Fit-again Rahul hits fifty in strong India start

Lokesh Rahul (Getty Images)

Returning batsman Lokesh Rahul hit an unbeaten half-century to guide India to a strong start on the opening day of the second Test against Sri Lanka on Thursday.

India, who can clinch the three-Test series in Colombo, were 101 for one at lunch after winning the toss and choosing to bat. Rahul was on 52 with Cheteshwar Pujara on 14.

The pair put on an unbeaten 45-run stand for the second wicket after opener Shikhar Dhawan's departure for a 37-ball 35 that included five fours and a six.

Off-spinner Dilruwan Perera provided the only breakthrough for the hosts in the morning session after getting Dhawan trapped lbw at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground.

The left-handed opener was given not out by the on-field umpire but Sri Lanka successfully referred to get the decision overturned.

Rahul, who missed the first Test with a viral fever, scored his eighth Test fifty as he and Pujara thwarted a persistent Sri Lankan spin attack.

But Rahul survived an lbw scare on 19 when part-time bowler Dimuth Karunaratne got a decision in his favour, only for it overturned by the third umpire on review.

Left-arm spinners Rangana Herath and debutant Malinda Pushpakumara went wicketless in the first session.

The Dinesh Chandimal-led side, who trail the  series 1-0 after losing the first Test in Galle, need at least a draw to stay alive in the rubber.