Spinner’s delight: 38 wickets to spin in Pallekele Test
Even though Sri Lanka lost, Akila Dananjaya was impressive with eight wickets in the match. (AFP Image)

Spinners dominated the second Test between England and Sri Lanka in Pallekele, which the visitors won by 57 runs to record their first series win in Sri Lanka after 17 years. A total of 38 wickets fell to spinners, which is a record for the most number of dismissals to spin in a Test match. The previous best is 37 in the year 1969 between India and New Zealand.

Jack Leach was the most impressive spinner of the match. The left-arm spinner followed his three wickets in the first session by registering his maiden five-wicket haul in the second. Aiding him from the other end was Moeen Ali, who picked up 4 for 72, to go with 2 for 85 in the first innings. The England pair accounted for 14 wickets in the Test. Four wickets went to Adil Rashid in the match, and adding Moeen’s two wickets in the first innings, England’s tally goes up to 19.

Now to Sri Lanka. In the first innings, Dilruwan Perera took 4 for 61, while Malinda Pushpakumara claimed 3 for 89. Pushpakumara however, toiled in the second innings picking up just one wickets but increased his count to four wickets in the match. Akila Dananjaya struggled in the first innings to pick up 2 for 80 in the first innings but went on to scalp six more in the second to take his tally to eight wickets. Three more to Perera and Sri Lankan spinners combined to take 19.

In 1969, the spin trio of S Venkataraghavan, Bishan Bedi and Erapalli Prasanna combined to take nine wickets each in both innings with Venkataraghavan producing 6 for 74 in the second innings. New Zealand didn’t hold their spinners back either and they took a wicket more than India’s spinners as a total of 37 wickets fell in the innings.

A match between India and Australia in Kolkata (then Calcutta) in 1956 resulted in spin accounting for 35 wickets. So did the fifth Test between arch-rivals India and Pakistan in 1987’s Bangalore Test where Maninder Singh had a field day registering career-best figures of 6 for 27. He completed his match-haul of ten wickets in the second innings while Ravi Shastri and Shivlal Yadav also were rewarded.