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India, Sri Lanka pacers miss all-time match wicket haul record by a whisker

The Kolkata Test between Indian cricket team and Sri Lanka cricket team will be remembered as one of the rare matches in the subcontinent which saw fast bowlers breathe fire.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Nov 20, 2017 20:04 IST
Devarchit Varma
Devarchit Varma
HIndustan Times, Mumbai
India vs Sri Lanka,IND vs SL,Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Indian cricket team's Bhuvneshwar Kumar celebrates the wicket of Sri Lanka cricket team's Lahiru Thirimanne during the final day of the first Test at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Monday. Bhuvi was adjudged the man of the match after he took eight Sri Lankan wickets in the match.(AFP)

The Kolkata Test against Sri Lanka cricket team provided Virat Kohli’s men a good experience of playing on a green-top wicket, something they would not mind ahead of India’s tougher assignments in South Africa, England, Australia and New Zealand. Fast bowlers dominating the match which ended in a draw at the Eden Gardens on Monday. (India vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Day 5 highlights)

Spinners have always reigned supreme in Indian conditions. From the time of Erapalli Prasanna, Bishan Singh Bedi and Srinivas Venkataraghavan, to Anil Kumble (with his record 619 wickets, out of which 350 came at home), Harbhajan Singh victories over Australia, and the pair of Ravichandran Ashwin-Ravindra Jadeja destroying the visiting batting line-ups in India’s home season of 2016-17, the examples are plenty. (India vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test Scorecard)

But fast bowlers have also announced their presence regularly. In 1983-84, Kapil Dev came agonisingly close to taking the first-ever 10-wicket haul in Test cricket , while Javagal Srinath produced the best spell for an Indian fast bowler — 13 for 132 against Pakistan — in the first Test of the Asian Test Championship (1999).


The Kolkata Test between India and Sri Lanka will be remembered one of the rare matches which saw fast bowlers breathe fire. In fact, the contest saw the first instance where no Indian spinner has taken a wicket in a home Test.

The pacers from both India and Sri Lanka claimed 32 wickets at Eden Gardens, falling just one short of the record of most wickets taken by fast bowlers in a Test in India.

They missed the all-time record by a whisker. The mark was set at Ahmedabad in 1983-84. Kapil’s 9/83 highlighted pacer domination in a match where the West Indies employed a four-pronged pace attack to win by 138 runs. The pacers shared 33 wickets between them, with the West Indies bowlers claiming 19, compared to India’s 14.


On two occasions — at Delhi in 1979-80 and at Kolkata in 1998-99 — fast bowlers from India and Pakistani teams combined to take 30 wickets.

In three separate Tests, fast bowlers have taken a combined 28 wickets in a Test in India, with the last being India versus West Indies Test at Delhi in 1987-88, which followed India versus England in 1981-82 and India versus England in 1979-80.

In the only Test of England’s tour in 1980, Ian Botham claimed 6/58 and 7/48 to set up a 10-wicket win. However, a five-wicket haul each for Kapil Dev and Madan Lal set up India’s win by 138 runs in December 1981.

West Indies legend Courtney Walsh has also enjoyed playing in India; he claimed 17 wickets in a mere three Tests, with the best figures of 6/79.


The legendary Fazal Mahmood scripted Pakistan’s first-ever Test win in India in 1951-52 — in only their second Test — with figures of 5/52 and 7/42 in Lucknow to set the trend among visiting fast bowlers.

Lance Klusener’s (8/64) record of best bowling figures in an innings in India, set in November 1996, remained intact for more than two decades, before it was broken by Australian spinner Nathan Lyon (8/50) in early 2017.

In 2004, Australia achieved a pinnacle when they won the ‘final frontier’ — winning a Test series in India — with Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath and Michael Kasprowicz sharing 16 wickets between them on a shocking green-top pitch in Nagpur.

Four years later, South Africa’s pace battery consisting of Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini and Morne Morkel made full use of a surprise green track in Ahmedabad to hand their team a massive win by an innings and 90 runs.

Last but not the least, Mohammed Shami’s debut in Kolkata four years ago with a nine-wicket match-haul announced his arrival on the international stage.

First Published: Nov 20, 2017 19:49 IST