Sri Lanka v India, 3rd Test, PSS, Colombo August 7, 2008

Batting first the favoured approach

A statistical preview to the third and final Test between India and Sri Lanka in Colombo

Muttiah Muralitharan's 47 wickets at 23 at the P Sara are not so impressive when compared to his records at other Sri Lankan venues © AFP

  • A win for India at the P Saravanamuttu Stadium (PSS) will end a 15-year drought. Their only series win in Sri Lanka was in 1993. Sri Lanka, though, have a strong record at the PSS: they've won four out of the last five Tests and drawn one against New Zealand in 2003. It is also the venue of Sri Lanka's maiden Test victory, against India in 1985.

  • Sri Lanka have a marginally better record when it comes to results in the last Test of a series. Since 2000, they've won 15 final Tests, lost 13 and drawn only five, while India have drawn and lost 10 each and won 11. Sri Lanka had won their last series at home against India 2-1, in 2001, by winning the final Test.

  • Winning the toss and batting first appears to be the right formula at the PSS. Sides winning the toss have decided to bat in ten Tests; the two other Tests saw Sri Lanka opting to field against Bangladesh, and they managed to win both in 2002 and 2007 by an innings margin. Teams winning the toss have won ten of 12 Tests, the only two reverses being Sri Lanka's loss in their inaugural Test against England, and South Africa's narrow one-wicket defeat in 2006. Click here for past results at the PSS.

  • The average runs per wicket at the PSS is 33.53. The average per wicket across the first three innings is 34.17, 35.25 and 33.08, and drops to 28 for the fourth innings. No Tests were played at the PSS between 1994 and 2002 and, in six Tests after, the average per wicket has been similar - 33.48. The innings averages, however, show a change: the average for the first innings is 36.1, the second rises to 41.2, the third drops sharply to 23.2 and the fourth is 32.9

  • Fast bowlers have taken 98 wickets at an average of 35.16 and strike-rate of 58.8 in the last six Tests at the PSS. In comparison, spinners have taken 82 wickets at 30.98 apiece at a strike-rate of 60.2.

  • Muttiah Muralitharan is the leading wicket-taker at the PSS, but his tally of 47 in eight Tests look bleak when compared to his records at other Sri Lankan grounds. Murali's average of 23.00 and strike-rate of 53.60 at the PSS is the worst among all venues in Sri Lanka where he's played at least five Tests. However in the five Tests he's played at the PSS since 2002, Murali's taken 37 wickets at an average of 18.29 and strike-rate of 44.70. Chaminda Vaas has had poor returns at this venue: nine wickets in four Tests at 39.11 apiece.

  • Kumar Sangakkara has the best record at the PSS in the current Sri Lankan squad. He's scored 400 runs here at an average of 80, including a 200 not out against Bangladesh. Mahela Jayawardene, on the other hand, averages only 40.83, having scored 245 runs in six innings.

  • The average opening stand at the PSS is 32.04, however, it drops to 24.94 for Sri Lankan openers, who've managed to add only half-century partnerships and no century stands in 17 innings. Overseas openers have fared better, averaging 36.55 with one century and five-half century partnerships. (Click here to view the list of opening stands at the PSS, and here for Sri Lanka's.)

  • Sri Lanka's middle order has proved solid at the PSS. The average partnership for the third wicket is 45.76 with three century partnerships and it rises to 62.06 for the fourth and 85.46 for the fifth. Even the sixth wicket has managed to add 44.20 on average. Visiting sides in comparison average 33.60, 44.78, and 34.70 for the third, fourth and fifth wicket.

  • Anil Kumble and Sachin Tendulkar are the only Indians from the current squad to have played a Test at the PSS. Tendulkar scored 71 in that match in 1993, while Kumble picked up 5 for 203. Tendulkar needs 97 more to beat Brian Lara's record of most Test runs.

George Binoy is a staff writer at Cricinfo