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Ashwin, Jadeja wrap up 304-run win against Sri Lanka

R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja took three wickets each as India wrapped up a 304-run win – their biggest runs margin away – halfway through the final session of day four. With finger injuries leaving Rangana Herath and Asela Gunaratne unavailable to bat, India only needed to take eight second-innings wickets. They completed the task in 76.5 overs, with Dimuth Karunaratne and Niroshan Dickwella proving their only real roadblocks.

Karunaratne enhanced his reputation as a specialist in the second innings – where he now averages 42.14 as against 27.32 in the first – with 97, while Dickwella contributed a skittish 67 to a fifth-wicket stand of 101.

Otherwise, India didn’t have to work too hard for wickets on a firmer-than-usual Galle pitch that offered consistent bounce and only occasionally sharp turn, after setting Sri Lanka the task of surviving the best part of two full days or chasing an improbable 550.

The fifth-wicket partnership looked unlikely to last too long when it began, with Dickwella playing a series of risky shots – sweeps off the stumps, inside-out drives, dabs with an open face – while new to the crease. But he survived and eventually settled, and Sri Lanka could breathe a little easier, particularly with Karunaratne looking calm and secure at the other end, taking the singles afforded him by Virat Kohli’s puzzlingly defensive fields and picking up the odd boundary with the square-cut or flick.

But danger was never too far away. As tea approached, Hardik Pandya found both batsmen’s outside edges in a seven-over spell of reverse-swing. Karunaratne’s uncertain jab flew through a mostly vacant cordon – one wide slip and no gully – and Dickwella’s was shelled by Ajinkya Rahane, who flew to his left from gully for a difficult one-hander.

Eventually, both batsmen were out sweeping Ashwin. Dickwella fell in the fifth over after tea, undone by bounce and sending a thin edge to the keeper, and Karunaratne followed him 11.3 overs later, dragging a bottom-edge onto his stumps when he was in sight of a sixth Test hundred. Nuwan Pradeep then fell for a two-ball duck, stretching out and failing to get to the pitch of an Ashwin offbreak that grabbed inside-edge on its way to a diving catch at leg slip. Lahiru Kumara was last to go, top-edging a slog-sweep off Jadeja and holing out to mid-off.

The new-ball bowlers took an early wicket each after India declared early in the morning. Mohammed Shami struck the first blow, going around the wicket, hitting the seam, and getting the ball to bounce disconcertingly at Upul Tharanga. First, the ball seamed away just a touch after angling in, and Tharanga, poking away from his body, edged to second slip, where Kohli shelled a sitter. No worries for Shami. One ball later, he produced another peach, this one coming back in, lifting, and cramping the left-hander for room. All he could do was chop the ball on to his stumps.

Then, in the sixth over of Sri Lanka’s innings, Danushka Gunathilaka fell to a loose shot for the second time on Test debut. Umesh Yadav had Cheteshwar Pujara stationed at square leg, just in front of square. It was either a routine field placement or India had sussed out a tendency to flick in the air. In either case, he failed to keep that shot down against a full ball that swung into his pads, and Pujara took a simple, low catch.

Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis took Sri Lanka to lunch with a half-century stand for the third wicket. They weren’t especially tight with their defence, every now and then playing and missing when they could have left alone. One loose drive from Mendis, off Umesh, resulted in an edge that didn’t quite carry to second slip. That apart, though, both batsmen looked comfortable, Karunaratne strong off his pads and Mendis fluent while driving and cutting.

The spinners, who hadn’t yet settled in their 10 overs before lunch, began finding more turn and bounce after the break. In the seventh over after the break, a tendency to play away from his body at Jadeja consumed Mendis. Having just punched Jadeja to cover off the back foot, he tried the same shot off the next ball. This one, though, was fired in quicker, and bounced higher to take the edge.

Three-and-a-half-overs later, Angelo Mathews fell to an ill-advised shot, jumping out and looking to hit over mid-on. To give the bowler credit, though, Jadeja beat the batsman in the air, and found sharp turn. Nowhere near the pitch, Mathews sent a leading edge ballooning to backward point.

India declared 6.3 overs into the morning, having clattered 51 in that time, with Virat Kohli, who resumed on 76, bringing up his 17th Test hundred and 10th as captain. Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane hit only two fours and a six in that time, but scored off all but seven balls they faced, against Sri Lanka’s deep-set fields. (Courtesy ESPN Cricinfo)

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