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Winning a Test against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka is one of the toughest tasks going around, but beating them in a home venue after losing the toss is perhaps the toughest task in international cricket. In April next year, the island will celebrate a decade of never having lost a home Test in which they've won the toss. An awesome stat for them, and a scary one for all opponents.
The table below lists the records of all teams after winning tosses in home games, and none is as imposing as the Sri Lankans. In 19 matches before the ongoing one in Colombo, they'd won 15 and drawn four. Their preferred method has been, as you'd expect, bat first and knock the stuffing out of the opposition - they've done that 11 times. And on six of the seven occasions when they've fielded, the opponents have been Bangladesh - so the move was probably to ensure an early finish to the match. None of the other sides have a record which is as dominant, though Pakistan haven't lost any of ten Tests either. (To see how these teams perform when they lose the toss, click here.)
The last team to achieve the near-impossible feat of losing the toss and winning the match against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka was England, in that acrimonious series in 2001, when they edged past the home team by four wickets at the SSC. On the basis of what has been witnessed in the first two sessions of the current match at the SSC, it can safely be said that MS Dhoni's team won't repeat that feat over the next four days.
|Team||Matches||Win/loss||Draw||W/L ratio||Bat ave||Bowl ave|
|Sri Lanka||19||15/ 0||4||-||50.37||22.79|
|South Africa||24||14/ 7||3||2.00||37.20||29.87|
|New Zealand||21||9/ 5||7||1.80||31.69||30.12|
|West Indies||24||5/ 11||8||0.45||32.85||35.59|
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on TwitterFeeds: S Rajesh
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Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.