India declined to enforce the follow-on after securing a 309-run first-innings lead, and extended it by a further 189 runs at stumps on day three. That special ability to dive around at any time of the day is crucial when a batsman is in top form as those opportunities will come only once or twice.
He made 126 runs between lunch and tea, the second most by an Indian batsman in a session, behind Virender Sehwag's 133, also against Sri Lanka in Bombay in 2009.
The sides will play three Tests, five one-day internationals and one T20 in what is their first series involving all three formats of the game since 2009. That brought an end to the Lankan innings since they have only 10 players available with Asela Gunaratne ruled out on the opening day due to a thumb injury.
Stand-in skipper Rangana Herath, the next man to bat, tried his best to build up a partnership with Perera (92*), who took the attack to the Indian bowlers with some scintillating strokes. Only three batsmen have scored more.
Opener Upul Tharanga was instrumental in giving Sri Lanka a good head start after the fall of Karunaratne wicket in the second over, the Lankan opener hit 64 in just 93 balls with ten hits to the fence but was run out by Mukund. The first one, a caught behind appeal for Pujara, was miles away from the bat, with no sound of either bat, ball, pad, or ground nicking each other, yet keeper Dickwella seemingly talked Herath into going upstairs for a needless break which served no goal.
Earlier, paceman Nuwan Pradeep clinched his maiden five-wicket Test haul, putting the brakes on India's free scoring.
Even after relinquishing the captaincy, Mathews held the key to Sri Lanka's survival after the hosts resumed on 154/5 and the former captain made 83 before Jadeja sent him back. Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin and Umesh Yadav, meanwhile, chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Dhawan then fell quickly, caught at backward point off Perera (1-20), chasing after a wide delivery. The left-handed opener struck 31 boundaries in a blazing 168-ball knock as the hosts toiled in the Galle field.
"Medical experts have indicated Gunaratne will be out of action for a minimum of 6-8 weeks, and will be returned to full mobility under a strictly managed rehabilitation regime over the period", it said in a statement.