India's island neighbours are back for the real 'test' after a hiatus of four years. Now why I call it as their real 'test' because they are yet to record their first Test win on the Indian soil.
Both the teams have a reputation of being almost invincible on their respective home turfs. They have played 29 Tests against each other, out of which India finished on the winning side eleven times, while the Sri Lanka have five victories to their credit. On thirteen occasions there were no winners.
India are going into this series after a stinging ODI series defeat against Australia. Though the Test outfit has a different look, skipper MS Dhoni would be keen to salvage some pride and keep his Test leadership record intact.
However, what gives India an upper edge is that they have not lost a single Test match at home against Sri Lanka. In fact, they have faced Lanka in 14 Tests in their backyard and have won eight of them.
But can they do it this time?
It will not be a cakewalk, Lankans can give it a shot nevertheless. There is no Anil Kumble to make their life miserable and given the current form of Harbhajan Singh, Sangakkara & Co will not be sweating too much.
While India's pace department has got the Zaheer Khan boost, Ishant Sharma and Sreesanth's form and consistency are questionable. Sreesanth has been out of international cricket for quite sometime and his domestic performance is nothing to boast about. Ishant too has been struggling to get his rhythm back. And though he looked better during the Australia series, he's far from his better self.
Indian batting lineup has a formidable look, but it has of late not clicked as a unit. While VVS Laxman is back in the side after the New Zealand series, Rahul Dravid's ODI comeback during the Champions Trophy was not up to his standards. Though Test cricket is a different format, form and fitness still are the determiners of a player's performance.
So, can the Lankans exploit and expose India's weak links or will they choose to be haunted by their past records? This might be Muttiah Muralitharan's last Test series in India and he would want to end it on a winning note.
India, on the other hand, would try their best not to be daunted by their recent ODI failures and keep the stats swinging in favour.
Whatever may be the outcome, fans and followers are in for some tough on-field battle.