Lakmal triple strike boosts Sri Lanka hopes of win

KOLKATA: Sri Lanka paceman Suranga Lakmal's inspired spell on the fifth and final morning of their series opener gave his side hope of registering a maiden test win on Indian soil on Monday.

The touring side have failed to record an away victory in 17 tests against their hosts and will need quick wickets after lunch to end that run when India resume on 251 for five in their second innings, a lead of 129 with two sessions remaining.

At the break, India captain Virat Kohli was unbeaten on 41 with Ravichandran Ashwin yet to score at the other end.

The 30-year-old Lakmal was the most successful bowler for Sri Lanka in the first innings of the three-test series with four wickets and he returned to haunt the world's top-ranked side with a triple strike in the second.

After resuming on 171-1, India were cruising, before Lakmal got a delivery to jag back off the seam and breach KL Rahul's defence to dismiss the right-hander for 79.

Lakmal then sent back the dependable Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in the same over to reduce the hosts to 213-4.

Dilruwan Perera dived forward to complete a brilliant catch to dismiss Pujara for 22, while Rahane was out leg before without scoring.

Kohli, who appeared unsure of his footwork at the start of his innings, then added 36 for the fifth wicket with Ravindra Jadeja to steady the ship before his partner perished to off-spinner Perera shortly before lunch.

Sri Lanka still face an uphill battle to force a result in the contest, needing to remove five more Indian batsman before chasing down a manageable target with a minimum of 69 overs remaining in the day's play.