As Virat Kohli-led side began their first Test in the three-Test series against Sri Lanka in Galle, we take a look at the 2008 Test between the two teams on the same ground. It was the second match of that three-Test series. Of course, the wicket in Galle helped spinners. The test between India and Sri Lanka in 2008 was one of the toughest away tour that the Indians went to in the recent past. Sri Lanka won the series 2-1 and it was Ajantha Mendi’s mystery bowling and the DRS, making its debut were the talking points of this tournament.
Mendis and Muralitharan wreaked havoc against India’s top order as the famed batting line-up collapsed innings after innings. Surprisingly, Muttiah Muralitharan who supposed to create the biggest problems for Indian batsmen. It was rather, the young off-spinner Ajantha Mendis who troubled the Indian batting line-up that had batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman in the first innings. But one man stood all. And he was Virender Sehwag.
The amazing opener made an epic 201 out of the team’s total of 329. The Sultan of Multan was known for his no nonsense approach to the game and always batted on his own terms. Sehwag had to give India a brilliant start in the second test in Galle and a solid platform to build upon. This knock of 201* against Lankans was probably his best performance in white shirt. And the reason behind is because of the immense maturity that he showed despite losing the big wickets. Sehwag played with grace against the spinners and took risk only when the ball was pitched in his hitting area.
On a wicket where scoring wasn’t easy, two bowlers – Mendis (6/117 and 4/92) and Harbhajan Singh (6/102 and 4/51) had ten-wicket hauls. And yet Sehwag was just unbelievably good with the bat on the same pitch, giving India a superb platform with that 201 in the first innings and a 50 off 52 balls in the second innings as Anil Kumble’s team went on to win the Test by 170 runs.
Many still hail Sehwag’s 201* as the finest exhibition of batting by a foreign player in Sri Lanka.