Galle International Stadium: Pitch Report
Ends: City End, Fort End
Home Team: Galle Cricket Club
Test History: 30 Tests; 18 home wins; 6 away wins; 6 draws
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.
The curator of the Galle ground was suspended recently after he appeared in a documentary aired by Al Jazeera that implicated him in pitch doctoring.
Last Time Out
It took Sri Lanka just three days to shred the Proteas here earlier this season. Sri Lanka won the toss and batting ifrst were kept afloat by an immense 158 not out from Dimuth Karunatne who dominated a first innings effort of 287.
The Proteas were knocked over for just 126 with Dilruwan Perera and Suranga Lakmal doing the bulk of the damage with the ball.
Sri Lanka’s second innings showed how the pitch was breaking down as they were knocked over for 190, chasing 352 runs to win the Proteas were bowled out for just 73 as Perera claimed another six to clinch a ten-wicket match haul.
Sri Lanka allrounder Roshen Silva commented ahead of the Test against South Africa: “We know that the Galle wicket is generally suitable for spinners. We haven’t had a chance to take a look at the wicket here as it has been under covers most of the time. We will take a look tomorrow morning and then will decide on how to move forward”
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 1061.
Herath has an excellent record at Galle having taken 99 wickets in 18 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.
Warm and humid with a high possibility of thundershowers throughout the Test.
The Galle surface is traditionally spin friendly but the weather in the build up to the Test has apparently left everyone uncertain exactly how it will play. Conventional wisdom tends towards big turn though.
Teams winning the toss here generally bat first.
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