Home > Features > Moments in history >

When Sri Lanka beat India to win their first ever Test match

When Sri Lanka beat India to win their first ever Test match

The P Saravanamuttu Stadium in Colombo, where Sri Lanka recorded their first Test victory © Getty Images

On September 11, 1985, Sri Lanka tasted victory for the first time in Test cricket. The historical moment came on home shores at the P Saravanamuttu Stadium in Colombo. Prakash Govindasreenivasan has more.

Entering the Test arena in 1982, Sri Lanka were still rookies, second best compared to their neighbours India, who began playing Test cricket in 1932, five decades before Sri Lanka did.  In that sense, they were up against a stronger side. However, Sri Lanka’s achievement on this day in 1985 became a defining moment and a major landmark in the history of the game in the country. It came after the team had played 13 Tests without a win. However, the events that unfolded at the Colombo stadium reduced that statistic to a mere number that would eventually fade away.

Sri Lanka hosted India for a three-match Test series, of which the first one played at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) in Colombo, ended in a draw.  There was just a day’s gap between the end of the first Test and the start of the second. The P Saravanamuttu Stadium hosted the second Test that saw the hosts tinker with their bowling unit and give right-arm leg-break bowler Sanjeewa Weerasinghe his Test debut.

The slow start

A score of 168 for one at the end of the first day was, by all means, a slow start for the hosts. Having won the toss and electing to bat, Sri Lanka crawled their way to 16. Amal Silva and Ranjan Madugalle were at the crease when the stumps were drawn.

The second day saw the hosts lose their last six wickets for just 17 runs after Amal (111), Madugalle (54), Roy Dias (95)  and skipper Duleep Mendis (51) helped the hosts go past the 300-run mark. They were bowled out for 385. They then picked up three quick wickets to leave India wobbling at six for three at the end of the second day. The visitors, however, recovered on the third day. Opener Krishnamachari Srikkanth and Sunil Gavaskar scored half-centuries to keep India afloat while Mohinder Amarnath was unbeaten on 48 when the day came to an end with India on 210 for six.

After a rest day in between, the two teams resumed action on Day Four which saw the Indian tail being wiped out in no time for 244. This gave the hosts a healthy first innings lead of 141 runs. When the Sri Lankans came out to bat again on the fourth day, they came with the motive of scoring at a good rate and giving their bowlers enough time to bowl out the opposition. Quick-fire knocks from Aravinda de Silva (75) Roy Dias (60 not out) saw Sri Lanka blaze away to 206 for three before Mendis decided to declare. India were set a target of 348 to get in little over three sessions. The first hurdle for the visitors was to get away unscathed at the end of the penultimate day. They did just that and finished on 16 for no-loss.
The D-Day

Rumesh Ratnayake, who picked up four wickets in the first innings, turned the match on its head, just when one thought that India would push for a draw. Ratnayake’s first big wicket of the innings was that of Srikkanth. He then ripped through the Indian middle-order to cause a few concerns for the visitors. From 84 for four, India were reduced to 98 for seven and seemed to be staring at a massive defeat. The mood in the Sri Lankan camp couldn’t have been better. Most of them would have fancied their chances of tasting their first Test victory for Sri Lanka on that day in Colombo.

India needed a hero and Kapil Dev stepped up. He stood tall and strong between Sri Lanka and their first Test win. His defiant display of batting began to worry the hosts and put doubts in the minds of the fans. India were surely out of the game but was Kapil on his way to an unbelievable performance that could rob the hosts of their first win? A lot of anxious spectators would have thought so. Kapil and Laxman Sivaramakrishnan added 70 runs for the eighth wicket and frustrated the Sri Lankans. If this partnership had stayed on any longer, India would have probably escaped with a miraculous draw. However, Ashantha de Mel got rid of Sivaramakrishnan to leave India with just one wicket in hand and Sri Lanka a step closer to destiny. Chetan Sharma, who is not too popular for his technique (or the lack of it) with the bat was the last man in who survived for a long period to add to Sri Lanka’s frustration. Ratnayake, who had four wickets in either innings to his name till that point of the match, sealed the deal by taking a very well-judged return catch off his bowling to bring an end to Kapil’s battle. India were bowled out of 198, giving Sri Lanka a massive 149-run victory.

What followed

It was truly a remarkable triumph for a team that was then considered amateur in the world of cricket. Such was the magnanimity of the win that the entire nation celebrated the event. The following day was declared as a public holiday to acknowledge the achievement.  As far as the series was concerned, this win was enough for them to clinch the series, as the third and final Test match ended in a draw, giving the hosts a 1-0 victory.
Brief scores:

Sri Lanka 385 (Amal Silva 111, Roy Dias 95, Ranjan Madugalle 54; Chetan Sharma 5 for 118) and 206 for 3 decl. (Aravinda de Silva 75, Roy Dias 60) beat India 244 (Krishnamachari Srikkanth 64, Mohinder Amarnath 60, Sunil Gavaskar 52; Rumesh Ratnayake 4 for 76, Saliya Ahangama 3 for 59) and 198 (Kapil Dev 78; Rumesh Ratnayake 5 for 49, Ashantha de Mel 3 for 64) by 149 runs.

(Prakash Govindasreenivasan is a reporter with CricketCountry. His Twitter handle is @PrakashG_89)

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 22, 2014 (12:30 IST)   at Bulawayo

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 24, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 24, 2014 (12:30 IST)   at Bulawayo

India tour of England 2014

Jul 27, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Southampton

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 6, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Galle

More

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 20, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 8 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 18, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 6 wkts

India tour of England 2014

Jul 17, 2014  at London

India won by 95 runs

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 16, 2014  at Galle

South Africa won by 153 runs

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 12, 2014  at Hambantota

South Africa won by 82 runs

Photos

Gallery: India vs England 2nd Test at Lord's

Videos

Alastair Cook jokes about his bowling

Highlights of India’s historic win against England in 2nd Test at Lord’s

India learnt lessons from loss in 2011 in England: MS Dhoni

India’s win over England in 2nd Test at Lord’s: Twitter reactions

Ishant Sharma pummels England into submission as India clinch Lord’s Test by 95 runs

Ishant Sharma registers name at Lord’s honours board, takes 6 wickets in 2nd Test against England

Bhuvneshwar Kumar England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs South Africa Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2014 Zimbabwe vs Afghanistan 2014

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe 2014: Visitors win toss, elect to field

Live Cricket Score: Zimbabwe vs Afghanistan 3rd ODI at Bulawayo

India vs England 2014 2nd Test stats highlights: Day 5

Shaun Marsh to undergo elbow surgery

Alastair Cook not going to get any better, says Ricky Ponting

India vs England at Lord’s 2014 and Australia vs India at Perth 2007-08 similarities

England set for changes after humiliating defeat against India in 2nd Test at Lord’s

India’s overseas victories where pace bowlers dominated – Part 1 of 2

Stats highlights: India vs England 2nd Test at Lord’s

Matt Prior takes sensible decision by withdrawing himself from England squad

Fan of the Day

Fan Cricket

Fan Cricket

11 Posts | 2 Fans

Brazil vs Netherlands, 3rd place Fifa World Cup 2014 match Video Highlights

How to prevent child sex abuse – tips for parents

Shaun Marsh to undergo elbow surgery

India vs England 2014 2nd Test stats highlights: Day 5

Bangalore rape incident — what to do when the worse has happened?

Sunny Leone to star in Tera Beimaan Love

Assocham asks Defence Ministry to free spectrum for telecom sector

Xiaomi rakes up 100,000 pre-registrations for the Mi 3 in India

Kick music review: Salman Khan rocks in his singer avatar!

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here