First Test Match

India v Sri Lanka

At Mohali, November 19, 20, 21, 22, 23. Drawn. Toss: India. Test debut: S. K. L. De Silva.

A brilliant unbeaten century from Aravinda de Silva, his seventh in seven Tests, denied India a victory that appeared theirs when they reduced Sri Lanka to 106 for five, still 40 behind, at the stroke of lunch on the fifth day. All-rounder Dharmasena helped him add 103 to ensure the draw. De Silva hit 15 fours and a six in just under six and a half hours and passed 1,000 runs for the calendar years. "It was the best of his last seven centuries, keeping in mind the timing and value of this knock for Sri Lankan cricket," said his captain, Ranatunga.

India had created a winning position despite an opening-day century from Sri Lankan opener Atapattu, three days before his 27th birthday. Atapattu's previous two Tests in India had resulted in two pairs, but this time he reached a maiden hundred, in his tenth Test. He was dismissed shortly before the close by Srinath. After nine months on the injury list, Srinath gradually recaptured his pace and was consistently the best of the Indian bowlers. On the second morning, he and Kuruvilla combined to cut down the visitors from a promising 301 for four to 369 all out.

India's laboured reply made it clear that their new coach, Anshuman Gaekwad, and captain Tendulkar were intent on batting just once. They reached 91 without loss in 53 overs on the second day and added 202 off 90 on the third to close at 293 for four. The platform was laid by Sidhu, who completed his ninth Test century, his first in his home state of Punjab.

The urgent need for quick runs finally hit home after first-innings lead was achieved, and Ganguly led the charge with a well-paced century, his first in any Test in India. After his first 50 spanned 181 balls, he put his foot on the accelerator and reached his hundred off another 51 deliveries, with nine fours and two sixes. It took him past 1,000 runs in his 15th Test; earlier in the innings, there had also been 1,000-run landmarks for Azharuddin (against Sri Lanka) and Tendulkar (as captain). Ganguly and Kuruvilla provided the most entertaining batting of the match by adding 89 runs, a ninth-wicket record for India against Sri Lanka, off just 70 balls - Kuruvilla clouted three sixes in a Test-best 35.

India tightened their grip when Srinath dismissed Jayasuriya and Mahanama on the fourth afternoon. Next morning, three more wickets fell, with Tillekeratne out the ball before lunch. But India could not close the deal after the break. De Silva unselfishly took an offer of bad light when unbeaten on 98, though the skies brightened long enough for him to complete his hundred.

Man of the Match: P. A. De Silva.

Close of play: First day, Sri Lanka 280-4 (A. Ranatunga 14*, H. P. Tillekeratne 9*); Second day, India 91-0 (N. R. Mongia 41*, N. S. Sidhu 47*); Third day, India 293-4 (M. Azharuddin 23*, S. C. Ganguly 7*); Fourth day, Sri Lanka 61-2 (M. S. Atapattu 26*, P. A. De Silva 6*).

© John Wisden & Co