It took a herculean effort, but India [ Images ] eventually surpassed Sri Lanka's [ Images ] mammoth first innings total with resolute batting on the fourth day of the second Test at the SSC Ground at Colombo on Thursday.
However, with just a day's play left, the eventual result of the ongoing Test is anybody's guess.
That essentially means the home team will head for the third and final Test with the 1-0 lead, having won the opening Test at Galle - intact.
And India can no longer win the series. It can, at the most, share the honours.
At close of play on the penultimate day (after 198 overs), the visitors had amassed 669 for nine, a lead of 27 runs.
It is India's highest ever total in Sri Lanka, surpassing the 537 for eight declared at the Premadasa stadium in 1997.
It is also the third highest total ever on Sri Lankan soil, the home team boasting the top two scores -- 952 for six against India at the Premadasa in 1957 and 756 for five against South Africa [ Images ] in 2006.
And it also became the highest score made by a visiting team on Sri Lankan soil - surpassing Pakistan's 600 for eight (declared) at Galle in 2008.
The highlight of the day though was yet another masterclass by Sachin Tendulkar [ Images ]. He scored 203.
The Master Blaster's fifth double hundred was inclusive of 23 hits to the fence and a huge one over it.
It was only the fourth instance -- after Stephen Fleming [ Images ] (274 at PSS), Brian Lara [ Images ] (221 at SSC) and Virender Sehwag [ Images ] (201 at Galle) -- of a foreign player scoring a double hundred on Sri Lankan soil.
More importanly, it was Tendulkar's partnerships - 68 with VVS Laxman [ Images ] (fourth wicket), 256 with Suresh Raina [ Images ] (fifth wicket) and 95 with MS Dhoni [ Images ] (sixth wicket) - that helped the visitors build on the solid foundation given by Virender Sehwag and Murali Vijay [ Images ] a day earlier.
Raina pitched in with an impressive 120 on his Test debut, becoming just the ninth Indian to achieve the feat in the first innings.
Ajantha Mendis [ Images ] was Sri Lanka's most successful bowler with figures of four for 157.
However, bluntly put, the home team's bowling attack was akin to that of the visitors, lacking the bite and seemingly innocuous.
Morning session: (95 runs, 27 overs, no wickets)
The day began with Suraj Randiv [ Images ] bowling a maiden over first up. However, in the spinner's second over, the Indian batsmen cut loose, taking as many as 15 runs.
Tendulkar hit the first ball to the fence and Raina smashed the last over the long-off boundary for maximum.
The latter shot ensured the ongoing partnership became India's best fifth-wicket stand against Sri Lanka, overtaking Tendulkar's 150-run stand with Saurav Ganguly [ Images ] at the same venue in 1997.
The visitors soon passed the 400-run mark. And then Tendulkar almost hit a Dilhara Fernando delivery staright to Mahela Jayawardene [ Images ] at first slip.
Raina, meanwhile, continued his onslaught, first driving Fernando between extra cover and mid-off to the fence and then smashing Randiv over midwicket for yet another maximum.
It did not take him long to reach the three-figure mark, a boundary off Dammika Prasad not only ensuring him his landmark but also pushing the fifth-wicket stand beyond the 200-run mark.
A few overs later, Tendulkar swept Mendis over midwicket for a boundary that enabled him surpass the 150-run mark, his highest score against Sri Lanka.
It also saw him equal Lara's record of most 150-plus scores -- both have 19.
And India had eventually avoided the follow-on.
Earlier, on Wednesday, the visitors amassed 382 for four by close of play (after 108 overs) on the third day, still 260 runs adrift of the home side's total, having virtually made sure that they would not follow-on like in the opening Test.
Tendulkar (108 not out) and Raina (66 not out) combined well for an unbeaten fifth-wicket partnership that, besides yielding 141 valuable runs, gave the Indian innings the impetus it so desperately needed after the loss of a few quick wickets.
In the process, the 'Master Blaster' registered his 48th Test hundred, his first in Sri Lanka in 11 years, while Raina became the 22nd Indian to score a half century on Test debut.
Post-lunch session: (112 runs, 25 overs, one wicket)
India consolidated their position in the second session, but, in the process, lost the wicket of Raina (120).
The 23-year-old left-hander hit straight to Kumar Sangakkara [ Images ] at short midwicket to give Mendis his third wicket off the innings.
Raina's 228-ball knock was inclusive of 12 hits to the fence and two over it; he was also involved in a 256-run fifth wicket partnership with Tendulkar -- a record for India against Sri Lanka.
Tendulkar continued with his aggressive ways though, being particularly severe on Fernando and Randiv.
And captain MS Dhoni was more than happy to play a supporting role, even if that came at almost a run-a-ball.
The 50-run partnership for the sixth wicket came in quick time, 62 balls to be precise.
Tendulkar's double ton came two overs before tea.
In this innings, Tendulkar had reached the 50-run mark with a six and his 100 and 150 with a boundary each. However, he got to his double with a couple off Mendis.
In the final over before the break, Dhoni reached his 18th Test fifty.
Post-tea session: (80 runs, 38 overs, four wickets)
This was the most evenly balanced session of the day. If the visitors ensured enough runs to help them take a slender lead, it was also a productive session for the home side in terms of wickets.
Harbhajan Singh [ Images ] (0) survived just three balls before hitting straight to Sangakkara at midwicket, giving Dilshan his second wicket in the over.
Dhoni (76) continued to help India inch closer to the Lankan total. And in Abhimanyu Mithun [ Images ] (41), he found a partner willing to help him in his endeavour.
The duo put on a 51-run partnership for the eighth wicket and saw India go past the home team's mammoth first innings score.
Soon after India had taken the lead, Dilshan struck again, catching Dhoni off his own bowling to gift hiimself a third wicket.
Considering Dhoni was well-settled, it was a soft dismissal. The India captain's 138-ball knock was inclusive of seven hits to the fence.
Mithun continued to impress with the bat though. However, he was unfortunate to miss out on a maiden Test fifty when he was cleaned up by Mendis.