The hosts relied on the heroics of their tailenders Rangana Herath (80 not out) and Lasith Malinga (64) to rattle up a mammoth total before declaring their innings at tea and shut a struggling India out of the game.
Herath and Malinga turned out to be the unlikely batting heroes as the islanders recovered from a few early jolts and had the visitors in trouble by the end of the day by dismissing Gautam Gambhir (2), Rahul Dravid (18) and Sachin Tendulkar (8).
Virender Sehwag (85), who payed with his usual flamboyance, and VVS Laxman (18) ensured that there were no more setbacks as they took the score to 140/3 at close on the third day with the hosts still trailing by 380 runs.
With two days left in the match and the pitch at the Galle International stadium expected to deteriorate, the Indians need to bat out of their skin to ensure that Muttiah Muralitharan's swansong Test ends in a draw. The day clearly belonged to the hosts as they not only consolidated their position by amassing a huge score but also scalped three prized wickets.