Colombo:Sachin Tendulkarslammed a monumental 203 and Suresh Raina notched up his maiden century as India surpassed Sri Lanka's mammoth first innings total with a solid batting display in the second cricket Test which seemed headed for a tame draw on Thursday.
Tendulkar gave ample display of his class and stamina by anchoring the innings brilliantly as the visitors cruised to 669 for nine at close on the penultimate day in response to Sri Lanka's first innings total of 642 for four declared.
Debutant Raina, who came into the team as a replacement for the indisposed Yuvraj Singh, made the most of the opportunity by scoring 120 while captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (76) was the other notable performer for the Indians.
Ishant Sharma (10) and last man Pragyan Ojha (0) were at the crease at stumps with India having a slender lead of 27 runs.
With just one day left and the track at the Sinhalese Sports ground still playing easy, it is almost certain that the match will end in a draw. In case of a draw, India will maintain their status as the number one Test team in the ICC rankings.
It was Tendulkar again who stole the spotlight on the peneultimate day's play as he notched up his fifth double century and featured in a 256-run partnership for the fifth wicket with debutant Raina which proved to be the backbone of India's resistance.
The champion batsman was a picture of concentration as he steered India to safety with a masterly knock which spanned almost four sessions.
Overnight 382 for four, India needed 61 more runs to avoid the follow at the start of play today and it did not seem to be much a problem with Tendulkar and Raina batting confidently.
Raina became the 12th debutant century maker for India and was involved in a record fifth wicket partnership with Tendulkar.
The stout Raina did well to drill a short-pitched Dilhara Fernando delivery between extra cover and mid off for boundary.
Tendulkar, on his part, executed a perfectly-timed square cut to a 140 kph Prasad delivery as India inched towards a position of safety.
Dammika Prasad rattled Tendulkar with a short-pitched delivery which hit the Indian's helmet and raced to the boundary.
The 256-run partnership between Tendulkar and Raina was brought to and end by Ajantha Mendis much to the relief of the hosts.
After hitting a Mendis delivery through the covers for a boundary, Raina failed to keep down the on drive off the same bowler and popped it straight to the waiting Kumar Sangakkara at short mid-wicket.
Raina's 120 came in 228 balls and was studded with two sixes and 12 hits to the boundary.
Dhoni, who came in for Raina, did not take much time to settle down as he pounded off-spinner Suraj Randiv for two consecutive boundaries.
Towards tea break, he lofted a flighted delivery from Mendis to the mid-off boundary before hitting Dammika Prasad for two consecutive fours.
Tendulkar, on the other hand, punished Prasad and Dilhara Fernando whenever they erred in line and length.
The Indian maestro showed his class when he hit a 147 kmph Fernando delivery with a silken touch of his blade with the ball finding way to the fine-leg fence.
Tendulkar was a bit lucky as his paddle-sweep kissed wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene's gloves before the ball raced to the fine-leg boundary.
Just as the post-lunch session began, Tendulkar smashed a boundary off spinner Randiv along the carpet to the cover boundary.
Tendulkar was dimissed immediately after the tea break with part-time bowler Tillakaratne Dilshan providing the breakthough.
The champion batsman was caught by Prasanna Jayawardene behind the stump. His marathon knock of 203 came off 347 balls and contained 23 boundaries and a six.
Dilshan struck again in the same over by evicting Harbhajan Singh with captain Kumar Sangakkara taking a simple catch.
Dhoni then combined with Abhimanyu Mithun to steer India past Sri Lanka's total of 642 for four declared.
The Indian captain fell soon after offering a return catch to Dilshan who picked up his third wicket in the post-tea session.