1) 2001 - SRI LANKA BEAT INDIA 2-1 - THE SANGA-JAYA SHOW BEGINS, MURALI STAYS THE MASTER AT HOME
A young Indian team visited Sri Lanka in August 2001, just months after their landmark victory over the mighty Australians. The goal was simple, start winning series outside India. But the first Test match at Galle showed that this Indian team was far from being an accomplished unit. An inspired spell of fast bowling by Dilhara Fernando had the visitors on the mat after a bright start by the top order. Fernando returned with figures of 5/42 and the wily Muralitharan also chipped in with three wickets as India folded for 187 in the first innings. The hosts were put in the driver's seat with Sanath Jayasuriya (111) and a young Kumar Sangakkara (105) hitting belligerent tons, Sri Lanka took a 175-run first innings lead. The Indians were equally dismal in the second innings as they were bowled out for 180, with Muralitharan picking up a 5 for, the Lankans won the match by 10 wickets.
Sourav Ganguly's team needed to turn things around in the second Test at Kandy and they did exactly what the doctor had prescribed. Mahela Jayawardene lit up the opening day with his stylish strokeplay, but his 104 was the only saving grace as the Indian bowlers hunted in a pack to bowl the hosts out for 274. India needed a strong reply but the batsmen failed to deliver yet again, opener Sadagopan Ramesh top scored with 47 while a lower order cameo from Harbhajan Singh (44), meant the visitors limped to a total of 232. Chaminda Vaas was the destroyer-in-chief with a four-wicket haul. Zaheer Khan (4/76) and Venkatesh Prasad (5/72) produced some great seam bowling in tandem to bowl the Lankans out for 221 in the second innings, leaving the visitors with a challenging target of 264 runs to win the match. The openers departed early, but the duo of Rahul Dravid (75) and Sourav Ganguly (98*) stitched together a 91-run stand to take India close to the target. The Indian captain was stranded at 98 but he had done the job for his team.
Muttiah Muralitharan picked up 11 wickets in the third Test at Colombo to help Sri Lanka win the series (Getty Images)
The jamboree moved to Colombo for the all important decider and it was here that Muralitharan took centre stage. The openers gave India a great start once again but the rest of the batting line up could not stand in front of the off-spinner's wizardry as he picked up 8 wickets to skittle the visitors out for 234. The Sri Lankan batsmen then got stuck into the Indian bowling with as many as four batsmen scoring centuries. Marvan Attapattu (108), Mahela Jayawardene (139), Hashan Tillakaratne (136*) and Thilan Samaraweera (103*), on debut, punished the Indian bowlers as Sri Lanka racked up a humongous 610 in their first essay. Muralitharan completed his ten-wicket match haul by picking up 3 in the second innings as India were bowled out for 299 to hand over the series to the Lankans.
2) 2008 - SRI LANKA BEAT INDIA 2-1 - INDIA FAIL TO SOLVE MURALI-MENDIS MYSTERY
India had a chance to get the better of the Lankans on their soil in 2008 as this was a team on the ascendance. But the spin duo of Muralitharan and the young mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis put paid to those plans. The first Test saw the hosts pile up 600 runs on the board in the first innings. Opener Malinda Warnapura (115), skipper Mahela Jayawardene (136), Thilan Samaraweera (127) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (125) made life miserable for the Indian bowlers. It went from bad to worse for the Anil Kumble-led team as Muralitharan (5/84) and Mendis (4/72) bowled the visitors out for 223. The off spinner picked up 6 more in the second innings to complete yet another 10-wicket match haul while the debutant Mendis picked up four more to end his maiden Test with 8 wickets as India were bowled out for 138 in the second innings to lose the match by an innings and 239 runs.
Ajantha Mendis (left) picked up 26 wickets in his debut series to win the 'Player of the series award', while Muralitharan for once took the backseat but was equally effective as he accounted for 21 scalps (Getty Images)
The second Test in Galle saw a masterpiece from the blade of Virender Sehwag. The opening duo of Sehwag and Gautam Gambir (56) put together 167 runs for the first wicket, but that was followed by a collapse as wickets kept falling at regular intervals. Sehwag though was unperturbed by what was happening at the other end as he scored 201 runs in just 231 deliveries, his hand and eye co-ordination helping him read the mysterious Mnedis off the pitch. Sehwag's efforts helped India put up 329 on the board, but Mendis was in the business with a six-wicket haul. Harbhajan Singh returned the favour by picking up 6 wickets as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 294 to hand the visitors a slender, but important, lead. Gambhir (74) and Sehwag (50) did the bulk of the scoring again as India were bowled out for 269 in the second innings with Mendis completing a 10-wicket haul. The hosts were set a daunting target to win the series but were bowled out for 136 with Harbhajan completing his own 10-wicket haul. India tied the series with a resounding 170-run win.
India's hopes of winning the decider were given a good start as Gambhir scored a defiant 74 at the top of the order, but Mendis picked up yet another 5-wicket haul to help the Lankans bowl India out for 249. Kumar Sangakkara produced special knock under pressure to give the hosts the edge, his fighting 144 giving the Lankans a healthy first innings lead of 147 runs. India needed a solid performance from its batsmen in the second innings but the Muralitharan-Mendis duo picked up 6 wickets among themselves to bowl the visitors out for 268. Sri Lanka chased down the target of little over hundred runs with ease to win the match by 8 wickets and along with that won their second consecutive series at home against India.
3) 2010 - SERIES DRAWN 1-1 - MURALI'S FINAL BOW AND LAXMAN'S VERY VERY SPECIAL RESCUE ACT
The legendary Muttiah Muralitharan was ready to make his final bow for Sri Lanka in a Test match. The wizard had announced before the start of the series that he would bring the curtains down onhis prolific career at the end of the first Test at Galle and an entire nation waited with bated breath to see whether their star bowler would be able to pick up his 800th Test wicket or not. The Test started with the Lankans piling up a huge 520/8 in the first innings, thanks mainly to twin centuries by Tharanga Paranavitana (111) and captain Kumar Sangakkara (103). Virender Sehwag played the way only he could as he stroked his way to a 118-ball 109, but apart from that only Yuvraj Singh managed to score a half-century as India were bundled out for 276 runs. Muralitharan, who needed 8 wickets in his last Test to reach the magical landmark of becoming the first bowler to take 800 Test wickets was once again the wrecker-in-chief, picking up the last of his 67 5-wicket hauls in Test cricket. India followed on and Sachin Tendulkar (84) and VVS Laxman (69) tried their best to help the visitors avoid an innings defeat but that wasn't to be. In true fairytale-style, Muralitharan picked up the last wicket of Pragyan Ojha to reach Mount. 800 as Sri Lanka recorded a huge win, which was a fitting tribute to the legend's career.
Muttiah Muralitharan celebrates after picking up his 800th wicket in his last Test, which was won by Sri Lanka (Getty Images)
Life without Muralitharan started for Sri Lanka with a draw at Colombo. The hosts batted first in what was to be a run-fest and scored 642 runs ona flat deck. Paranavitana (100) scored his second century of the series, and so did captain Kumar Sangakkara (219), who went on to convert it into a double century. Mhela Jayawardene further improved his already glorious record agains India by piling up 174 runs. India's reply was colossal as they put up their highest Test total away from home of 707 runs. Sachin Tendulkar (203) reminded the Lankans of his genius with a fine double century while Suresh Raina (120) left his imprints on the match by scoring a century on debut. Sri Lanka's second innings was a formality as both teams played out a draw on Lankan soil after a gap of 7 straight outings which had a result.
India needed to win the decider to level the series but the hosts were in no mood to let that happen. An unbeaten century (137) by Thilan Samaraweera helped the Lankans score a formidable 425. India's response was led by that man again, Virender Sehwag's 109 off 105 not only put India back in the match, it also helped the visitors save much needed time in order to force a result inthe game. The middle and lower order made important contributions as India managed to score 436 to take a slender lead. India needed to bowl Sri Lanka out early to stand a chance to chase down the target on the last day and they did that by reducing the hosts to 125/8. But a century stand between Samaraweera (83) and Mendis (78) frustrated the Indians. The hosts were finally bowled out for 267, India needing 257 to win the match on the final day.
VVS Laxman's unbeaten 103 helped India win the final Test and level the series (Getty Images)
Off-spinner Suraj Randiv pegged India back by picking up a five-wicket haul but a heroic century by VVS Laxman (103*) paved the way for a series leveliing victory. Sachin Tendulkar (54) and Suresh Raina (41*) played their part in a memorable Indian win.
4) 2015 - INDIA BEAT SRI LANKA 2-1 - VIRAT KOHLI'S INDIA WIN SERIES ON LANKAN SOIL AFTER 22 LONG YEARS
India's visit to the Emerald Isles in 2015 was a momentous one as it ws the first full-fledged away tour under the leadership of new captain Virat Kohli. But the series started poorly for the visitors as they were beaten by 63 runs at Galle despite taking a huge first innings lead. A 6-wicket haul by Ravichandran Ashwin helped India bowl the Lankans out for 183. India took a 192-run first innings lead as they posted 375 runs on the board, thanks mainly to centuries by Shikhar Dhawan (134) and captain Virat Kohli (103). Sri Lanka though were not ready to bow out without a fight and it was a classy unbeaten century by Dinesh Chandimal (162) in just 169 deliveries, which helped the hosts set up a target of 176 runs. India were expected to cruise to victory, but that wasn't to be as Rangana Herath picked up 7 second innings wickets to skittle the visitors out for 112 in what was one of the greatest comeback wins on Sri Lankan soil.
India needed to strike back in the second Test and they did just that at the P Sara Oval in Colombo. Buoyed by a KL Rahul century (108) at the top of the order and crucial contributions by Virat Kohli (78), Rohit Sharma (79) and Wriddhiman Saha (56), the hosts scored 393 after batting first. A century (102) by captain Angelo Mathews was the cornerstone of the Lankan innings, as they had to deal with an onslaught fromthe Indian spinners. Amit Mishra's 4-wicket haul helping the visitors stop the hosts at 306. India consolidated its position by scoring 325 in the second innings. Opener Murali Vijay's patient knock of 82 and a high quality century (126) by Ajinkya Rahane helped the visitors set a big target for the hosts. Sri Lanka were never in the chase as they losing wickets, Ashwin's five-wicket haul helping Kohli's men wrap up the match by a whopping 278 runs and level the series.
Ravichandran Ashwin was adjudged Man of the series for picking up 21 wickets in the three-match series (Getty Images)
India batted first in the decider at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo and their first innings was guided by an unbeaten century from the bat of Cheteshwar Pujara (145*), who was making his comeback into the team as an opener. Pujara's who had to spend considerable time out on the bench despite being India's best Test batsman responded in style with a knock that changed the fortunes of Indian cricket as the hosts scored 312 in their first essay. In one of his rare superlative displays in a long Test career, Ishant Sharma breathed new life in India's campaign as his five-wicket haul helped dismiss the hosts for 201. Sri Lanka came back hard by taking out India top order early in the second innings but the middle and lower order responded to the adversity and did enough to help India set up a target in excess of 350 runs for the hosts. Ishant returned to pick up three more wickets while Ashwin picked up four in the second innings. Angelo Mathews (110) and Kusal Mendis (70) fought valiantly but eventually it was Virat Kohli and his boys who rejoiced after winning the final Test by 117 runs.
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First Published: July 25, 2017, 8:49 PM IST