India thumped Sri Lanka by an innings and 144 runs on the fourth day of the second cricket Test in Kanpur on Friday to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
It was the 100th Test victory for India and the biggest against Sri Lanka, bettering the previous win by an innings and 119 runs achieved way back in 1994.
Sri Lanka, tottering at 206-8 by lunch in their follow on, lost their remaining two wickets late into the second session to be bowled out for 269 at the Green Park stadium.
Thilan Samaraweera remained unbeaten on a defiant 78 off 213 balls after sharing a 73-run partnership with Ajantha Mendis (27) to frustrate the Indians.
But it was India who dominated Sri Lanka right through the match, piling on 642 in their first innings before bowling out the visitors for 229 to take a huge 413-run lead.
”It was a very good wicket. But it got slower and slower and made it a bit difficult to bat on,” said Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara.
”It was a great first innings by India and a poor one from us, in fact that decided the match. We needed good partnerships but loose shots here and there cost us dearly.
”We have to be mentally strong to come back in Mumbai. We need to create chances early and take them.”
India were indebted to Gautam Gambhir (167), Rahul Dravid (144) and Virender Sehwag (131) whose big knocks gave the bowlers a huge cushion of runs.
The Test would be especially memorable for Dravid, who hit his 28th Test century and became the fourth highest scorer with 11 267 runs after surpassing retired Australian captain Allan Border (11 174).
The batsman also moved one place up to be ninth in the list of all-time century makers, overtaking Border and Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene, who both have 27 centuries against their names.
Paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, named man of the match, chose his comeback Test to resurrect his sagging career, picking up 5-75 in the first innings and bettering that by one more wicket in the second to finish with 6-122.
He had played his last Test at the same venue against South Africa in April last year.
”It is a moment of pride for me and the whole team to be a part of this 100th win,” Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.
”It was important that we got that many runs on the first day. The changes in the side brought in some fresh legs, Sreesanth was fantastic and he used the reverse swing very effectively.
”It was important to win this big and gain the momentum.”
It was always going to be an uphill task for the Sri Lankans, who started the day at 57-4, trailing India by 356 runs on the first innings.
Left-arm Indian paceman Zaheer Khan was the first to strike when he tempted Angelo Mathews (15) into a pull shot after the batsman had hit him for three fours in a row.
The ball took the top edge of Mathew’s bat and Dravid, fielding at gully, dived to his right to take a fine catch.
Samaraweera waged a grim fightback, putting on 61 runs in the company of Prasanna Jayawardene, who scored 154 in the drawn first Test at Ahmedabad.
But he ran out of partners with spinners Harbhajan Singh (3-98) and Pragyan Ojha (2-36) combining to send back Prasanna (29), Rangana Herath (13) and Muttiah Muralitharan.
Muralitharan provided brief entertainment with three fours and two sixes in his knock of 29, before being bowled by debutant left-arm spinner Ojha.
The third and final Test begins in Mumbai on December 2. — AFP