India 390 for 5 (Kohli 166*, Gill 116, Rajitha 2-81, Kumara 2-87) beat Sri Lanka 97 (Siraj 4-32, Kuldeep 2-16) by 317 runs
The change in conditions was dramatic all right, but the difference in quality of the two sides was no less stark. India chose to bat first to challenge themselves to set an above-par total and then defend it in dewy conditions. As it turned out, the match hardly lasted long enough for dew to become a factor, with Sri Lanka bowled out in 22 overs.
The win, though, was set up with the bat. Rohit Sharma and Gill gave India the quick start they needed before Kohli took over. Gill fell for 116 off 97 in the 34th over; Kohli scored an unbeaten 166 off 110 balls. These were two contrasting centuries. If the two innings had a pulse, Gill’s resembled that of a cricketer: explosive power interspersed with near-inactivity. Kohli’s was that of a mid-distance runner: regular, rhythmic mid-to-high heartbeat maintained efficiently without any huffing and puffing. In the home stretch, he turned into a sprinter.
India scored only one run off the bat in their first three overs, which suggested the batters needed to get used to a slow surface, but once they got going, they went hard. The lack of depth in the Sri Lanka bowling showed, which meant the batters could afford to not go hard against Wanindu Hasaranga.
Gill and Rohit scored in spurts. After the slow start, Gill followed a Rohit six with four consecutive fours in the sixth over, bowled by Lahiru Kumara. A brief lull was then broken with two sixes and a four from Rohit in the 10th over, bowled by Kasun Rajitha.
Then five overs went without a boundary immediately after the powerplay. Rohit then tried to manufacture one by pulling a shortish ball in the air in the 16th, and was caught at deep backward square leg, done in by the lack of pace and bounce in the pitch.
Kohli walked in, and cover-drove the second ball he faced for four. In his second over at the wicket, Kohli delivered a one-two to legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay, cover-driving him for four before going back to late-cut the next ball, which was predictably flatter.
Gill, who had gone from 5 off 14 to 35 off 28 to 52 off 55, then opened up with a short-arm slog-swept six off Vandersay. He took 34 balls to get the 48 runs needed for his hundred while Kohli settled into an upgraded version of the already efficient anchor he was: scoring at more than a run a ball without taking any risks.
After he got to his hundred, Gill tried to switch into a higher gear in the last nine overs of the second powerplay, and hit Vandersay for three fours in the 32nd before being defeated by the low bounce of a slower ball from Rajitha in the 33rd.
Kohli, on a risk-free 58 off 56 then, slowly pushed himself ever so slightly to reach 82 off 76 by the end of the 40th over. That the pitch had become even slower and more difficult to score off was apparent in the way Shreyas Iyer struggled for timing.
In the last 10 overs, Sri Lanka’s fielding fell to pieces. It began with Vandersay running from long-on and getting lobbed by a Kohli mishit. Kohli acknowledged his luck there, which was also acknowledgement of the wretched luck he has had over the last three years. Then there was an ugly collision between Ashen Bandara and Vandersay as they converged on a ground shot from Kohli.
Kohli more than doubled his score in the last 10 overs, scoring 84 off the last 34 balls he faced without much contribution from the other end. India scored 116 from the last 10.
Bandara was going to miss the chase with his injury, and Vandersay availed a concussion substitute in Dunith Wellagagae. One batter short, Sri Lanka’s task was always going to be tough, but the red-hot Siraj made it impossible.
Siraj has been using the outswinger more these days while the ball is still swinging, and has become less reliant on his favourite toy, the wobble-seam inducker. As it turned out, the ball kept swinging. One wide slip took a catch, then a second slip came in, then a third, and it suddenly looked like India were pushing for a Test win on the last evening.
Avishka Fernando and Kusal Mendis fell to the classic outswinger, Nuwanidu Fernando inside-edged a wide outswinger, and Hasaranga got the wobble-seam delivery that seamed in to hit the top of off.
Shami looked no less dangerous, and the pressure created resulted in two soft dismissals against him. Kuldeep bowled Dasun Shanaka through the gate, and Siraj ran out the striker Karunaratne with a throw in his follow-through.
In the end, India stopped trying to get the last wicket from the other end to let Siraj go for a five-wicket haul. Eventually he got an lbw decision in his favour with the last ball of his allotment of 10, but Rajitha had inside-edged it, and reviewed successfully. The last wicket ended up adding 22 before Kuldeep ended the match with the wicket of Kumara.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo