India dismissed Sri Lanka for 269 in their second innings to win by an innings and 144 runs and register their 100th Test victory, on Day 4 of the second Test, at Green Park, in Kanpur, on Thursday.
Following-on, the visitors failed with the bat yet again, only Thilan Samaraweera going past the half-century mark to finish unbeaten on 77 from 121 deliveries, inclusive of 11 boundaries, but got little support from the other end.
Resuming on their overnight score of 57 for four in 23 overs, Sri Lanka took the attacking route on the fourth day. Angelo Mathews looked in a hurry as he hit Zaheer Khan for three consecutive boundaries in the second over of the day. But the left-arm pacer got his revenge when he had Mathews caught at gully, attempting a pull shot, for 15.
Harbhajan Singh then bowled Prasanna Jayawardene for 29 with a wonderful delivery that turned sharply, and a few overs later trapped Rangana Herath leg before wicket for 13.
Muttiah Muralitharan used the long handle to some effect as he smashed two sixes and three boundaries in a 11-ball 29 before he was bowled by Pragyan Ojha attempting a slog sweep.
Ajantha Mendis frustrated the Indians for an hour after lunch with a solid knock of 27, adding 73 runs for the ninth wicket, before he was trapped leg before wicket by Yuvraj Singh.
Debutant Pragyan Ojha finished off the match when he caught and bowled last-man Chanaka Welegedara for 4.
On day three, S Sreesanth, playing his first Test after a gap of nearly 18 months, claimed five wickets for 75 runs in 22 overs as the visitors conceded a 413 runs first innings deficit after India had amassed a mammoth 642 in their first innings.
Morning session: (27 overs, 149 runs, 4 wickets)
Sri Lanka started off positively, with Thilan Samaraweera hitting Sreesanth for a boundary in the first over of the day. In the next over, Angleo Mathews followed it up with a hat-trick of boundaries against Zaheer Khan as the left-arm pacer overstepped on two occasions.
But Zaheer had his revenge soon after when he got Matthews (15) with a short delivery that the batsman top edged and was taken by Rahul Dravid, diving forward from gully. (82-5, 24.4)
Zaheer continued to overstep in his next over and Samaraweera took advantage and clipped him through midwicket for his second boundary of the day to move to 15.
Prasanna Jayawardene also came out with a positive approach and hit boundaries in consecutive overs by the pacers to take Sri Lanka past 100 in the 30th over.
Sri Lanka scored at a brisk rate in the morning session, hitting 52 runs in seven overs, against the pacers before India brought on Pragyan Ojha in the 31st over.
Samaraweera was taking full toll and hitting boundaries quite regularly as he hit Sreesanth for three fours in the 32nd over. Twice in the over he flicked the pacer through midwicket as Sree drifted on the pads, while the last delivery of the over was guided through the vacant third man region.
Prasanna Jayawardene played a fine paddle sweep against Ojha for a boundary to bring up the 50-run partnership in 60 deliveries for the sixth wicket in the 35th over.
Harbhajan Singh finally broke through when he bowled Jayawardene through the gate with an almost perfect delivery that drifted a bit before turning sharply to sneak between bat and pad. The Sri Lanka wicketkeeper was starting to look confident during his innings of 29 from 45 deliveries, adding 61 runs for the sixth wicket with Samaraweera. (140-6, 37.5)
Rangana Herath looked to maintain an aggressive approach with consecutive boundaries off Harbhajan as Sri Lanka reached 152 for six after 40 overs.
But the off-spinner had the last laugh when he trapped the left-hander leg before wicket for 13 as he attempted another wild sweep on the leg side. (154-7, 41.2)
Muttiah Muralitharan started in some style with a straight six off Harbhajan and followed it up with boundaries off the next two deliveries with the slog sweep over midwicket. He then cut the off-spinner for a boundary through point off a wide short delivery to race to 23 from nine deliveries.
Samaraweera also looked to have some fun as he pulled a short delivery from Ojha over the midwicket fielder to move to 43.
Muralitharan continued having fun as he stepped down the wicket and launched Ojha over mid-on for his second six. But Ojha persevered and kept bowling straight on the stumps and was aptly rewarded with the wicket of Muralitharan, who was bowled for a quick 29 from just 11 deliveries, inclusive of two sixes and three boundaries, as he attempted to slog across the line. (191-8, 44.5)
Meanwhile, Virender Sehwag, standing at second slip, was heard on the stump microphone sledging Ajantha Mendis with a tempting offer of "200 dollars per six".
Samaraweera continued to wage a lone battle and brought up his half-century from 81 deliveries with a boundary through point to bring up Sri Lanka's 200 in the 49th over.
Mendis managed to survive for 21 deliveries, scoring five, as Sri Lanka reached 206 for eight in 50 overs. Samaraweera continued his good batting form with another battling half-century as he scored 54 not out from 84 deliveries, inclusive of eight boundaries at the lunch break.
With India keeping fielders all around the bat, the Sri Lankan lower order had a bit of fun as they hit 149 runs in 27 overs, at 5.5 runs per over, but, more importantly, they lost four wickets to find themselves on the brink.
Harbhajan's performance continued to improve as he took three for 70 in 17 overs, while the other four bowlers took a wicket each as India's domination continued. India will be hoping to finish off things quickly after lunch, while Samaraweera will look to delay the inevitable as long as possible.
Post-lunch session: (15.3 overs, 63 runs, 2 wickets)
Sri Lanka started with caution after lunch hoping to last as many overs as possible as they scored 15 runs in five overs after the break.
The worrying aspect for India though was the number of no-balls Zaheer was bowling. He continued to overstep and was hit for a boundary through fine leg by Mendis off the seventh no-ball he bowled in the innings.
Zaheer's struggle continued as he dished out two more no-balls in his next over and his figures read a sorry one for 63 in 11 overs, including nine no-balls.
Mendis was gaining in confidence; his defence kept getting more compact as Samaraweera looked for runs from the other end. Samaraweera appeared set for a big knock and was rarely troubled. He stepped down and flicked Harbhajan towards square leg for a boundary to move to 68 in the 58th over.
With Zaheer struggling with no-balls, Dhoni decided to replace him with Sreesanth, who had created a lot of problems with the old ball for the Sri Lankan batsmen .
Samaraweera played a sweep off Harbhajan fine on the leg side for his 11th boundary to bring up the 50-run partnership in 91 deliveries for the ninth wicket with Mendis.
In the same over, Mendis played the slog sweep over midwicket for his second boundary to reach 18, his highest score in Test cricket.
With the frontline bowlers struggling to make an impact, Dhoni called on part-timers Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh. Mendis smashed the former's first delivery for a boundary through covers as he dropped short and wide in the 62nd over to add to India's frustration as the pair battled on for an hour after lunch.
It was Yuvraj who made that vital breakthrough with his arm delivery that went straight on after pitching. Mendis went on the backfoot and was struck right in front of the stumps after a good innings of 27 from 75 deliveries, including three boundaries. (264-8, 64.2)
Ojha finished off things quickly in the next over when he caught and bowled last man Chanaka Welegedara got a leading edge for 4.
Samaraweera was left stranded on a fine innings of 78 from 123 deliveries, inclusive of 11 boundaries, as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 269 in 65.3 overs in their second innings.
India won the match, their 100th win in Test cricket, by a thumping margin of an innings and 144 runs to take a deserved 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Sreesanth's comeback was excellent, as he claimed six wickets in the match for total figures of six for 122 and set up India's victory.
Harbhajan finally found some much-needed form, claiming five for 152, in the match while Ojha had a dream debut with impressive figures of four for 73.
Credit for the victory also goes to the Indian batsmen, especially the top three (Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid). Their centuries put Sri Lanka under pressure right from the start and they never really recovered.
It will be difficult for Sri Lanka to bounce back after this crushing loss. Their hunt for a maiden victory on Indian soil still continues.
With a 1-0 lead under their belt, the Indians will be a confident lot heading into the third Test, at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai, from December 2-6.