Pitch Report: Galle
Ends: City End, Fort End
Home Team: Galle Cricket Club
Test History: 28 Tests; 17 home wins; 5 away wins; 6 draws
Last 10 Tests: 7 home wins; 2 away wins; 1 draw
Last 10 tosses: 10 batted first (8 wins, 2 loss)
Rated as one of the most picturesque grounds in world cricket, the Galle International Stadium is cornered on two sides by the ocean – and overseen by a 16th century Dutch fort. After making its Test debut in 1998, the ground was largely destroyed by the horrific tsunami which struck the region in December 2004.
With politics at boardroom level of Sri Lankan Cricket casting doubt over the ground’s future, it took donations from the likes of Ian Botham and Shane Warne – who had taken his 500th Test wicket here – to get the stadium’s redevelopment back on track.
It eventually completed its recovery in December 2007, when England took on Sri Lanka in the 12th Test to be played at the stadium.
Before the disaster Galle had been a stronghold for Sri Lanka, who had only lost to Australia and Pakistan as the spin-friendly pitch worked in the hosts’ favour.
Not surprisingly, then, Galle has been a successful venue for the veteran Muttiah Muralitharan. The ground will be remembered as the venue of the off-spinner’s 133rd and final Test match, a game in which he claimed a match haul of eight wickets to end his career with a record 800 Test scalps.
Last Time Out
Bangladesh were blown away by a massive century from Kusal Mendis who fell just short of a maiden Test double hundred.
There was another ton in their second innings from Upul Tharanga and the damage done with the ball was unsurprisingly inflicted largely by Rangana Herath.
Australia spinner Jon Holland said he would look to emulate Herath in Galle last year: “He just bowls on the spot and knows how to subtly change his spin and variations and pace and that sort of thing. I think just about every time he bowls the ball it’s hitting the stumps, which is a big positive. I try to take a bit of that on board and try to do the same as that.”
Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim said ahead of the Test in March: “We are ready to face a hard time, and I hope we can be competitive for the whole game, and not just three or four days.”
Happy Hunting Ground
The top two run-scorers at the ground are two Sri Lanka legends, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who both have more than 1800 runs at the venue, but are long retired.
Of the current crop of batsman former skipper Angelo Mathews has scored the most runs in Galle at 940.
Herath has an excellent record at Galle having taken 93 wickets in 16 matches so far, which is the second most at the venue behind only the legendary Muttiah Muralitharan, who, for the record, took 111 wickets in 15 games.
Shikhar Dhawan leads the way for India’s current squad members having hit 162 runs in two innings at the venue including his last Test century.
Ravichandran Ashwin claimed ten wickets at Galle on his last visit and is likely to make merry on the turning surface.
Warm and humid with a high possibility of thundershowers as the Test wears on.
The Galle surface is traditionally spin friendly but with Sri Lanka set to face a team equally adept at the slow stuff it will be interesting to see what they do with the surface.
It’s unlikely that the team winning the toss will do anything other than bat first.
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