First Test

INDIA v SRI LANKA 1993-94

D. Singh Babu Stadium, Lucknow, January 18, 19, 20, 22. India won by an innings 9 runs. Toss: India. Test debut: N. R. Mongia.

The Tourists were hardly prepared for the perils of Test cricket in India - pitches tailored to spin bowling and batsmen adept at piling runs up on them. The home team's start was uninspiring, the openers struggled to find their rhythm against Wickremasinghe, who bowled his heart out on a desperately slow pitch at the world's 72nd Test ground. Not until mid-afternoon, when the assured Tendulkar helped place conditions in perspective, did India resemble the side so used to dominating visiting teams. Sidhu, during a 121-run stand with Tendulkar, was particularly severe on off-spinner Muralitharan, striking him for six of his eight sixes - two hits short of Walter Hammond's Test record of ten sixes against New Zealand in 1932-33. Despite this rough treatment, the bowler never lost heart and was rewarded when Sidhu holed out, failing to clear the fence at long-on.

Another century stand, between Tendulkar and Azharuddin, sent India soaring towards 511, the kind of total to prompt early thoughts of an innings victory. Yet Sri Lanka seemed to be ruling out such a possibility as Mahanama, elegantly, and Samaraweera kept the Indians at bay, taking their stand to 120. Kumble looked desperate as he tried to tempt Mahanama into sweeping, but the batsman fell for it, providing the breakthrough for India and a first catch for their new wicket-keeper, Nayan Mongia. In the very next over Samaraweera swept in front of the stumps and missed.

Suddenly the floodgates were open, and the rest of the Test became a procession of batsmen. Given the Sri Lankans' propensity to commit themselves to shots even when plagued by doubt, it did not take the spinners long to finish the job. Though three of the top order suspected they were victims of a trigger-happy debutant umpire - Sharma - the visitors were incapable of recovering from such blows. Their second innings subsided so quickly that the fifth day was not required. Kumble, only modestly successful by his own standards with four first-innings wickets, was irresistible in the second. He returned Test-best figures of seven for 59 and his first haul of ten or more in a Test with 11 for 128. This feat he achieved even though his spinning finger had been battered out of shape, through an injury sustained while batting in an earlier game, and though the webbing of his bowling hand had been damaged in the field.

Man of the Match: A. Kumble.

Close of play: First day, India 269-3 (S. R. Tendulkar 88*, M. Azharuddin 20*); Second day, India 511; Third day, Sri Lanka 197-7 (D. K. Liyanage 6*, S. D. Anurasiri 2*).

© John Wisden & Co