Tests: India 1-0 Sri Lanka, ODIs: India 2 Sri Lanka 1

The Sri Lankans in India, 1990-91

After a largely successful tour of the English counties in 1990, the Sri Lankans were keen for international cricket. But they were ill prepared for their single Test on a visit to India which was hastily arranged amid uncertainty about the series proposed for later in the season. For the Indians, it was their first home Test for two years, during which time they had played fourteen Test matches on four overseas trips without a win. Eagerness to register the long-awaited victory was one factor blamed for the under-preparation of the pitch at Chandigarh, the fourteenth Indian city to host a Test, as was the late transfer from the proposed venue of Jullundur. Certainly the pitch was nowhere near standard at the start of the match.

The chief architect of India's win was the 21-year-old orthodox left-arm spinner from Hyderabad, Venkatapathy Raju. His nagging accuracy, genuine spin and even some bounce, on a pitch where the ball kept disturbingly low, brought him figures of six for 12 as Sri Lanka were dismissed for 82, their lowest Test score, and eight for 37 in the match. It was a welcome return for Raju, who had missed most of India's 1990 tour of England after a knuckle on his bowling hand was broken by a ball from Courtney Walsh. Another Indian bowler with cause for celebration was Kapil Dev, who equalled I. T. Botham's return of 376 Test wickets, second only to Sir Richard Hadlee's record 431. Kapil bowled with fire, his spirits rejuvenated by the helpful conditions in his native city. The older version of the Duke ball, with its more pronounced seam, may also have offered him more movement than he could obtain from the nine-strand ball in a whole English summer. On the batting side, India could be grateful to the patience of opener Ravi Shastri, who followed his successes in England with the Test's longest innings, 88 in more than five hours. Ironically, it was the omission of Arun Lal, the opening batsman seeking to make a comeback after a year and a half out of the team, which let in Raju. Originally the selectors had planned to play only two spinners, Narendra Hirwani and Gopal Sharma.

The Sri Lankan batsmen looked woefully out of touch, apart from Asanka Gurusinha, who made a delightful unbeaten 52 in the first innings, though Roshan Mahanama, Arjuna Ranatunga, the captain, and Hashan Tillekeratne suggested what might have been on an improving pitch in the second innings. Five batsmen went without scoring in the first innings, and four in the second, while another was 0 not out. Jayananda Warnaweera and Ranjith Madurasinghe, both off-spinners, enjoyed a fine spell on the first day as three Indian wickets fell for 12 runs, and Rumesh Ratnayake became the third Sri Lankan to take 50 Test wickets when he dismissed Vengsarkar. The players' morale was not lifted by some of the decisions made by the two novice Test umpires - one over-eager to give the batsman out, the other quite the opposite - but in fact none had any material effect on the game.

The one-day series was far more entertaining and better patronised, with the Sri Lankans proving a better match for the Indians in limited-overs cricket. After losing the first two games, they finished an otherwise unsuccessful tour on a winning note, doing well to pull off victory in Margao on a heavily watered pitch that baffled the home batsmen, who unwisely chose to go in first. Conditions were not very different when Sri Lanka batted, but the boldness of De Silva saw them home with more than seventeen overs to spare. Thus honour was restored to a team so anxious to play that they offered to take part in any additional Test or one-day internationals that could be arranged. The Indian Board, however, was unwilling to extend the eleventh-hour exercise.


Test match- Played 1: Lost 1.

One-day internationals- Played 3: Won 1, Lost 2.

Match reports for

Only Test: India v Sri Lanka at Chandigarh, Nov 23-27, 1990
Report | Scorecard

1st ODI: India v Sri Lanka at Nagpur, Dec 1, 1990
Report | Scorecard

2nd ODI: India v Sri Lanka at Pune, Dec 5, 1990
Report | Scorecard

3rd ODI: India v Sri Lanka at Margao, Dec 8, 1990
Report | Scorecard

2nd Match: India v Sri Lanka at Cuttack, Dec 28, 1990
Report | Scorecard

3rd Match: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka at Kolkata, Dec 31, 1990
Report | Scorecard

Final: India v Sri Lanka at Kolkata, Jan 4, 1991
Report | Scorecard

© John Wisden & Co