At Kandy, September 14, 15, 16, 18, 19. Drawn. A magnificent rearguard action by Sri Lanka's two most accomplished batsmen, Mendis and Dias, kept India at bay, and by forcing the draw Sri Lanka sealed their first-ever series win. There had been a qualitative improvement in India's batting which, however, was not so apparent in their first innings; and on a good batting pitch, the Indians had bowled more purposefully than they had in the rest of the series.
With a forceful contribution from Srikkanth, India held the upper hand at the close of the third day (149 for one) and were in a strong position to set themselves a deadline for the declaration. Amarnath anchored the middle order with his ninth Test century and Azharuddin, after a disappointing series, ran into late form to enable India to give their bowlers a full eight hours in which to bowl out the opposition. They made a good start as Sri Lanka lost three wickets cheaply in the last session of the penultimate day, Kapil Dev becoming India's leading wicket-taker (267) when Silva was caught behind. However, Sri Lanka's captain and vice-captain swung the game away from India with their amazing counter-attack, and by lunch on the final day there was even a chance that Sri Lanka might score an improbable victory. The 216-run stand was broken just before the tea interval by a run-out and the seamers returned in the hope of running through the late middle order. Dias (seventeen 4's) batted for 312 minutes; Mendis (two 6s, eleven 4s) for 318 minutes.
Time, however, was no longer on India's side, and in the mandatory overs' period De Silva and De Mel held on with a degree of skill and luck. The umpires called off play for bad light twenty minutes before the scheduled close and Sri Lanka were left the winners of the series.