Top 5 pacers with most wickets in a Test series in Sri Lanka
More often than not subcontinental conditions tend to help the spinners much more than the pacers but there have been various occasions when the quickies have put in exceptional performances even on pitches which were not conducive to their style of bowling.
The Sri Lanka-Australia series will give us a clear picture how important the role of a spinner is in a team especially in Asian conditions. The Australians haven’t found any answer to Sri Lanka’s spinners and they are staring down the barrel and face the prospect of yet another whitewash in the subcontinental conditions.
Australia’s lacklustre performance with the bat has overshadowed the brilliant and hostile bowling by Mitchell Starc who has been unplayable at times in the series so far. Sri Lanka is not a country known to produce fast and bouncy pitches but there have been few occasions when the pacers have given their heart out and produced magical spells in the island nation,
We bring you 5 pace bowlers who have taken the most wickets in a Test series in Sri Lanka
#5 Brett Schultz (South Africa) – 20 wickets (1993) vs Sri Lanka
Proteas pacer Brett Schultz took 20 wickets against Sri Lanka when the South Africans toured the island nation for a 3 match Test series in the year 1993. It was their first ever Asian trip and a historic moment for them.
"We were so new to world cricket, we had no idea what to expect there," Brett Schultz said. "It was a real experience, even though we were limited with what we could do because of the civil war. We stayed at one hotel in Colombo for about five weeks, so there was a bit of cabin fever. The heat and humidity combined with the pitches was the most different thing for us."
His 20 wickets came at an exceptional bowling average of 16.30 and took a best of 5/48 in the series. In was an evenly matched series but the Proteas prevailed in the end by a 1-0 margin.
The Proteas captain Hansie Cronje scored a brilliant century in the 2nd Test and Alan Donald was the 2nd highest wicket-taker in the series with 12 scalps which contributed to the team’s success.
#4 Rumesh Ratnayake (Sri Lanka) – 20 wickets (1985) vs India
India was touring Sri Lanka for a 3 match Test series in the year 1985 and Rumesh Ratnayake was bowling with venom and swung the ball prodigiously. It was his 20 wickets that propelled the Sri Lankans to a 1-0 series win against the mighty Indians.
In the 2nd Test, he bagged 9 wickets as Sri Lanka notched up a rare Test win and their first ever series victory. In a match where India looked set to draw the match, Ratnayake swung the match in Sri Lanka’s favour by running through the middle order. Kapil Dev scored a resilient 76 but when he looked set to take India to a draw Ratnayake dived to take a smart return catch to dismiss the Indian captain and hand Sri Lanka a historic win. The next day was declared a public holiday in Sri Lanka.
#3 Mitchell Starc ( Australia)- 24 wickets (2016)* vs Sri Lanka
In a series where Australia has been steamrolled Mitchell Starc has been the only bright spot. The left-arm quick has already picked up 22 wickets in the series so far with one more innings to go. His inswinging yorkers have been unplayable at times and the Sri Lankans have found the going very tough against the champion fast bowler.
He picked up Dimuth Karunaratne for the 5th consecutive time in the 1st innings of the 3rd Test and his hostile spell left the hosts reeling at 26/5 before Dhananjay de Silva and Dinesh Chandimal stitched together a valuable double century partnership to bail the Lankans out of trouble. Starc finished the innings with another five-wicket haul.
Despite the Sri Lankan spinners bagging 35 wickets within themselves, Mitchell Starc has been the highest wicket-taker in the series so far.
#2 Richard Hadlee (New Zealand) – 23 wickets (1984) vs Sri Lanka
New Zealand was touring Sri Lanka for a 3-match Test series with Sir Richard Hadlee was at his imperious best. The Sri Lankan batsmen were clueless with his brilliant swing bowling. Courtesy his terrific bowling the Kiwis bagged the 3 match series by a 2-0 margin.
His immaculate line and length and prodigious swing were enough to derail the Sri Lankan batsmen as they surrendered 23 wickets to Hadlee in the series. He ended the series with an exceptional average of 10 and best figures of 5/29.
Apart from Hadlee, John Reid also played a vital role in New Zealand winning the 3rd Test. He scored a magnificent 180 before Hadlee had bowled out the Sri Lankans cheaply in the 1st innings.
#1 Chaminda Vaas (Sri Lanka)- 26 wickets (2001) vs West Indies
Sri Lankan left-arm pacer Chaminda Vaas holds the record for most number of wickets in a Test series in Sri Lanka when the West Indies toured the island nation for a 3 match series in the year 2001. It was a brilliant performance by the left arm quick that enabled the Sri Lankans to whitewash the West Indies 3-0.
Vaas picked up 6 wickets in the first Test and followed it up with even better performances in the following 2 Tests bagging 20 wickets. Brian Lara fought hard with a brilliant double century in the 2nd Test but didn’t get enough support from the other end. Muttiah Muralitharan was the other bowler who picked up a bagful of wickets to derail the West Indies batting line up to hand Sri Lanka a famous 3-0 victory.