First Test Match

Sri Lanka v India

Toss: India. Test debut: Sri Lanka - D.P.M.de S.Jayawardena; India N.M.Kulkarni.

On the fifth and final morning, crowds gathered to see a Sri Lankan assault the peak of Test cricket. West Indian Brian Lara's Test record of 375 was under threat from another left-hander, two months his junior: Sanath Jayasuriya. Jayasuriya began the day on 326 and confidently moved to 340 with three fours and two singles. Then an off-break from Chauhan bounced a little more than he expected; he popped a simple catch to silly point to end his hopes of beating Lara. The disappointment was alleviated to some extent by Sri Lanka establishing two other world records. Jayasuriya and Mahanama put on 576, the highest partnership for any Test wicket and only one run short of all-time first-class record; and Sri Lanka's total of 952 for six was the highest in Test history.

The liaison between Jayasuriya and Mahanama began at the start of the third day, when they added 283 runs together. They carried on throughout the fourth day, adding a further 265. The partnership eventually ended on the morning of the final day, when Mahanama went back to a leg-break from Kumble and was given out lbw for 225, his maiden double-hundred. He had batted 753 minutes, facing 561 balls, and hit 28 fours. Jayasuriya and Mahanama became the second pair of batsmen to bat throughout two consecutive Test days, the first being West Indians Garry Sobers and Frank Worrell, against England at Bridgetown in 1959-60 - but in that case an hour was lost to rain. On this occasion, the Sri Lankan pair surpassed not only the previous Test-best for the second wicket, 451 between Australians Bill Ponsford and Don Bradman, against England in 1934, but also the previous highest for any Test wicket, 467 for the third between New Zealanders Andrew Jones and Martin Crowe against Sri Lanka in 1990-91. Only Vijay Hazare and Gul Mahomed had bettered their eventual 576, adding 577 for Baroda's fourth wicket against Holkar in 1946-47.

Losing Mahanama shook Jayasuriya's concentration; he left at the same score, 615, two balls later, having made 340, the fourth highest innings in Test cricket after Lara's 375, Sobers's 365 not out and Len Hutton's 364. In a chanceless display of 799 minutes - the second longest innings in first-class cricket, after Hanif Mohammad's 970 minutes batting for Pakistan against West Indies at Bridgetown in 1957-58 - Jayasuriya faced 578 balls and hit two sixes and 36 fours. He was also the first Sri Lankan to score a first-class triple-century. He was applauded by all the Indian fielders and received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Even after the double dismissal, India's bowlers had no respite. De Silva, Ranatunga and debutant Mahela Jayawardene continued to flay the bowling. De Silva completed his 12th Test century, batting 293 minutes and hitting 16 fours; with Ranatunga, he added 175 for the fourth wicket in 150 minutes. Yet another century stand - 131 for the fifth wicket between De Silva and Jayawardene - took Sri Lanka past England's Test record total of 903 for seven against Australia in 1938.

It was a terrible toss to win. "We should have batted second," said Indian captain Tendulkar. Even so, his team had dominated the first two days of the Test, piling up an apparently impressive 537 for eight - their highest total in Sri Lanka. After Sidhu had completed his eighth Test century on the opening day, Tendulkar and Azharuddin put on 221 in 242 minutes - a record for India's fourth wicket against Sri Lanka. They, too, scored hundreds: Azharuddin's was his 18th in Tests, putting him ahead of Dilip Vengsarkar and in sole second place in the Indian list of century-makers, behind Sunil Gavaskar's all-time record of 34.

The second day ended with debutant left-arm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni becoming the 12th bowler and first Indian to take a wicket with his first ball in Test cricket: he had Atapattu caught behind by Mongia. It was to be last wicket for twelve and a half hours. This remarkable Test produced 1,489 runs for only 14 wickets, with both teams batting only once on a pitch to break bowlers' hearts.

Man of the Match: S.T.Jayasuriya.

Close of play: First day, India 280-3 (S.R.Tendulkar 65*, M.Azharuddin 18*); Second day, Sri Lanka 39-1 (S.T.Jayasuriya 12*); Third day, Sri Lanka 322-1 (S.T.Jayasuriya 175*, R.S.Mahanama 115*); Fourth day, Sri Lanka 587-1 (S.T.Jayasuriya 326*, R.S.Mahanama 211*).

© John Wisden & Co
 
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