the next over, first innings centurion Dravid got his first boundary when he despatched a short delivery from Herath for a boundary through midwicket in the 21st over.
Gambhir cracked a full delivery from Herath wide of the mid-off fielder for his fifth boundary that also brought up India's 100 in the 23rd over.
Even the Sri Lankan spinners were finding it difficult to control the flow of runs as the Indian batsmen stroked 15 boundaries in the first 25 overs to reach 113 for one.
Dravid was doing to the Sri Lankan spinners what Mahela Jayawardene had done to the Indian spinners. Every time Muralitharan dropped it short or wide, Dravid was quick to pounce and steer it through the third man region for a boundary as was the case in the 28th over.
Gambhir brought up his half-century, his 11th in Tests, off 76 deliveries, with a single on the leg side in the 31st over. The left-hander had played quite sensibly and while he hit five boundaries, he also showed great purpose to keep the strike rotating with 22 singles.
In the same over, Gambhir brought up the 50-run stand for the second wicket in style when he cut a short delivery from Herath through the point region.
Muralitharan had a bad day with the ball. Dravid smashed him past the cover fielder for a boundary as the veteran spinner went for 53 runs in 13 overs, having conceded six boundaries.
Dravid continued finding the third man boundary at regular intervals; he guided pacer Prasad for his fifth boundary, out of six, through the off-side.
Just when it looked India would end the day without any further casualty, they lost the wicket of Dravid for 38 (66 deliveries, 6 boundaries). The right-hander was unlucky to be given out leg before wicket against Welegedara to a delivery that swung in and would have missed the leg stump, but umpire Daryl Harper thought otherwise. (169-2, 40.1)
India sent in night-watchman Amit Mishra instead of risking Sachin Tendulkar for the last few overs. Mishra showed his potential with the bat when he slammed Welegedara through the covers for a boundary and followed it with another one in the next over when he guided Prasad through third man.
Gambhir finished unbeaten on 74 from 120 deliveries, inclusive of seven boundaries, as India closed the day on 190 for two in 45 overs. Night-watchman Mishra played his part to remain not out on 12 from 25 deliveries, having hit two boundaries.
Though they started off well in their second innings, the Indians must be ruing the loss of two wickets. While Sehwag threw his wicket away attempting an outrageous shot, Dravid was unlucky to be given out quite late in the day.
The comforting factor for them would be that no Sri Lankan bowler was able to make an impression, and Muralitharan, again, had an ordinary outing, going for 56 runs in 14 overs.
With three more sessions to go, India will be hoping they can have another good session in the morning and wipe off the 144-run deficit.
Sri Lanka though will be looking to scalp a few early wickets on the final day in a bid to win their first Test in India.