Suranga Lakmal © AFP
Suranga Lakmal © AFP

Suranga Lakmal may not be a household name, but his soared through social media trends as he rocked India at Eden Gardens on the first day of the first Test of the three-match series between India and Sri Lanka. Not many bowlers have figures of 6-6-0-3 against the top-ranked Test side, after all. Dinesh Chandimal rightly put India in on a greenish pitch after intermittent rain delayed start of play. Lakmal responded in the best way possible: he bowled in the corridor and found late swing; and KL Rahul, fishing at it without much conviction, edged it to the big gloves of Niroshan Dickwella.

It was the third time that a wicket fell off the first ball at Eden Gardens. Lakmal is in elite company, for the others to do this were Andy Roberts (who got Sudhir Naik in 1974-75) and Malcolm Marshall (Sunil Gavaskar, 1982-83). Lakmal also became the first Sri Lankan and fifth bowler (after Richard Hadlee, Geoff Arnold, Kapil Dev, and Pedro Collins — who has done this thrice) to do this twice. No other Sri Lankan has done this even once. Here is a complete list.

Bowler Team Batsman Team Venue City Season Comments
Arthur Coningham Australia Archie MacLaren England MCG Melbourne 1894-95 First ball of Coningham’s career
Bert Vogler South Africa Tom Hayward England The Oval London 1907
Maurice Tate England Warren Bardsley Australia Headingley Leeds 1926
Frederick Badcock New Zealand Herbert Sutcliffe England Lancaster Park Christchurch 1932-33
Ernie McCormick Australia Stan Worthington England The Gabba Brisbane 1936-37
Fazal Mahmood Pakistan Conrad Hunte West Indies Queen’s Park Oval Port-of-Spain 1957-58
Graham McKenzie Australia Eddie Barlow South Africa Kingsmead Durban 1966-67
Abid Ali India Roy Fredericks West Indies Queen’s Park Oval Port-of-Spain 1970-71
Richard Hadlee New Zealand Keith Stackpole Australia Eden Park Auckland 1973-74
Geoff Arnold England Sunil Gavaskar India Edgbaston Birmingham 1974
Andy Roberts West Indies Sudhir Naik India Eden Gardens Calcutta/Kolkata 1974-75
Geoff Arnold England John Morrison New Zealand Lancaster Park Christchurch 1974-75
Kapil Dev India Mohsin Khan Pakistan Gandhi Stadium Jalandhar 1982-83 First match at ground
Malcolm Marshall West Indies Sunil Gavaskar India Eden Gardens Calcutta/Kolkata 1982-83
Imran Khan Pakistan Sunil Gavaskar India Sawai Mansingh Stadium Jaipur 1986-87 First match at ground
Richard Hadlee New Zealand WV Raman India McLean Park Napier 1989-90
Kapil Dev India Jimmy Cook South Africa Kingsmead Durban 1992-93 Cook was facing first ball of his career
Curtly Ambrose West Indies Gary Kirsten South Africa Newlands Cape Town 1998-99
Glenn McGrath Australia Sanath Jayasuriya Sri Lanka Galle International Stadium Galle 1999-00
Allan Donald South Africa Leon Garrick West Indies Sabina Park Kingston 2001 Garrick was facing first ball of his career
Mervyn Dillon West Indies SS Das India Kensington Oval Bridgetown 2002
Pedro Collins West Indies Hannan Sarkar Bangladesh Bangabandhu Dhaka 2002-03
Pedro Collins West Indies Hannan Sarkar Bangladesh Beausejour/Darren Sammy Gros Islet 2004
Pedro Collins West Indies Hannan Sarkar Bangladesh Sabina Park Kingston 2004
Mashrafe Mortaza Bangladesh Wasim Jaffer India ZACS Chittagong 2007
Ryan Sidebottom England Darren Ganga West Indies Riverside Park Chester-le-Street 2007
Mohammad Aamer Pakistan Tim McIntosh New Zealand University Oval Dunedin 2009-10
Dale Steyn South Africa Andrew Strauss England New Wanderers Johannesburg 2009-10
Suranga Lakmal Sri Lanka Chris Gayle West Indies Pallekele International Stadium Pallekele 2010-11 First match at ground
Mitchell Starc Australia Dimuth Karunaratne Sri Lanka Galle International Stadium Galle 2016
Suranga Lakmal Sri Lanka KL Rahul India Eden Gardens Calcutta/Kolkata 2017-18

Shikhar Dhawan went next, ill-advisedly trying to hit on the rise despite the movement and playing on. The players broke for tea as light deteriorated. Once play resumed, Lakmal struck Virat Kohli on the pads and Nigel Llong ruled him leg-before. Kohli’s review went in vain as India were left in tatters at 17 for 3. They did not add another run till stumps.

Lakmal also became first bowler to pick 3 wickets without conceding a run in his first six overs. Other before him to achieve such a feat are Peter Martin vs South Africa in 1995, Darell Tuffy vs India in 2002 and Jerome Taylor against West Indies in 2015; all picking 2 wickets each.