Ravichandran Ashwin picked up his 26th five-wicket haul as India dismissed a listless Sri Lanka for 183 and enforced the follow-on by lunch on day three of the second Test here. Sri Lanka, resuming the day at 50 for two, failed to put up any resistance against the Indian spinners to be bowled out in 49.4 overs. With their meek surrender at the SSC, Sri Lanka conceded their highest-ever first innings' lead in Test cricket - 439 runs, more than 419 runs against Pakistan at Galle in 2000. It was also the third highest lead conceded by any opponent against India.
It was surprising to see Ashwin (5-69) not handed the ball straight away, considering he made the ball turn sharply in the final session yesterday.
Instead, Umesh Yadav (1-12) and Ravindra Jadeja (2-84) started proceedings, getting instant results.
Dinesh Chandimal (10) was the first to go, in the fifth over of the day, caught at square leg off Jadeja. In the very next over, Yadav had Kusal Mendis (24) caught at mid-on, striking a double body blow to Sri Lanka's hopes of defiance. It brought Angelo Mathews (26) and Niroshan Dickwella (51) to the crease, and the duo decided to attack the Indian bowling, particularly the spinners.
Together, they hit seven fours and three sixes against Jadeja and Ashwin, who had been introduced into the attack. They put on 53 runs for the fifth wicket taking Lanka past 100 in the 33rd over.
Their 50-partnership came off only 46 balls but this attacking ploy didn't stand for long. Cheteshwar Pujara caught Mathews at leg slip off Ashwin in the 34th over, a superb catch as he dove to his left, and broke the partnership.
It also began Lanka's collapse as they lost their last 6 wickets for 66 runs in 15.4 overs.
Jadeja then bowled Dhananjay de Silva (0) first ball to pick up his 150th wicket in Test cricket. He became the quickest left-arm spinner to achieve this feat, in 32 Tests, and the sixth-quickest among all bowlers.
Among Indian bowlers, only Ashwin (29) has taken fewer Tests to reach 150 wickets.
Meanwhile Dickwella continued to attack and reached his fifth Test half-century off 44 balls. He perished shortly afterwards, bowled off Mohammed Shami (2/13) in the 42nd over, scooping the ball back onto his stumps.
Five balls later, Shami also bowled Rangana Herath (2) with a perfect yorker.
Ashwin returned to clean up Dilruwan Perera (25) with an off-break delivery. Then, injured Nuwan Pradeep (ruled out of action with an injured hamstring for atleast two weeks) came out to bat, but faced only six balls as Ashwin bowled him too to end Lanka's innings in the 50th over.
Ashwin now stands second in the list of most five-wicket hauls for India in Test cricket, overtaking Harbhajan Singh's 25 and behind Anil Kumble's record of 34.
On day one, KL Rahul (57) scored a sixth successive Test half-century on his return to international cricket. India were reduced to 133/3 at one stage, but Pujara and Rahane rescued them by scoring contrasting hundreds.
On day two, R Ashwin (54), Wriddhiman Saha (67) and Ravindra Jadeja (70 not out) scored half-centuries to help India post another 600-plus total.
India lead the three-match series 1-0 after winning the first Test in Galle by 304 runs.