Indian captains and their Test cricket records in Sri Lanka

Five captains have led India in a Test series in Sri Lanka in the past.

Indian captains and their Test cricket records in Sri Lanka
Updated: August 7, 2015 5:33 PM IST | Edited By: Amit Banerjee

(From left to right): Kapil Dev (1985), Mohammad Azharuddin (1993, 1999), Sachin Tendulkar (1997), Sourav Ganguly (2001), Anil Kumble (2008) and MS Dhoni (2010) © Getty Images (From left to right): Kapil Dev (1985), Mohammad Azharuddin (1993, 1999), Sachin Tendulkar (1997), Sourav Ganguly (2001), Anil Kumble (2008) and MS Dhoni (2010) © Getty Images

India commenced their tour of Sri Lanka on Thursday, August 6, with a tour game against the Sri Lanka President XI, following which they are to face the Lankans in a three-Test series. The series will be important from Virat Kohli’s perspective, for who the series presents an opportunity to record his first Test win as captain. Amit Banerjee lists the records of the past Indian captains in the island nation, and elucidates on Kohli’s captaincy.

India and Sri Lanka have produced some of the most entertaining contests in the sport of cricket, especially after the latter’s rise in international cricket in the mid and late 90s. The two have clashed more often than not in One-Day Internationals (ODI), having contested in 149 matches in the 50-over format, the most between any two teams. Records have also tumbled in the Test arena between the two sides, if one remembers the memorable 1997 Test at the R Premadasa Stadium. READ: 5 memorable Tests between India and Sri Lanka

Quite a few have captained an Indian contingent to Sri Lanka in the past, though few have met success in the longest format in the island, given the fact that the Sri Lankans are tough opponents in their own backyard. Let us now take a look at the records of the Indian captains in Sri Lanka:

Kapil Dev (1985): The two sides had met only once before this series, when Sri Lanka played their first-ever Test at Chennai on September 1982. While that match ended in a draw, India entered the three-Test series in 1985 as strong favourites, mainly due the outstanding form that they had displayed that year. Sri Lanka would however, go on to surprise everyone by recording their first-ever victory in the format, winning the series 1-0 in the process as well. The victory saw the emergence of Sri Lankan pacer Rumesh Ratnayake, as well as the flamboyant batsmen in the form of Amal Silva and Roy Dias. READ: Virat Kohli's captaincy will steer a new beginning for India

Record: Won 0, Lost 1, Drawn 2.

Mohammad Azharuddin (1993, 1999): Azhar had established himself as the leader at the start of the new decade, and had captained the Indian team in the 1992 World Cup. Under his captaincy, India managed to record their first-ever Test win in the island, winning the second game at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) in Colombo by 235 runs, while drawing the first and third Tests at Kandy at P Sara Oval (Colombo) respectively. Azhar would later captain India against Sri Lanka during the Asian Test Championship in 1999, with the match turning out to be a high-scoring draw.

Record: Won 1, Lost 0, Drawn 3.

Sachin Tendulkar (1997): Sachin Tendulkar’s reign as the Indian captain was not a very fruitful one, which can be ascertained from his captaincy record in Tests (won 4, lost 9 and drew 12).  Under his captaincy, India settled for a stalemate in the two-Test series that was held in the month of August 1997. The series turned out to be a run-scoring fest on the flat decks of SSC and R Premadasa Stadium (RPS). The first Test saw India declaring at a score of 537 for 8 on Day Two, with Sri Lanka batting the rest of the days out to post the highest score in Test cricket (952 for six). It would be fair to point out here that India were facing one of the best teams ever fielded by Sri Lanka, one that had won the World Cup a year back. VIDEO: Sri Lanka score 952 runs in an innings

Record: Won 0, Lost 0, Drawn 2.

Sourav Ganguly (2001): Ganguly had taken over the post of the Indian captain following the match-fixing scandal in 2000, and established himself as the leader following the team’s historic triumph in the 2001 Test series against Australia. India landed on the shores of Sri Lanka after an unsuccessful tour of Zimbabwe, in which they failed to win either the triangular One-Day International (ODI) or Test series.

India had a disappointing time in the tri-series involving Sri Lanka and New Zealand, losing the final to the hosts by 121 runs. The Indians started the three-Test series on a forgettable note, losing the Galle Test by 10 wickets. They managed to stage a fightback in the second Test at Kandy, where Ganguly produced a gem of an innings (98 not out off 152 balls) to help India chase the 264-run target by seven wickets. India went on to lose the deciding Test at the SSC by an innings and 77 runs, with as many as four Sri Lankan batsmen slamming centuries in their only innings.

Record: Won 1, Lost 2, Drawn 0.

Anil Kumble (2008): India toured Sri Lanka in July-August 2008, with Kumble having become the Test captain recently. India lost the first Test massively by an innings and 239 runs (one of India’s biggest defeats ever), with four batsmen slamming centuries for the hosts and Muttiah Muralitharan weaving his magic around the Indian batsmen with match figures of 11 for 110. Like in the 2001 series, India managed to level the series in a convincing manner (170 runs) before Sri Lanka finished things off with an eight-wicket win in the final Test.

Record: Won 1, Lost 2, Drawn 0

MS Dhoni (2010): Exactly two years later, India would embark upon a similar tour, albeit this time Dhoni’s captaincy was at its peak. The series saw the batsmen make merry for the most part, as well as Muttiah Muralitharan retire from the format. After losing the first Test by 10 wickets, and drawing the second, it was VVS Laxman and his heroic century that helped India level the series. READ: Eight statistics that reflect an overkill of India-Sri Lanka cricket since 2008

Record: Won 1, Lost 1, Drawn 1

(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, travelling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)