KANPUR: Opener Gautam Gambhir top-scored with 167 as India piled up a record 417-2 on the first day of the second Test against Sri Lanka today.
Gambhir shared 233 runs for the opening wicket with Virender Sehwag (131) and another 137 for the second with Rahul Dravid to help the home side score their highest Test total in a day's play. India's previous best score in a day's play was 386-1 against South Africa in Chennai in March 2008. Dravid was unbeaten on 85 while Sachin Tendulkar was batting on 20 when stumps were drawn for the day.
Spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan (2-100) dismissed both Gambhir and Sehwag in an otherwise disappointing day for the Sri Lankans, seeking their first Test win on Indian soil. India's opening pair set the home side up for a big first-innings total on a track that offered little assistance to the bowlers, after captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat.
Sehwag reached his 16th Test century with a fine-leg boundary off Muralitharan and then hit the off-spinner for three fours in a row. But Muralitharan got his revenge soon after by having Sehwag caught by Tillakaratne Dilshan at short cover. Sehwag's 122-ball knock was studded with 18 fours and two sixes.
Gambhir, 28, also completed his eighth Test century in style, dancing down the track to Rangana Herath for a four to the long-off fence. His 215-ball innings containing 15 fours came to an end when he was caught and bowled by Muralitharan in the final session of the day.
The Indian openers did well to negotiate challenging early-morning conditions and avoid a repeat of events at the drawn first Test in Ahmedabad, which saw the hosts reduced to 32-4 early in the first session. Sehwag, dropped in the slips while yet to get off the mark, overcame a subdued start to hit his trademark shots against both the quicks and the spinners on the way to his 20th Test 50.
He twice drove fast bowler Angelo Mathews to mid-off for fours before smashing a full toss from unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis to the deep mid-wicket fence for the first six of the match. Gambhir was equally aggressive in his shot-making, forcing Herath off the attack after he hit the left-arm spinner for three fours in his opening over.
Mendis, who had picked up 26 wickets in Sri Lanka's 2-1 Test victory over India at home last year, looked particularly out-of-sorts, conceding 87 runs off his 19 overs. First-Test centurions Dravid and Tendulkar seemed to carry their form into the match and looked solid during their unbeaten stints at the wicket. Dravid, who made 177 at Ahmedabad, had so far hit eight fours in his patient 153-ball effort.
The third and final Test begins in Mumbai on December 2.