Sri Lanka Air Force’s Flagship Cycling Event Starting March 4 – The Island
by Rex Clementine
The Mohali Test which kicks off later this week will be a landmark for Sri Lankan cricket as it is the country’s 300th Test match. Since gaining Testing status 40 years ago, Sri Lanka has achieved many unique feats over the years. The world record for most Test cricket wickets belongs to Muttiah Muralitharan, whose 800 wickets have stood unbroken for over a decade and are expected to last for a long time to come. The nation has also produced many excellent drummers. Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene who both scored over 10,000 Tests are two outstanding players produced by the island.
Incidentally, Sri Lanka’s 300th Test match also coincides with India captain Virat Kohli’s 100th Test. Unfortunately, the match will be played behind closed doors due to COVID protocols in Punjab. However, the second test in Bangalore is open to spectators as regulations in the south are much looser.
Although the Sri Lankans were whitewashed 3-0 in the just-concluded T-20s, the Tests are expected to be a much tighter competition, 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 hope Kusal Mendis recovers in time before the series as he will be a key hitter 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 victory in just three years after playing their first Test match. For some of the world cricketing powerhouses, it took much longer than that. While India won their first Test match 20 years after playing their first Test, New Zealanders had to wait 26 years.
Sri Lanka also recorded Test match wins in every country except Australia and India. They are also the only Asian nation to have won a Test series in South Africa.
In those 40 years and 299 Test matches there have been some memorable matches. Recording a series win in Pakistan for the first time in 1995 was one of the team’s best achievements as they came from behind to secure the series after losing the opener.
Sri Lanka’s first away win in New Zealand the same year at 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 the captaincy of Sanath Jayasuriya.
A rookie Ajantha Mendis part of the famous Indian batting team comprising Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman eat humble pie in 2008 also stands out. Mendis picked up 26 wickets in this series. He broke a world record that had stood for over 50 years by claiming the most wickets in a first series. The record was previously held by Sir Alec Bedser.
Sri Lanka’s 952 for six declared against India at the RPS is the world record for most runs in one inning in Tests. At the end of the match, Indian skipper Sachin Tendulkar conceded: “I didn’t see Sir Don Bradman but I saw 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.
Although there were many historic Tests among the 299 games, Sri Lankan fans are hoping that their team will put in a splendid performance in the Test series against India and register their first Test victory in this country.