First Test Match

Sri Lanka v India 1997-98

Craig Cozier

At Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo, August 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. Drawn. Toss: India. Test debut D. S. Mohanty.

India's deposed captain Azharuddin came to their rescue with a fighting unbeaten century, to force a draw in the Second Test and ensure the short series was shared 0-0. The Sinhalese Sports Club pitch proved somewhat less unfriendly to the bowlers than Premadasa. Tendulkar called correctly once again; this time, he put the opposition in and bowled them out for 332, with his three fast bowlers sharing eight wickets between them. Most impressive was 21-year-old Debasis Mohanty, the first Test player from the state of Orissa. Among his collection of four wickets were the prize scalps of Jayasuriya, Mahanama and Aravinda de Silva, who batted just over six hours for his 13th Test century. When India replied, Tendulkar also scored a 13th century - having taken 55 Tests to de Silva's 63 - benefiting from a dropped catch on 34. With the left-hander Ganguly, he put together 150 for the fifth wicket. But after Pushpakumara had Tendulkar caught at extra cover, off-spinner Muralitharan ran through the lower order, taking three for eight to finish with four for 99. Ganguly was last out for a chanceless, Test-best 147, having batted for 426 minutes, reaching the boundary on 19 occasions and clearing it twice. He steered India to a first-innings lead of 43.

Jayasuriya and de Silva resumed their dominance of the Indian bowling, sharing in a third-wicket partnership of 218 in 211 minutes, a Sri Lankan record against any country. In another chanceless display, Jayasuriya hit 21 fours and two sixes in 419 minutes. He faced only 226 balls and, at one stage, was in line to beat the fastest Test double-century recorded in terms of balls - 220, by England's Ian Botham against India in 1982. But he missed his chance and then, one short of the double-hundred, he was bowled off his pads. Earlier in the day, at 85, he had become the first batsman to reach 1,000 Test runs in 1997. De Silva scored a century in each innings for the second time in five months; going back to the series against Pakistan in April, he had scored six hundreds in successive Test innings in Colombo. After a shaky start, when he almost skied a catch to mid-off and was then bowled by a Kuruvilla no-ball, he batted for 267 minutes, hitting 13 fours in his 120. Ranatunga set India a target of 373 off a minimum of 103 overs, but they slid to 138 for four by mid-afternoon of the final day. Then Azharuddin, helped by some poor Sri Lankan catching - they missed him at 12, 40 and 51 - saw India through to a draw with an unbeaten 108. Ganguly helped him add 110 for the fifth wicket to put the game beyond Sri Lanka's reach.

Man of the Match: P. A. de Silva. Man of the Series: S. T. Jayasuriya.

© John Wisden & Co