Captain Kumar Sangakkara struck an imperious century and Tharanga Paranavitana closed in on his maiden test hundred Sunday to lift Sri Lanka to 228-1 at tea on the first day of the opening test.
Resuming the second session on 91-1, the pair frustrated the Indian bowlers by scoring 137 runs to stretch their unbeaten second-wicket stand to 173.
Sangakkara completed his 22nd test century and was 100 not out at the interval, having faced 141 balls and hit 12 boundaries. Opener Paranavitana (95 off 187 balls) played a more patient innings but still had hit 11 boundaries by tea.
A depleted India bowling lineup toiled and its only success was the scalp of Tillakaratne Dilshan (25), who was caught behind by Mahendra Dhoni off the bowling of debutant seamer Abhimanyu Mithun (1-40 off 12 overs). Dilshan hit six boundaries before he departed with the score on 55.
Sangakkara won the toss and elected to bat first at Galle International Stadium after a half-hour delay because of a wet ground.
India came into the match without injured key bowlers Zaheer Khan and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth.
The test was Sri Lanka offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan's last in a career spanning 18 years and 133 matches.
Muralitharan, who holds the world record for the number of test wickets claimed, needs eight more to become the first bowler to reach 800 test scalps.