India found themselves in trouble despite Virender Sehwag's unbeaten half-century after Sri Lanka had amassed a huge first innings total on day three of the rain-affected first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle, on Tuesday.
Sehwag continued his love affair with Galle as he raced to 85 from 98 balls, having hit 14 fours and a six. The India opener had scored a double century (201) in his previous Test at this venue.
VVS Laxman was unbeaten on 18 from 31 balls as India finished the day on 140 for three in 29.4 overs, trailing Sri Lanka's first innings score by 380 runs.
Lasith Malinga provided Sri Lanka with the early breakthrough when he claimed the wicket of India opener Gambhir, who was trapped leg before wicket for two. Rahul Dravid was run out for 18 as he attempted an impossible second run, after having added 66 runs in 72 balls for the second wicket with Virender Sehwag. Tendulkar, who made eight, tried to sweep a full delivery from Muralitharan but missed and was trapped leg before wicket as India were reduced to 101 for three in 21 overs.
Earlier, Rangana Herath and Lasith Malinga hit their maiden half-centuries to take Sri Lanka to a mammoth total 520 for eight in 124 overs before they declared their innings.
Rangana Herath posted his highest Test score as he smashed an unbeaten 80 from 93 balls, having hit 10 boundaries and a six.Malinga slammed a quick 64 from 75 balls, laced with nine fours and two sixes before he top edged a pull shot and was caught on the fine leg boundary off Abhimanyu Mithun, who took four for 105 on his debut.
Herath and Malinga added 115 runs in 23 overs for the eighth wicket, Sri Lanka's highest for this wicket against India.
Ishant had struggled to find his rhythm on day one, but he bounced back in style on day three with a remarkable spell in the morning session to claim three for 145 in 28 overs.
But the frontline spinners -- Harbhajan Singh (98 runs in 30 overs ) and Pragyan Ojha (115 runs in 28 overs) -- disappointed as they went wicketless while conceding a lot of runs.
Tharanga Paranavitana, who resumed on 110, could add only one run to his overnight total before he edged an outgoing delivery from Ishant and was caught behind. In the next over, Samaraweera, dropped on zero by Rahul Dravid at first slip, didn't make most of the opportunity and was trapped leg before wicket by Mithun. Mahela Jayawardene struggled against Ishant before he was trapped leg before wicket for 48, having hit six boundaries in his 78-ball knock. Angelo Mathews stroked 41 from 58 balls, with the help of six fours, before he was brilliantly caught by VVS Laxman at second slip off the same bowler.
For the third straight day, the start of play in the first Test between India and Sri Lanka was delayed because of a wet outfield. The match finally got underway at 1030 IST after the start was delayed by an hour. The second day's play was washed out because of persistent rain, while only 68 overs were possible on day one because of the same reason.
Resuming on 256 for two in 68 overs, Sri Lanka lost a couple of early wickets.
Ishant gave India an early boost when he claimed the wicket of Paranavitana in his first over. The left-hander edged an outgoing delivery and was brilliantly caught by wicketkeeper Dhoni diving full length to his left after a good innings of 111, inclusive of 12 boundaries in his 233-ball knock.
After struggling on the opening day, Ishant was at menacing best and seemed to have found his rhythm right from the start. Thilan Samaraweera got a rude wake up call off the first ball he faced as he was struck right on the helmet as he tried to avoid a short delivery from Ishant.
India should have got another wicket in the very next over but Rahul Dravid dropped an easy catch at first slip. Mithun induced an edge off Samaraweera, but Dravid messed up the easy offering.
However, Mithun had his man a couple of deliveries later when he trapped Samaraweera leg before wicket as the right-hander played all over an incoming delivery to be dismissed for a duck.
Mahela Jayawardene looked in good touch right from the start as he hit a boundary each in consecutive overs from the two pacers.
After eight overs from the pacers, India introduced spin in the form of Harbhajan Singh, who looked in much better shape than on the opening day and Pragyan Ojha from the other end.
Once again Sri Lanka were intent on not letting Ojha settle down as Jayawardene charged down the wicket and lofted him back down the ground for a boundary, in the 78th over.
Mathews and Jayawardene looked quite settled despite the pitch offering quite a lot of assistance to the spinners. The two batsmen preferred to play late and rotated the strike quite well to keep the scoreboard moving as Sri Lanka crossed the 300-run mark in the 82nd over.
With the spinners unable to make any sort of impression, Dhoni brought back his pacers just ahead of the lunch break. Ishant bowled a wonderful first over in his new spell as he beat Jayawardene all ends up for four deliveries in a row with his movement.
Ishant ended Jayawardene's misery a couple of overs later when he trapped him leg before wicket with the incoming delivery for a brisk 48 from 78 balls, inclusive of six boundaries.
That wicket saw Mathews changing gears as he looked to attack the two pacers. First he danced down the wicket and pulled a short delivery from Mithun through midwicket for a boundary. In the next over, he went after Ishant driving him through covers followed by a lofted shot down the ground for a couple of boundaries in that over to take the total to 341 for five in 90 overs.
Harbhajan went for 17 runs in the final over of the session as Prasanna Jayawardene hit him for a couple of fours and a huge six over midwicket.
At lunch on day three, Sri Lanka reached 361 for six in 93 overs with Prasanna unbeaten on 20 from 18 balls.
Ishant was at his best with the ball once again as he bowled a remarkable spell of three for 38 in nine overs for total figures of three for 117 in 23 overs, while Mithun continued his impressive showing with two for 66.
But Sri Lanka would be glad that they managed to hit 105 runs in 25 overs, while losing four wickets in the first session.
Post lunch session:
Rangana Herath got off the mark with a boundary when he pulled a short delivery from Mithun through fine leg in the first over of the session. The left-hander was looking to attack the bowlers as he slammed Harbhajan for a couple of boundaries followed by a six off Mithun over long-on.
In the same over, Mithun claimed the wicket of Prasanna, his third of the innings. The right-hander shuffled across his stumps but missed the ball and was trapped leg before wicket for 27.
With Herath playing confidently, Lasith Malinga also looked to open up his shoulders as he carted Ishant for a couple of boundaries in the 104th over.
Herath completed his maiden fifty in Tests off just 53 balls in some style when he cut Harbhajan for a boundary through the point region.
Malinga slammed Ojha for three boundaries in the 112th over to take Sri Lanka past the 450-run mark and also break the record for the highest eight-wicket partnership for Sri Lanka against India.
It was a really sorry sight to see the Indian bowlers, especially the two spinners, struggling to make any sort of impression against the two tailenders.
Malinga cut Sehwag through point for his ninth boundary and then took a single off the next delivery to complete his fifty off 66 balls.
As if to celebrate the landmark, Malinga smashed Ojha for back to back sixes over long-on to bring up the 500 for Sri Lanka in the 120th over.
It was Mithun, who provided India with the much-needed breakthrough, when he got the wicket of Malinga for 64. The right-hander hit nine boundaries and two sixes in his 75-ball knock before he top edged a pull shot and was caught on the fine leg boundary.
Muttiah Muralitharan, playing his final Test, walked out to a standing ovation from his beloved fans at Galle. The entire Indian team formed a guard of honour to welcome the legend in his final Test while fire crackers went off everywhere inside the stadium.
At tea on day three, Sri Lanka reached 520 for eight in 124 overs, having scored 159 runs in 31 overs in the session while losing just two wickets, before declaring their innings.
Herath stole the show with a cracking knock of 80 from 93 balls, inclusive of 10 fours and a six, and it was only fair that Sri Lanka gave him time after tea to get his maiden hundred.
Mithun toiled hard to claim 105 for four in 28 overs, while Ishant took three for 145 in 28 overs. But the frontline spinners -- Harbhajan Singh (98 runs in 30 overs) and Pragyan Ojha (115 runs in 28 overs) -- disappointed as they went wicketless while conceding a lot of runs in the process.
Post tea session:
India lost an early wicket when Gautam Gambhir was trapped leg before wicket for two by Lasith Malinga in the very first over of the innings.
In the next over, Virender Sehwag scored the first boundary of the Indian innings when he flicked Chanaka Welegedara through the leg side and a few deliveries later cut one through point for another four.
The India opener was severe on anything outside the off-stump as he slammed Welegedara back to back boundaries throught that region to take the total to 37 for one after six overs.
Sehwag repeated the dose in the pacer's next over as he helped himself to another couple of boundaries to take his boundary count to seven and race to 29 from 31 balls.
Interestingly, Sri Lanka introduced Rangana Herath ahead of Muralitharan but even he suffered at the hands of Sehwag and was hit for two boundaries in his first over.
The Sehwag-Dravid partnership was working to perfection for India but against the run of play the latter threw his wicket away. The two batsmen had a huge misunderstanding and Dravid was run out for 18 at the non-striker's end attempting an impossible second run in the 13th over of the innings.
Meanwhile, Sehwag brought up his half-century off 63 balls with a single on the leg side in the 18th over.
In the next over, the India opener then went after Muralitharan as he swept him for a boundary through fine leg and then slammed the next delivery down the ground for a six to take the total to 91 for two after 19 overs.
Muttiah Muralitharan went for runs early in his spell, but he announced himself in some style with the big wicket of Sachin Tendulkar.
The veteran batsman misjudged the length as he tried to play the sweep shot and was trapped leg before wicket for eight.
With the lights fading, even Sehwag was content to shut shop and just wait for the play to be called off. VVS Laxman showed great concentration and was solid in defence as play carried on well after the scheduled close at 1745 IST.
It was not long before the umpires had enough and called stumps to end the third day's play.
Sehwag was looking good for another century as he finished unbeaten on a splendid innings of 85 from 98 balls, having hit 14 fours and a six. Laxman was unbeaten on 18 from 31 balls as India finished the day on 140 for three in 29.4 overs.
The pitch still looks good for batting as was shown by Sehwag and India must be ruing having thrown a couple of wickets away. Dravid perished attempting a non-existent second run off a misfield, while Tendulkar tried a reckless sweep shot and was trapped leg before wicket.
Once again Malinga made things happen as he dished out a lot of variety during his spell of one for 40 in nine overs, while Muralitharan inched a step closer to the 800-wicket mark as he claimed one for 31.