An unrelenting Ravichandran Ashwin bowled tail-ender Lahiru Gamage, his eighth wicket in the match, for his 300th wicket in just his 54th Test match, and brought victory by an innings and 239 runs. The win helped India take a 1-0 lead in the three match series against Sri Lanka.
The victory margin matched India’s biggest Test match win against Bangladesh in Mirpur in 2007.
India had declared its first innings then at 610 for three wickets. Behind India's first innings score by 405 runs, Sri Lanka, palpably, did not have the motivation to compete against a dominant home team that had dictated terms with ball and bat in the first three days of the second Test here at the VCA Stadium.
To start with, opener Sadeera Samarawickrama, playing only in his sixth Test match innings, looked utterly confused in the closing minutes on the third day and offered his wicket on a platter to Ishant Sharma.
Chandimal's lone fight
In the first session on the fourth day, the visitor’s team, barring its captain, Dinesh Chandimal and to an extent Suranga Lakmal, fell like a pack of cards.
The umpires put lunch on hold for fifteen minutes after the downfall of Rangana Herath five minutes before the long interval to find out if the home team would be able to wrap up the match. As it transpired, Lakmal showed sufficient gall to keep the Indian bowlers at bay for eleven overs and two balls.
With their team staring at an inevitable defeat, Chandimal and Lakmal went after the Indian bowlers, especially Ashwin, who himself was perhaps trying to force mishits from the batsmen.
Dasun Shanaka threw his wrist at everything and sent the ball twice over the rope off Ashwin, before K.L. Rahul completed a high catch at mid-on. Soon, Herath departed and Sri Lanka faced the prospect of folding up before lunch.
The wait for the inevitable
But Chandimal and Lakmal held on for 41 minutes before the Sri Lankan captain flicked Umesh Yadav straight to Ashwin at long leg. This wicket brought Yadav one wicket close to his 100th Test scalp.
Chandimal defied the Indian attack with a great degree of confidence to score his 15th half century and the ninth wicket cost India 58 runs. Chandimal was a class act, carving Yadav for an off-side boundary and picking up eight more, but after a 110-minute confrontation, he flicked the same bowler of his pads to Ashwin positioned at long leg.
Gamage defended for a further ten minutes before getting beaten of the wicket to be bowled.
The fourth day’s proceedings began with Virat Kohli deploying a spin-pace combination in Ashwin and Ishant Sharma.
India came close to making a first breakthrough when left-hander Dimuth Karunaratne nicked the Delhi fast bowler short of Cheteshwara Pujara at slip. The home team sent the first Sri Lankan batsman indoors when Kohli rung in a change, replacing Ashwin with Ravindra Jadeja.
Immediately, Karunaratne attempted an on-side shot off the left-arm spinner and the short-leg fielder Murali Vijay managed to control the catch with his hands and legs.
Wicketless in the first innings, Yadav struck soon after taking over from I. Sharma. He invited Lahiru Thirmanne with a widish delivery and the left-hander steered the ball straight to Jadeja at backward point.
Clearly, the massive lead began to tell on the Sri Lankans. Immediately after the drinks break, Angelo Mathews drove Jadeja straight onto the hands of mid-off and Niroshan Dickwella fed a lifter to Kohli at second slip who held the catch with the right hand after missing it with both hands.
Kohli used the fast bowlers and the spinners in short spells and reaped rewards.
This was a Test match where India called the shots right through. Fittingly, India won it with almost five sessions of play remaining and a few hours before the selection committee chose the squad for the remaining part of the series against Sri Lanka, and for the three-Test series in South Africa.