India’s fielding coach R Sridhar believes that the Galle Test against Sri Lanka in 2015, where India squandered an advantage to lose the game by 63 runs, was a turning point in Indian cricket. It was after that Galle Test that India turned things around and went on to claim the No.1 spot in Tests.
Having failed to win his first three Test as captain, Virat Kohli entered the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle in 2015 with his side being deemed as favourites. It was, in many ways, expected to be a cakewalk and the game was set to oversee Kohli’s first win as Test captain. However, despite taking a 192-run first-innings lead, India remarkably squandered their advantage - thanks to an impeccable 162* from Dinesh Chandimal - and then were embarrassingly bowled out for just 112 in the second innings, falling short of the target by 63 runs.
Recalling that horror defeat, fielding coach R Sridhar labelled the loss as a ‘watershed’ moment in Indian cricket. Sridhar revealed that Kohli & Co. held a two-hour-long get together inside the hotel post the defeat, a session that involved brutal honesty, something that, by his own admission, even left the Sri Lankan team stunned.
“I remember an incident from 2015, when we toured Sri Lanka. It was Virat’s first full Test series as a captain. In Galle, we lost a Test despite maintaining dominance. We should have won that game, but we lost. That afternoon, we had a long chat for almost two hours, the players were absolutely honest in admitting where we went wrong and what we needed to do,” Sridhar told Sportstar.
“We left the dressing room late, and went back to the hotel and had a get-together. The Sri Lankan team and the hotel staff were wondering that how can they have a get-together when they have lost the Test match? But, we had already done the planning for the future. From there, we went on to become No.1 in the world. So, that tour was indeed a watershed moment for Indian cricket.”
The 49-year-old then revealed that something similar happened in the tour of South Africa in 2017, after the defeat in the second Test in Centurion, after which the team held a meeting and bounced back in style to win the Test in Johannesburg. Sridhar revealed how adversity brought the whole team together.
“It also happened in Centurion, when we lost the game and went back to the drawing board, revisited our strategies and then bounced back to win the next Test in Johannesburg. The wicket was very dicey, but we managed to win. There have been quite a few occasions abroad, where we have done this. The adversity brought the boys together.”
India have held the number one ranking in Tests unperturbed since August 2016 and are also currently the runaway leaders in the ongoing ICC World Test Championship.