Sachin Tendulkar began his 21st year in international cricket with a cracking cover drive. The 36-year-old dispatched the relatively wide delivery and the Sardar Patel erupted in applause in anticipation. But two balls later Chanaka Welegedara brought one in from just outside the off stump to gate crash the party and stun the crowd into silence.
Tendulkar was Welegedara's third scalp in four overs and when VVS Laxman dragged a Dammika Prasad delivery onto his stumps in the eighth over, memories of India's capitulation against South Africa in the last Test played here must have come back to haunt skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
But the reliable Rahul Dravid (177 not out) and the explosive Yuvraj Singh (68 runs, 93 balls, 13x4) counterattacked on a track that proved to be a batting beauty.
Dravid became only the fifth batsman to complete 11,000 Test runs and Dhoni (110, 159b, 10x4, 1x6) cobbled together his second Test century to take India to a commanding 385 for 6 at stumps on the opening day of the first Test match after electing to bat.
Dravid and Dhoni added 224 runs, the third highest partnership by an Indian pair for the sixth wicket, before the latter played an expansive shot to be caught behind with just three overs remaining in the day.
Dravid is generally known for grafting and even on Monday he showed respect to the bowlers till he got his eye in.
Dravid found the fence for the first time off the 16th ball he faced but as he grew in confidence runs came thick and fast. He reached his half-century with a boundary off Welegedara in the third over after lunch before dispatching the paceman to the fence twice more in the same over.
Dravid and Yuvraj added 125 for the fifth wicket before the latter gave Tillakaratne Dilshan the easiest of catches at short cover, trying to defend a Muralitharan delivery after dancing down the track.
The reversal failed to stop Dravid as he continued to dominate, reaching his 27th ton, his 11th at home, and second against Sri Lanka.
Even Dhoni reached a personal landmark on the opening day, bringing up his 2000th run in his 38th Test. The wicketkeeper batsman was lucky to survive a leg before appeal in the 83rd over when umpire Tony Hill felt that a Welegedara delivery had not straightened enough to hit the stumps.
Sri Lanka's bowling lacked bite on a track that offered them no assistance and Herath, who was picked ahead of Ajantha Mendis, was below par.
Welegedara impressed in the morning session, but once the moisture in the wicket evaporated even he was put to sword.