With Dhoni opting out, the visiting side has its task cut out

Colombo: Indian cricket team, led by Anil Kumble, arrived here on Tuesday to play a three-Test series against Sri Lanka starting July 23.

The Indians will start their campaign with a three-day practice match against Sri Lanka Board XI from Friday.

They play their first Test in Colombo from July 23. The Test series would be followed by a five-match ODI series.

One-day and Twenty20 team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has opted out of this series, citing fatigue caused by non-stop cricket. — PTI

Sports Reporter from Chennai adds:

India has played 12 Tests in Sri Lanka, winning two, losing three and drawing seven. The first-ever series played between the two in the island nation (1985-86) saw a 1-0 series win by the Lankans. After a hard-fought draw in the first Test, the Indians failed to replicate the effort in the second. Kapil Dev’s 78 in the fourth innings only delayed the inevitable as Sri Lanka won its first-ever Test match, by a comfortable 149 runs. Rumesh Ratnayake finished with match figures of nine for 125. Dogged resistance by Roy Dias and Duleep Mendis saved the Lankans the final Test.

Less demanding

India’s second Test tour of Sri Lanka in 1993 proved less demanding, with the visiting side registering its first overseas victory since the 1986 England series. After very little play was possible in the first Test, good contributions by Manoj Prabhakar, Navjot Sidhu and Vinod Kambli set Sri Lanka 472 for a victory in the second. Aravinda de Silva’s show of defiance couldn’t last the distance, as the Lankan innings folded at 236. A drawn final Test ended the series often marred by umpiring controversies, in India’s favour.

Massive scores were a feature of the 1997 two-Test tour. In response to India’s 537 for eight declared at Colombo, Sri Lanka managed a mammoth 952 for six declared, which was the highest-ever innings total in Tests. Sanath Jayasuriya made 340, the first triple hundred by a Sri Lankan, while Roshan Mahanama scored a double hundred.

The Test ended in a draw, and set the trend for the second match, which also yielded no result.

The 1998-99 Asian Test Championship match in Colombo was a drawn one.

Handicap

Sachin Tendulkar’s unavailability handicapped India for the 2001 tour. Dilhara Fernando and Muttiah Muralitharan did their bit in the first and second innings respectively, to restrict the Indians and enable the ten-wicket win for their side.

India’s performance improved in the second Test at Kandy. Sourav Ganguly’s first half century in 13 Tests (he made an unbeaten 98 in the fourth innings) levelled the series.

There was little charity from the Lankans in the deciding Test. Muralitharan ran through the Indian batting line-up with figures of eight for 87 in the first innings. Thereafter, the Sri Lankan batsmen offered no respite, with four making centuries. India suffered an innings defeat and lost the series 1-2.

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