(CNN) -- Virender Sehwag is poised to notch his 21st Test century after his quickfire knock on Wednesday kept the third and deciding match between India and Sri Lanka in the balance.
The India opener smashed 97 off 87 deliveries despite the hosts' best efforts to set defensive fields, guiding his team to 180-2 at stumps on day two in reply to Sri Lanka's first innings of 425.
The 31-year-old crashed 17 boundaries as he added an unbroken 88 for the third wicket with Sachin Tendulkar in Colombo, with their top-ranked team needing to win to level the series at 1-1.
Tendulkar, playing in a world-record 169th Test, was similarly aggressive as he followed up his 203 from the previous drawn match with 40 off 66 balls, hitting five boundaries.
Sri Lanka, who will move up to third in the Test rankings after this series, resumed play on 293-4 with Thilan Samaraweera on 65 and Angelo Matthews on 26.
Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha ended their 89-run stand when he trapped Mathews leg before wicket for 45, but Prasanna Jayawardene helped Samaraweera reached his 12th Test century just before lunch.
He almost ran himself out on 99 trying to snatch a single, but survived after the third umpire ruled not out after a direct throw hit the stumps.
The home team lost their last four wickets for just 44 runs after lunch, with fast bowler Ishant Sharma taking two wickets and Sehwag and leg-spinner Amit Mishra one each.
Samaraweera was left unbeaten on 137 off 288 deliveries, hitting 12 boundaries and a six.
India lost Murali Vijay for 14 when the opener lifted Lasith Malinga to Ajantha Mendis at short extra-cover, leaving the sling-arm pace bowler on 99 Test wickets.
Rahul Dravid played an uncharacteristically brisk knock of 23 off 26 balls before being trapped lbw in Mathews' first over with the score at 92-2.
Sehwag -- who made 99 in the second Test -- survived after hitting a return catch to the same bowler on 52, while Tendulkar edged through the slips off Suraj Randiv to bring up their 50-run partnership and then was rapped in the pads twice by the off-spinner in the final over of the day.
Meanwhile, Pakistan officials indicated that former captain Mohammad Yousuf is unlikely to play in the second Test against England starting on Friday after a delay in receiving his travel documentation.
The 35-year-old batsman was called up after Pakistan's 354-run defeat in the opening match of the four-Test series, despite having been given an indefinite ban in March for his role in the disastrous tour of Australia.
"He has got the visa today and he will be joining the team tomorrow. I don't know if he will have enough time to be ready for the Test," Shafqat Rana, Pakistan's associate manager told the Cricinfo website on Wednesday.