As India and Sri Lanka gear up to face each other at Galle starting Wednesday, we look back at one of the most memorable encounters for India at the venue, during the otherwise disastrous tour of 2008.
Toss: India won, and decided to bat first
Having decided to take first strike, India got off to a tremendous start as Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir added 167 for the opening wicket in just under 32 overs. The partnership was finally broken when India's nemesis in that series, Ajantha Mendis trapped him leg before for 56. Gambhir's wicket led to a procession of sorts. From 167 for no loss, India crumbled to 178 for 4 in a matter of a few overs. Rahul Dravid was sent back by Mendis for 2 while stalwarts Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly fell to the guile of Chaminda Vaas for 5 and a duck respectively.
All this while Sehwag was easing his way around. Even as the other greats were struggling, the dashing opener was having it easy. It was as if Sehwag was batting on a completely different surface. He finally found an ally in VVS Laxman. The duo added exactly 100 runs before Laxman became another of Mendis' victims. Sehwag almost singlehandedly took India to a respectable score after the lower order fell to pieces. Sehwag remained unbeaten on 201 from 231 balls hitting 22 fours and 4 sixes. In complete contrast, the last five Indian batsmen only contributed 14 runs.
After Sehwag's double hundred took India to 329, the Indian bowlers responded well to the challenge. Zaheer Khan sent back Michael Vandort in the very first over. However, Malinda Warnapura and Kumar Sangakkara featured in a very good rearguard action for Lanka. The two took the score to 137 when Warnapura was dismissed by Harbhajan Singh for 68. Sangakkara departed soon after for 68, as Harbhajan delivered a double strike.
Skipper Mahela Jayawardene held the innings together with his 86, but India kept claiming wickets at the other end. Harbhajan got most of the lower order bats, finishing with 6 for 102. Kumble played the good supporting act with three scalps, including the one of Jayawardene.
India bowled Lanka for 292 to gain a slender lead. India managed a decent 269 in the second innings. This time, Gambhir starred with 74 while Sehwag played the supporting act with 50. Dravid and Tendulkar chipped in with 44 and 31 respectively. Mendis again stood out for Lanka with four wickets, but Lanka were set a tough target of 307.
Sri Lanka crumbled under pressure, and folded up for 136 to give India a memorable 170-run victory. Ishant Sharma was at his hostile best, claiming 3 for 20, including the scalps of Jayawardene and Dilshan. Harbhajan picked up 10 wickets in the match by claiming four wickets in the second innings. For Lanka, Samaraweera was unbeaten on 67, but Sehwag has made the difference that mattered much before.
-- By A Cricket Analyst