This was Azharuddin's first win in seven Tests as captain, and he began by winning the toss on a pitch viewed with justified suspicion. With Shastri playing circumspectly early on, when the ball kept low, the first-wicket stand was dominated by Prabhakar, and Manjrekar helped to build on the solid start, batting with assurance and elegance despite the conditions. In the last session, however, India slid from 208 for three to 220 for six. There were poor shots from Azharuddin, Shastri and Kapil Dev, but it was also the well-directed off-spin of Warnaweera and Madurasinghe which wrested the initiative for Sri Lanka. Shastri batted for more than five and a quarter hours and faced 224 balls for his 88, which included five fours and two sixes. Another vital innings, in worsening conditions the next day, came from More, who added 36 with Raju in a brave stand which saw Raju, on his return to Test cricket, the recipient of over-frequent bouncers from Labrooy.
Sri Lanka's joy at keeping India's total under 300 was short-lived, for the appearance of Raju, after sixteen overs, changed the complexion of the match. He spun out the middle order with five wickets for just 2 runs in 39 balls, and the visitors began the third morning needing 14 to avoid the follow-on with two wickets in hand. Their difficulties increased when a deceptively lazy Kapil Dev, at long-off, sent his throw humming over the non-striker's wicket into the hands of Azharuddin to run out Madurasinghe. Five runs later Raju bowled Warnaweera off the inside edge, to return figures of six for 12 from 17.5 overs and dismiss Sri Lanka for 82. Gurusinha was left high and dry after batting for 181 minutes and facing 159 balls.
He was soon in again, but this time he hooked his second ball in the air. Only Mahanama's patience, which brought him 48 runs from 213 deliveries, held Sri Lanka's second innings together. As the pitch improved, Ranatunga looked to repair the reputation of his team's batting, but hopes of making India bat again were effectively dashed when Raju beat him in the air to set up a catch at mid-wicket. The only balm for the visitors was the 60-run partnership between Tillekeratne and Madurasinghe, a ninth-wicket record for Sri Lanka, which denied India for two hours. Tillekeratne completed his first Test fifty, with eight fours, before he was last out, driving a head-high catch to mid-on to give Kapil Dev his 376th Test wicket.
Man of the Match: S. L. V. Raju.
Close of play: First day, India 220-6 ( S. R. Tendulkar 7*, K. S. More 0*); Second day, Sri Lanka 75-8 ( A. P. Gurusinha 47*, A. W. R. Madurasinghe 0*); Third day, Sri Lanka 125-5 ( A. Ranatunga 36*, H. P. Tillekeratne 11*).