After the first session on Saturday, when Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul piled on the runs, it looked like India were on their way to another 600 score in the first innings of a Test match against Sri Lanka. But then, the Lankans showed the kind of fight with the ball they haven't shown yet in this series to pull things back brilliantly and leave the third Test in Pallekele nicely poised.

When Dhawan (119, 123b, 17x4) and Rahul (85, 135b, 8x4), involved in a 188-run partnership, were going strong, India looked capable of batting Sri Lanka out of the Test match for the third consecutive game, such was the pair's dominance.

Both of them had half-lives given to them by Sri Lanka, but apart from that odd chance, they were thoroughly in control, with the home team's bowling attack struggling to cope with the onslaught, particularly from the blade of Dhawan.

It took the sixth bowler of the day to come in and finally break the partnership and with it change the balance of the game.

Malinda Pushpakumara (18-2-40-3) did not have the greatest of debut Test matches at the SSC, although he did get better the more he bowled, but on day one in Kandy, the left-arm orthodox showed why he has taken bucketloads of wickets in first-class cricket.

Pushpakumara broke the big partnership of the two India openers, with Rahul chipping a ball to Dimuth Karunaratne, who took a nice catch on the jump at mid-on.

Dhawan then was picked up quite stunningly by the captain Dinesh Chandimal, who dived full length to his left at square-leg to snaffle a sweep.

Shikhar Dhawan, India, Sri Lanka
Shikhar Dhawan scored another brilliant century, August 12, 2017Reuters

Two wickets from Pushpakumara, and Sri Lanka were back in the game, all the more so, when Cheteshwar Pujara (8, 33b) edged one to give left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandikan his first wicket of the series.

The home team then kept picking up wickets at regular intervals, with the India batsmen unable to go on and make big scores despite getting starts.

Ajinkya Rahane (17, 48b, 1x4) was Pushpakumara's third wicket of the day, while Virat Kohli (42, 84b, 3x4) threw his wicket away with a wayward shot outside the off-stump.

R Ashwin (31, 75b, 1x4) was then dismissed by the left-arm medium pacer – all six wickets that fell today were taken by left-armers – Vishwa Fernando right towards the end, as India finished on 329/6 in 90 overs.

While that is still a pretty good score on a wicket that looks like it might start to take turn from day three, the manner in which Sri Lanka fought back makes it feel like the home team's day.