New Delhi:Muttiah Muralitharan lived up to his reputation and spelled trouble for India on the third day of the first Test in Colombo as he picked four key wickets of Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Dinesh Karthik to put Sri Lanka in driver's seat.
Replying to Sri Lanka's 600-6 declared, Indian batsmen struggled and failed to read Murali and Mendis. Follow-on seems a firm possibility on the fourth day when VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble resume batting as Murali reduced India to 159/6.
Indian opener Virender Sehwag made 25 runs and added 36 runs for the first wicket when a bouncer from Nuwan Kulasekara saw him back. Gambhir too failed to play a big knock and succumbed to Muralitharan's spin as his 150th victim at the SSC for 39 runs.
Next to depart was Rahul Dravid who could make just 14 runs before mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis put an end to his excursions.
Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar then along with Sourav Ganguly and added 44 runs for the fourth wicket. But Murali struck again and removed Sachin for 27 runs. Ganguly (27) and Karthik (9) too fell in quick succession.
Bad light did not help India's cause either as it interrupted the play twice and finally the umpires decided to call it a day. The day saw just a 45-over long game.
Earlier, four Sri Lankan batsmen -- Malinda Warnapura (115), Mahela Jayawardene (136), Thilan Samaraweera (127) and Tillakratane Dilshan (125 not out) -- scored centuries as Sri Lanka reached their second highest total in Tests against India.
Tillakaratne Dilshan made the most of his reprieve under cricket's new laws to hit an unbeaten 102, boosting Sri Lanka's first innings score to a commanding 552-6 at lunch on Friday's third day of the first Test against India.
He was initially given out caught behind, but after challenging that decision it was referred to the third umpire, who ruled there was no contact between bat and ball.
Resuming the day at 422-4, the host team lost two wickets in Friday's opening session.
Thilan Samaraweera (127) slashed at a Zaheer Khan delivery out side the off stump and was caught at gully by V.V.S Laxman with the score at 454. He faced 224 balls and hit 18 boundaries.
Prasanna Jayawardene was caught by Ishant Sharma off spinner Harbhajan Singh. He was involved in a 91-run partnership with Dilshan.
Dilshan's unbeaten 102 came off 146 balls and included 10 fours and a six.
The home side was making the most of a batting paradise and India's catching lapses, with three other batsmen - captain Mahela Jayawardene (136), Malinda Warnapura (115) and Samaraweera (127) - also scoring centuries.
Khan, Sharma and Singh picked up two wickets each for India.