Muttiah Muralitharan © Getty Images
Muttiah Muralitharan © Getty Images

India and Sri Lanka are preparing hard for the upcoming three-match Test series, starting from November 16. While many have predicted India to whitewash the Lankans, the visitors are battling hard to stage a contest after their 0-3 drubbing this July and August. Muttiah Muralitharan spoke about Sri Lanka’s chances and provided a realistic approach to the India-Sri Lanka rivalry in the purest format.

From the horse‘s mouth

“Our chances of winning a Test match in India, I would say, are slim. All teams have struggled to compete in India. In the last 13 years only two teams [Australia in 2004-05 and England in 2012-13] have won a [sic] series in India. They are ranked No. 1 in the world at the moment, our Test cricket seems to be doing okay, but we are struggling in shorter formats of the game. This will be a tough series and the characters of our boys will be tested.

“When I played against India, they had the world’s best batting line-up. Their batting was stronger than now I would say. If you take that batting line-up, they had [Virender] Sehwag, [Gautam] Gambhir, [Rahul] Dravid, [Sachin] Tendulkar, [Sourav] Ganguly, [VVS] Laxman and [MS] Dhoni batting from one to seven. Some of them are all-time greats of the sport and it was a tough task for us.”

Tigers at home

“Similarly, we too were quite strong at home. Despite such a good side, India failed to win a series in Sri Lanka for some 22 years. We have some happy memories having made things tougher for them. It has been a superb rivalry and some closely contested games. That’s what the sport wants.

“There were some series where all games were drawn. In 1997 we played five Tests, two at home and three away and all games were drawn. Both teams had some quality batsmen. We had our chances. We were very close, but that’s how things happen in Test cricket.”