When official scorer slipped into coma

By Balakumar K Published on Nov 16, 2017 03:55 PM IST

India-Sri Lanka encounters have the record for the most bizarre records

Chennai, Nov 16: The India - Sri Lanka cricket series... oh no! don’t sleep now itself.

An India-Sri Lanka cricket series is supposed to have begun somewhere today, or at least that is what we are told. For all we know, it might be an ongoing series between the two teams that people are noticing only now. There is no way of telling, as nobody, this includes the players too, stays awake till the end to know what happens in cricketing encounters between the two nations.

In any given year, there are more cricketing encounters between the two nations on the calendar than the number of days on the same calendar. So the cricket public has become pretty blase to what happens between the two teams.

But truth be told, India-Sri Lanka series has generally created some incredible records in the past.

This from the Wisden Almanack of 1997: “Staying with bore-fests, the first Test in Colombo between Sri Lanka and India in August 1997 is quite remarkable for it was played over three different climatic seasons. During it, Sri Lanka became the first Test team to score over 1000 in an innings. But unfortunately the official scorer failed to notify it on the official score-sheet as he had slipped into deep coma when the score was at 952, which still remains a record.”

And this week, Crank’s News sports desk crammed over the numbers that the cricketing contests between the two teams are believed to have thrown up. Some of the records may seem that we have made them up. But you can never say anything with conviction, and that is the beauty of any match between the two teams, as all the five results being always possible (A: India win, B: Sri Lanka win, C: Draw, D: Tie, E: The match adjourned sine die).

◊ The very first Test between the two nations hit the headlines with one of the most interesting records. In the words of Sri Lankan journalist Karunakara Karunathilaka Kushal Kapage, “the f i r s t three-and half days of first Test India and Sri Lanka were completely washed out by the singing of full Sri Lankan national anthem”.

◊ The double century partnership between Duleep Mendis and Arjuna Ranatunga, two of the finest batsmen that the island nation has produced, in the second Test at Colombo in 1985, “is the highest for any wicket by two batsmen, each weighing over 100 kg”.

◊ In the same innings, Arjuna Ranatunga’s 158 runs comprised, as the legendary Bill Frindall noted in his memoir, “16 boundaries, two sixers, nine 2s and plenty of walks for singles”.

◊ Sri Lanka opening pace bowlers Ravi Ratnayake and Rumesh Ratnayake were the first pair of pace bowlers in the world to share, Cricket Ceylon adroitly noted, “beside the new ball, their second name too”. (For the record, as per Sri Lanka’s Youth Sports Policy, if you are born a Jayawardane or Mendis, you get a direct entry into Sri Lankan U-19 national team.)

◊ Chaminda Vaas was once detained by the Customs authorities at the Kolkata airport because the airline (the now defunct Deccan Airlines) “couldn’t accommodate him as well as his name”. The passenger manifest with his full name “is longer than War and Peace”, the airline later said, and duly filed for insolvency.

◊ In 2003, the Test match at Kandy is said to have been played on the most monstrous ‘turner’ ever. To give a sense of what the pitch was like, here is what the Sri Lankan commentator Ranjith Fernando, later said: “the Indians were prepared for a turning wicket. But what they weren’t ready for a wicket that spun even before a ball was bowled. When the two captains went out for the toss, Mahela Jayawardane (who was leading Sri Lanka) did not even have to flip the coin. He just put the coin on the pitch, and it began to whirl viciously. Sourav Ganguly immediately understood what lay in store and smartly changed his plans for the Test, which was to immediately cut hotel booking from 5 days to 4?

◊ Sri Lanka’s umpiring standards in the early years of its cricket were a bit dicey. During India’s tour in 1985, India’s mercurial Sadanand Vishwanath was given out ‘hit wicket’, when he was carrying the stumps as souvenir post-match. “We might have erred on the side of stringency,” the umpire Gunatilake was later quoted as saying.

◊ The first Test between India and Sri Lanka, beginning today at Kolkata is the 92nd encounter between the two teams across the three formats of the game, since 2009. This is the highest number of matches between any two national teams. The previous record of 91 matches belonged, incidentally, to the same two teams. And the record stood till last night.