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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

India In Sri Lanka - Test Match History 1985 to 2015


This was India's first visit to Sri Lanka almost four years after the hosts got Test status. Sri Lanka, led by Duleep Mendis, were yet to register a Test victory and not many gave them a chance against the Indians.

In the the first Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo, Kapil Dev's decision to bat first after winning the toss backfired as the Lankan seam attack led by Ashantha de Mel, reduced India to 65/5. Sunil Gavaskar, batting in the middle-order, scored a painstakingly slow half-century, while healthy contribution from the lower order of Kapil Dev (36), Sadanand Viswanath (20) and Chetan Sharma (38) helped India cross the 200-run mark to post 218 in the first innings.

Chetan Sharma gave India three quick breakthroughs but maiden Test centuries by Ranjan Madugalle (103) and Arjuna Ranatunga (111) and half-century by captain Mendis (51) 347 to take a lead in excess of 100 runs. India struggled in the second innings too but tropical rains meant the hosts lost crucial time in the match to go for a result. A half-century by opener Lalchand Rajput (61) and a persevering knock of 98 by Dilip Vengsarkar helped India set the Lankans a target 123 for victory in around 10 overs. Sri Lanka in their hunt for a maiden Test win gave it their all, but eventually had to settle for a draw.

But the impressive Lankans didn't have to wait too long for their maiden Test win as it came in the second Test of the series at the Sarvanamuttu stadium in Colombo. Sri Lanka's decision to bat first was vindicated with most of the top order batsmen getting among the runs, highlighted by opener Amal de Silva's century (111) and an impressive knock of 95 by Roy Dias. The Indian batsmen struggled again and despite half-centuries by Kris Srikkanth (64), Sunil Gavaskar (52) and Mohinder Amarnath (60). ended up scoring only 244. Sri Lanka got a lead of 141 runs, thanks to the efforts of pacemen Rumesh Ratnayake (4/76) and Saliya Ahangama (3/59).

Another commanding batting display from the hosts allowed them to declare their second innings at 206/3, setting the visitors a daunting target of 348 runs to win the match and giving themselves enough time to bowl out the Indians. Rumesh Ratnayake was yet again the star as he picked up a five for to end the match with a tally of 9 wickets. India were bowled out for 198 and lost the match by a massive 149 runs

India needed to respond in the last Test at Kandy but the batsmen failed yet again, with Saliya Ahangama picking up a five-wicket haul. Only Dilip Vengsarkar scored a half-century for the visitors as India folded for 249. Young left-arm spinner Maninder Singh though gave India hope as his four-wicket haul meant thehosts were bowled out for 198.

An unbeaten 116 by Mohinder Amarnath and a controlled innings of 81 at the top of the order by Ravi Shastri meant India set Sri Lanka a big target of 377 runs. The Lankans knew they had to bat out the rest of the match to draw the final Test and win their maiden series, but the hosts were given an early scare as Kapil Dev and Chetan Sharma reduced them to 34/3. That brought captain Duleep Mendis and the talented Roy Dias in the middle and the duo shared a partnership in excess of 200 runs to put paid to India's hopes of levelling the series. Mendis was dismissed for 124 while Dias stayed unbeaten on 106 as the Lankans managed to draw the match to register their maiden series win.


India visited Sri Lanka eight years later under the leadership of Mohammad Azharuddin in 1993, a time when the Lankans under Arjuna Ranatunga were making holistic progress in all formats of the game and slowly becoming a powerful cricketing nation. The first Test at Kandy was washed away by torrential rains with just 12 overs bowled on the first day. Kapil Dev equalled Sunil Gavaskar's record of most Test appearances by playing his 125th Test.

In the second Test as SSC, Colombo, India won the toss and batted first. The visitors put up 366 runs on the board in their first essay, thanks mainly to a century by young sensation Vinod Kambli (125) and a knock 82 by opener Navjot Singh Sidhu. Anil Kumble's five-wicket haul helped India bowl the Lankans out for 254 to get a lead in excess of 100 runs. A 171-run opening stand between Manoj Prabhakar (95) and Navjot Singh Sidhu (104) put India inthe driver's seat. An unbeaten century (104) by Sachin Tnedulkar further helped the visitors' cause as they set Sri Lanka an improbable target of 472 runs to win the match. Three wickets each by Prabhakar and Kumble meant the Lankans were bowled out for 236.

 India won their first Test in Sri Lanka by an astounding margin of 235 runs 

The third Test saw a masterful knock of 148 by the talented Aravinda de Silve which helped the Lankans post 351 in their first innings. The Indians though stuck into the toothless Lankan attack on a placid track at the Sarvanamuttu stadium in Colombo to post 445 runs in the first too all but kill off the contest. Vinod Kambli (120) scored yet another attractive century to lead the batting charts for India.

Sri Lanka, knowing that pushing for a series levelling victory was impossible, batted out the rest of the match with opener Roshan Mahanama scoring 152 runs as the match ended in a draw. India winning the series 1-0.


India went to Sri Lanka for a two-match series in 1997, a time when one-day cricket was the flavour of the season and Sri Lanka were its new masters after winning the World Cup a year before. The first Test, played on a dead pitch at the Premadasa stadium in Colombo, saw several records tumble. India declared their first innings on 537/8 with Navjot Sidhu (111), Sachin Tendulkar (143) and Mohammad Azharuddin (126) helping themselves to respective centuries.

What followed was mayhem as the duo of Sanath Jayasuriya (340) and Roshan Mahanama (225) put on 576 runs in what was then the highest partnership for any wicket in Test cricket. Jayasuriya looked all set to beat Brian Lara's record of the highest individual score until he was dismissed by Rajesh Chauhan.

Sri Lanka posted the highest ever team total in Test history of 952/6 declared as the match was drawn.

The second Test was also a run fest with as many as six centuries being scored. Sri Lanka batted first at the SSC in Colombo and posted 332 in the first innings, thanks mainly to yet another masterful century by Aravinda de Silva (146). Paceman Debasis Mohanty picked up four wickets for India. The visitors responded by posting 375 runs courtesy centuries by Sachin Tendulkar (139) and Sourav Ganguly (147).

Sanath Jayasuriya's 199 at the top of the order and another Aravinda de Silva ton (120) helped Sri Lanka post 415/7 in the second innings. India were set a target of 373 runs to win the match. Mohammad Azharuddin's century gave India a fighting chance but eventually the match was drawn.


The one-off Test at the SSC in Colombo was drawn with both sides scoring bagful of runs. Centuries by Sadagopan Ramesh (143) and Rahul Dravid (107) helped India post a big total of 518 runs on the board.

Young Mahela Jayawardene single-handedly kept India at bay with fantastic innings of 242 runs off 465 deliveries. His mammoth effort helped the Lankans post 485 runs. India's second innings was a mere formality as the match was already headed towards a draw


A young Indian team visited Sri Lanka in August 2001, just months after their landmark victory over the mighty Australians. The goal was simple, start winning series outside India. But the first Test match at Galle showed that this Indian team was far from being an accomplished unit. An inspired spell of fast bowling by Dilhara Fernando had the visitors on the mat after a bright start by the top order. Fernando returned with figures of 5/42 and the wily Muralitharan also chipped in with three wickets as India folded for 187 in the first innings. The hosts were put in the driver's seat with Sanath Jayasuriya (111) and a young Kumar Sangakkara (105) hitting belligerent tons, Sri Lanka took a 175-run first innings lead. The Indians were equally dismal in the second innings as they were bowled out for 180, with Muralitharan picking up a 5 for, the Lankans won the match by 10 wickets.

Sourav Ganguly's team needed to turn things around in the second Test at Kandy and they did exactly what the doctor had prescribed. Mahela Jayawardene lit up the opening day with his stylish strokeplay, but his 104 was the only saving grace as the Indian bowlers hunted in a pack to bowl the hosts out for 274. India needed a strong reply but the batsmen failed to deliver yet again, opener Sadagopan Ramesh top scored with 47 while a lower order cameo from Harbhajan Singh (44), meant the visitors limped to a total of 232. Chaminda Vaas was the destroyer-in-chief with a four-wicket haul. Zaheer Khan (4/76) and Venkatesh Prasad (5/72) produced some great seam bowling in tandem to bowl the Lankans out for 221 in the second innings, leaving the visitors with a challenging target of 264 runs to win the match. The openers departed early, but the duo of Rahul Dravid (75) and Sourav Ganguly (98*) stitched together a 91-run stand to take India close to the target. The Indian captain was stranded at 98 but he had done the job for his team.

The jamboree moved to Colombo for the all important decider and it was here that Muralitharan took centre stage. The openers gave India a great start once again but the rest of the batting line up could not stand in front of the off-spinner's wizardry as he picked up 8 wickets to skittle the visitors out for 234. The Sri Lankan batsmen then got stuck into the Indian bowling with as many as four batsmen scoring centuries. Marvan Attapattu (108), Mahela Jayawardene (139), Hashan Tillakaratne (136*) and Thilan Samaraweera (103*), on debut, punished the Indian bowlers as Sri Lanka racked up a humongous 610 in their first essay. Muralitharan completed his ten-wicket match haul by picking up 3 in the second innings as India were bowled out for 299 to hand over the series to the Lankans.


India had a chance to get the better of the Lankans on their soil in 2008 as this was a team on the ascendance. But the spin duo of Muralitharan and the young mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis put paid to those plans. The first Test saw the hosts pile up 600 runs on the board in the first innings. Opener Malinda Warnapura (115), skipper Mahela Jayawardene (136), Thilan Samaraweera (127) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (125) made life miserable for the Indian bowlers. It went from bad to worse for the Anil Kumble-led team as Muralitharan (5/84) and Mendis (4/72) bowled the visitors out for 223. The off spinner picked up 6 more in the second innings to complete yet another 10-wicket match haul while the debutant Mendis picked up four more to end his maiden Test with 8 wickets as India were bowled out for 138 in the second innings to lose the match by an innings and 239 runs.

The second Test in Galle saw a masterpiece from the blade of Virender Sehwag. The opening duo of Sehwag and Gautam Gambir (56) put together 167 runs for the first wicket, but that was followed by a collapse as wickets kept falling at regular intervals. Sehwag though was unperturbed by what was happening at the other end as he scored 201 runs in just 231 deliveries, his hand and eye co-ordination helping him read the mysterious Mnedis off the pitch. Sehwag's efforts helped India put up 329 on the board, but Mendis was in the business with a six-wicket haul. Harbhajan Singh returned the favour by picking up 6 wickets as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 294 to hand the visitors a slender, but important, lead. Gambhir (74) and Sehwag (50) did the bulk of the scoring again as India were bowled out for 269 in the second innings with Mendis completing a 10-wicket haul. The hosts were set a daunting target to win the series but were bowled out for 136 with Harbhajan completing his own 10-wicket haul. India tied the series with a resounding 170-run win.

India's hopes of winning the decider were given a good start as Gambhir scored a defiant 74 at the top of the order, but Mendis picked up yet another 5-wicket haul to help the Lankans bowl India out for 249. Kumar Sangakkara produced special knock under pressure to give the hosts the edge, his fighting 144 giving the Lankans a healthy first innings lead of 147 runs. India needed a solid performance from its batsmen in the second innings but the Muralitharan-Mendis duo picked up 6 wickets among themselves to bowl the visitors out for 268. Sri Lanka chased down the target of little over hundred runs with ease to win the match by 8 wickets and along with that won their second consecutive series at home against India.


The legendary Muttiah Muralitharan was ready to make his final bow for Sri Lanka in a Test match. The wizard had announced before the start of the series that he would bring the curtains down onhis prolific career at the end of the first Test at Galle and an entire nation waited with bated breath to see whether their star bowler would be able to pick up his 800th Test wicket or not. The Test started with the Lankans piling up a huge 520/8 in the first innings, thanks mainly to twin centuries by Tharanga Paranavitana (111) and captain Kumar Sangakkara (103). Virender Sehwag played the way only he could as he stroked his way to a 118-ball 109, but apart from that only Yuvraj Singh managed to score a half-century as India were bundled out for 276 runs. Muralitharan, who needed 8 wickets in his last Test to reach the magical landmark of becoming the first bowler to take 800 Test wickets was once again the wrecker-in-chief, picking up the last of his 67 5-wicket hauls in Test cricket. India followed on and Sachin Tendulkar (84) and VVS Laxman (69) tried their best to help the visitors avoid an innings defeat but that wasn't to be. In true fairytale-style, Muralitharan picked up the last wicket of Pragyan Ojha to reach Mount. 800 as Sri Lanka recorded a huge win, which was a fitting tribute to the legend's career.

Life without Muralitharan started for Sri Lanka with a draw at Colombo. The hosts batted first in what was to be a run-fest and scored 642 runs ona flat deck. Paranavitana (100) scored his second century of the series, and so did captain Kumar Sangakkara (219), who went on to convert it into a double century. Mhela Jayawardene further improved his already glorious record agains India by piling up 174 runs. India's reply was colossal as they put up their highest Test total away from home of 707 runs. Sachin Tendulkar (203) reminded the Lankans of his genius with a fine double century while Suresh Raina (120) left his imprints on the match by scoring a century on debut. Sri Lanka's second innings was a formality as both teams played out a draw on Lankan soil after a gap of 7 straight outings which had a result.

India needed to win the decider to level the series but the hosts were in no mood to let that happen. An unbeaten century (137) by Thilan Samaraweera helped the Lankans score a formidable 425. India's response was led by that man again, Virender Sehwag's 109 off 105 not only put India back in the match, it also helped the visitors save much needed time in order to force a result inthe game. The middle and lower order made important contributions as India managed to score 436 to take a slender lead. India needed to bowl Sri Lanka out early to stand a chance to chase down the target on the last day and they did that by reducing the hosts to 125/8. But a century stand between Samaraweera (83) and Mendis (78) frustrated the Indians. The hosts were finally bowled out for 267, India needing 257 to win the match on the final day

Off-spinner Suraj Randiv pegged India back by picking up a five-wicket haul but a heroic century by VVS Laxman (103*) paved the way for a series leveliing victory. Sachin Tendulkar (54) and Suresh Raina (41*) played their part in a memorable Indian win.


India's visit to the Emerald Isles in 2015 was a momentous one as it ws the first full-fledged away tour under the leadership of new captain Virat Kohli. But the series started poorly for the visitors as they were beaten by 63 runs at Galle despite taking a huge first innings lead. A 6-wicket haul by Ravichandran Ashwin helped India bowl the Lankans out for 183. India took a 192-run first innings lead as they posted 375 runs on the board, thanks mainly to centuries by Shikhar Dhawan (134) and captain Virat Kohli (103). Sri Lanka though were not ready to bow out without a fight and it was a classy unbeaten century by Dinesh Chandimal (162) in just 169 deliveries, which helped the hosts set up a target of 176 runs. India were expected to cruise to victory, but that wasn't to be as Rangana Herath picked up 7 second innings wickets to skittle the visitors out for 112 in what was one of the greatest comeback wins on Sri Lankan soil.

India needed to strike back in the second Test and they did just that at the P Sara Oval in Colombo. Buoyed by a KL Rahul century (108) at the top of the order and crucial contributions by Virat Kohli (78), Rohit Sharma (79) and Wriddhiman Saha (56), the hosts scored 393 after batting first. A century (102) by captain Angelo Mathews was the cornerstone of the Lankan innings, as they had to deal with an onslaught fromthe Indian spinners. Amit Mishra's 4-wicket haul helping the visitors stop the hosts at 306. India consolidated its position by scoring 325 in the second innings. Opener Murali Vijay's patient knock of 82 and a high quality century (126) by Ajinkya Rahane helped the visitors set a big target for the hosts. Sri Lanka were never in the chase as they losing wickets, Ashwin's five-wicket haul helping Kohli's men wrap up the match by a whopping 278 runs and level the series.

India batted first in the decider at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo and their first innings was guided by an unbeaten century from the bat of Cheteshwar Pujara (145*), who was making his comeback into the team as an opener. Pujara's who had to spend considerable time out on the bench despite being India's best Test batsman responded in style with a knock that changed the fortunes of Indian cricket as the hosts scored 312 in their first essay. In one of his rare superlative displays in a long Test career, Ishant Sharma breathed new life in India's campaign as his five-wicket haul helped dismiss the hosts for 201. Sri Lanka came back hard by taking out India top order early in the second innings but the middle and lower order responded to the adversity and did enough to help India set up a target in excess of 350 runs for the hosts. Ishant returned to pick up three more wickets while Ashwin picked up four in the second innings. Angelo Mathews (110) and Kusal Mendis (70) fought valiantly but eventually it was Virat Kohli and his boys who rejoiced after winning the final Test by 117 runs. 



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