Sri Lanka geared up for 300th Test match-by Rex Clementine
The Mohali Test that gets underway later this week will be a landmark one for Sri Lankan cricket as this is the nation’s 300th Test match. Since gaining Test status 40 years ago, Sri Lanka have gone onto achieve many unique feats over the years. The World Record for most wickets in Test cricket is owned by Muttiah Muralitharan, whose 800 wickets has been untouched for over a decade and it is expected to stand for quite a long time to come. The nation also has produced many fine batsmen. Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, both of whom have scored more than 10,000 Test runs, are two outstanding players produced by the island.
Incidentally, Sri Lanka’s 300th Test match coincides with Indian captain Virat Kohli’s 100th Test as well. Unfortunately, the game will be played behind closed doors due to COVID protocols in Punjab. However, the second Test in Bangalore is open for spectators as regulations in south are much relaxed.
Although the Sri Lankans were whitewashed 3-0 in the T-20s that just finished, the Tests are expected to be a much closer contest with Sri Lanka banking on the experience of Angelo Mathews and Dimuth Karunaratne.
Sri Lanka will miss the services of Ramesh Mendis, who has been ruled out with injury. They will be hoping that Kusal Mendis recovers in time ahead of the series as he will be a key batter for the tourists. Mendis suffered a hamstring strain and was ruled out of the T-20s.
It is a remarkable feat that Sri Lanka recorded their first Test win in just three years after playing their inaugural Test match. For some of world cricket’s power houses, it took much longer than that. While India won their maiden Test match 20 years after playing their first Test, the New Zealanders had to wait for 26 years.
Sri Lanka have also recorded Test match wins in every country except in Australia and India. They are also the only Asian nation to win a Test series in South Africa.
Over these 40 years and 299 Test matches, there have been some memorable games. Recording a series win in Pakistan for the first time in 1995 was one of the best achievements by the team as they came from behind to secure the series after losing the first game.
Sri Lanka’s maiden overseas win in New Zealand in the same year in Napier also comes to mind as one of their best Test matches.
Between July 2001 and March 2002, Sri Lanka won ten Test matches in a row under Sanath Jayasuriya’s captaincy.
A rookie Ajantha Mendis making India’s famous batting line-up comprising Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman eat humble pie in 2008 also stands out. Mendis picked up 26 wickets in that series. He broke a World Record that had stood for more than 50 years claiming the most wickets in a debut series. The record was previous held by Sir Alec Bedser.
Sri Lanka’s 952 for six declared against India at RPS is the world record for most runs in an innings in Tests. At the end of the game, Indian skipper Sachin Tendulkar conceded, ‘I haven’t seen Sir Don Bradman but I have seen Sanath Jayasuriya.’
The 624 run stand between Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara against South Africa at SSC in 2006 is a World Record for any wicket in Tests.
While there have been many historic Tests among the 299 games, Sri Lankan fans will be hoping that their team comes up with a splendid performance in the Test series against India and record their maiden Test win in that country.