Nagpur: It was just a matter of when rather than if, and given Sri Lanka's pattern of losses in recent times, it came as little surprise that their capitulation was complete in just over a session's play.
Overnight 21/1 and still 384 runs in arrears to India's first innings total of 610 for six declared, Sri Lanka seemed to be delaying the inevitable through Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne who resisted the Indian bowlers for close to half an hour on the fourth morning of the second Test here at the VCA Stadium on Monday. The rot, however, set in soon after the dismissal of Karunaratne whose flick off R Ashwin (4/63) got stuck into M Vijay at short leg.
The tourists then batted with the discipline of amateurs and the impetuousness of school kids to lose their direction and the match. All the four Indian bowlers got amongst wickets as the hosts registered their joint biggest Test win -- innings and 239 runs -- after skittling Lanka for 166 in 49.3 overs. India had beaten Bangladesh by identical margin in 2007 in Dhaka. Incidentally, this was Lanka's biggest defeat with the previous one â€“ innings and 229 runs -- being against South Africa in 2001. That Ashwin became the fastest to 300 Test wickets when he cleaned up Lahiru Gamage was the perfect icing on the cake. The off-spinner achieved the feat in 54 matches, surpassing Dennis Lillee's record of 56.
Skipper Dinesh Chandimal (61) waged a lone battle in a losing cause even as the rest of the batsmen surrendered without as much of a fight. The pitch offered some turn but it was not vicious. Though there was variable bounce and the odd ball did kick up whenever the pacers hit the cracks, it wasn't unnegotiable. Karunaratne and Thirimanne appeared to be doing just that as they kept Indian bowlers at bay for over 15 overs before they lost their bearings.
Thirimanne flashed wildly at Umesh Yadav's harmless and widish delivery to offer a straightforward catch to Ravindra Jadeja at backward point. Angelo Mathews continued his disappointing show, hitting Jadeja (2/28) straight to Rohit Sharma at mid-off. Ishant Sharma (2/43), who had dismissed Sadeera Samarwickrama off the second ball of the innings on Sunday evening, bowled a ripper to get rid of Niroshan Dickwella. Bowling from round the wicket to southpaw, the gangly paceman got the ball to rear up and take the outside edge en route to Virat Kohli at second slip, the skipper taking a one-handed catch on second attempt. From 34 for 1, Lanka suddenly had slipped to 75 for five.
While the Indian bowlers bowled with great discipline again, Lanka didn't show the application required to stay on the wicket. The embarrassment went unabated when Dasun Shanaka, who took 16 runs off an Ashwin over, Dilruwan Perera and Rangana Herath fell in the space of five runs. With only two wickets to go, the session was extended by 15 minutes but that's when Lanka had their most productive partnership (58 runs off 68 balls) between Chandimal and Suranga Lakmal (31 n.o.). The duo, playing some counterattacking cricket, took the game into the second session but it wasn't long before India performed the final rites.
Umesh finally ended Chandimal's resistance when the right-hander flicked straight to Ashwin at fine-leg. That brought about an interesting situation in the middle. With Chandimal becoming Umesh's 99th Test victim and Ashwin already on 299, it set a light-hearted race between the two bowlers, who were bowling in tandem, with their respective milestones at striking distance.
Ashwin eventually won the "battle" when the off-spinner had Lahiru Gamage's off bail dislodged which had to be confirmed via replays. Before the TV umpire could confirm the dismissal, Ashwin's team-mates had begun congratulating him, Kohli being the first among them.