Third Test

INDIA v SRI LANKA 1993-94

Toss: Sri Lanka.

A third successive innings victory for a clean sweep in a series had been achieved only once in history, when England beat Test debutants West Indies in 1928. India could hardly have predicted such a result when Sri Lanka, who won the toss for the first time in the series, opted to bat on a doubtful-looking pitch, certain to be the worst behaved of the series.

But losing the toss proved a blessing in disguise for India; moisture under the surface meant it was at its most difficult on the first day. Raju, an accomplished bowler on bad pitches, ran through the visitors; his persistent line and low arm action allowed the ball to skid thorough and keep very low, a deadly cocktail. He got his chance late in the day. The morning had been reserved for the wicket Kapil Dev needed to pass Sir Richard Hadlee as the leading wicket-taker in Tests. He took it just after the first break for drinks: Tillekeratne was caught at forward short leg in Kapil's eighth over, sparking off a long round of celebrations in the middle and, later, in the dressing-room - it was also Azharuddin's birthday.

When Sidhu and Kambli were rattling up the runs in a second-wicket stand of 83, there was little indication of how bad the pitch really was. But the Sri Lankans did not quite know how to exploit it. Considering the conditions Azharuddin's 152 was near-miraculous. He batted for a minute over six hours - the next longest innings was Sidhu, at three hours - with virtually no durable support. He looked as if he was on a plumb pitch, despatching the bad balls for four while keeping out the good ones with polished defence.

The eventual lead was 239 and, even if the pitch seemed to be getting slightly better, Azharuddin's three diving catches at silly point and silly mid-off hastened the demise of Sri Lanka's second innings. But India's sixth consecutive home win by an innings in 12 months since England were downed in Madras was sealed by Raju. His destructive second-innings spell of six for 87 gave him his best Test figures of 11 for 125. Kumble went wicketless for the first time in 20 Test innings.

Man of the Match: M. Azharuddin.

Close of play: First day, India 90-1 (N. S. Sidhu 29*, V. G. Kambli 45*); Second day, India 329-8 (M. Azharuddin 134*, R. K. Chauhan 0*); Third day, Sri Lanka 154-5 (A. Ranatunga 5*, R. S. Kalpage 0*).

© John Wisden & Co