Second Test


Toss: India.

India assumed control of the Test soon after Azharuddin came back from the toss with a smile on his face. He was still smiling four days later when he handed over his own Man-of-the-Match award to Kapil Dev, who had equalled Sir Richard Hadlee's record of 431 Test wickets. The pitch was certain to deteriorate once it lost its firm-looking surface, but for the first two days it allowed the ball to come on to the bat, ideal conditions for the Indian batsmen.

It was a matter of surprise, then, that three top-order Indian batsmen failed to pass the century mark after looking in command. Only Azharuddin held his nerve, though Sidhu came close enough before succumbing to the nervous nineties in bizarre fashion, given out leg-before, while running what he believed was the vital single to give him his second hundred in the series. Sidhu had already been dismissed on 97 and 98 in Tests. Tendulkar, who had cornered the honours on the first day, cracking the bowling at will to get to 90, was strangely subdued on the second morning; he added only six before he aimed an inventive off-glide, missed and was bowled. Azharuddin finally unravelled the mystery, giving himself plenty of time to get to his 13th Test century. A brisk fifty from Kapil Dev, off 68 balls, speeded up the declaration.

Sri Lanka, up against another total well past 500, began on a poor note, losing Samaraweera and, worse, De Silva, a victim of the hook trap set especially for him, on the second evening. The back of the Sri Lankan resistance was broken quickly next day after another classy effort by Mahanama, who batted for just over 100 minutes, a feat seemingly beyond the rest. Most of the wickets were taken by the Indian seamers, Prabhakar and Kapil Dev, which demonstrated how firm this pitch was compared to Lucknow, where Kapil bowled very little.

By the time they followed on, the Sri Lankans seemed to want to get the match over as soon as possible, like a patient undergoing painful surgery. Support spinners Raju and Chauhan undid the top order, while Kumble picked the rest off; Sri Lanka ended the third day still 131 behind with only three wickets left. Given the state of the match on the fourth morning, Azharuddin could instruct Kumble to bowl wide of the stumps, in order to leave Kapil enough batsmen to get near Hadlee's record. Kapil drew level when he had Anurasiri caught at slip; he broke down as the emotions of the moment overwhelmed him and months of tension were washed away. The wicket also completed India's victory in the Test and the series.

Man of the Match: M. Azharuddin.

Close of play: First day, India 339-3 (S. R. Tendulkar 90*, M. Azharuddin 32*); Second day, Sri Lanka 59-2 (R. S. Mahanama 25*, A. Ranatunga 11*); Third day, Sri Lanka 179-7 (R. S. Kalpage 10*).

© John Wisden & Co