India vs Sri Lanka: More than just a contest
The India-Sri Lanka Test series promises to be of immense interest, as India will look to end the 15-year win drought on Lankan soil. Adding zing to it would be a few mini yet high-voltage rivalries. Here's a rundown of the mini clashes to watch out for in the battle between the two neighbours.
The India-Sri Lanka Test series promises to be of immense interest, as India will look to end the 15-year win drought on Lankan soil. Adding zing to the great contest would be a few mini yet high-voltage rivalries. Here’s a rundown of the mini clashes that you need to watch out for in the battle between the two neighbours:
<p>The trinity of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid are ready to fire after a prolonged absence from international cricket. While the injured Tendulkar decided to opt out of the Bangladesh tri-series and Asia Cup, the other two goliaths of Indian cricket were ignored by the selectors for the 50-over format.</p> <p>These three still rule the Indian middle-order and their very presence gives a formidable look to the team. Their records against Sri Lanka underline their significance in the side. </p> <p>Sachin has scored 1313 runs in 16 matches at an average of 69.10 with the help of seven centuries. Ganguly has scored 968 runs at an average of 56.94 while Dravid has scored 832 runs at an average of 52.00 in eleven Tests against the islanders.</p>
<p>Sri Lanka's new spin sensation Ajantha Mendis has been hailed as a bigger threat than Muralitharan, after his impressive stint in the Asia Cup final, where he ran over the Indian batting. But the difference in the ODIs and the Tests is as evident as the build of the Indian side in both the formats. And who knows, Mendis might face a tough Test debut, given the strength of India’s batting armoury. With Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman - known for their deftness in tackling spin, back in the side, the middle-order looks rock solid. </p> <p>But that should not make them take Mendis lightly. Though his comparison to Murali may sound slightly rhetoric, the right-arm spinner has a terrific record to back his place in the Test side. In the 19 first class matches that he has played, Ajantha has picked 111 wickets at an average of 14.54.</p>
<p>For more than a decade he's been leading the spin department of Sri Lanka. The world's leading wicket taker, Muttiah Muralitharan, remains the main threat to Team India in the Test series. He has played 15 Tests against India and picked 67 wickets.</p> <p>India's main batsmen, despite their stature, have always struggled against him. He has dismissed Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid five times each while Ganguly has perished four times trying to decipher the keenness of his craft. Murali has removed VVS Laxman just once while he has been unsuccessful against Virender Sehwag. <br /> </p>
<p>India's most successful spin pair - Anil Kumble and Harabhajan Singh - is back to business. While Bhajji has made his way back into the side after serving a five-ODI suspension for slapping S Sreesanth during an IPL match, Test skipper Anil Kumble returns after a month-long break post IPL.</p> <p>It's a well known fact that spinners bowl well in tandem and these two Indians have proved time and again that they can be very effective together. While Kumble has played 15 Tests, Bhajji has played seven Tests against Sri Lanka, and together the two have taken 87 wickets against the side. Moreover, the inclusion of impressive newcomer Pragyan Ojha further strengthens India’s spin department.</p> <p>But will they be able to contain the likes of Sangakkara, Silva and Jayawardene?</p>
<p>Kumar Sangakkara, the current number one Test batsman, is Sri Lanka's batting mainstay. After Sanath Jayasuriya's retirement from Tests, Sri Lanka's batting has revolved around him. In the last six matches, he has scored over 600 runs at an average of 63.</p> <p>Against India, Sangakkara has played six Tests and scored 320 runs at an average of 40. But given his recent form, he is capable of giving Indian bowlers a severe headache. The only way to stop him is to get him early in the innings. Can Zaheer & Co do it with the new ball?<br /> </p>