The great Test teams of West Indies and Australia in the past would not only win, but continue to dominate series after series for years on end. That is where the great Indian Test teams have faltered. They are usually happy with a couple of great series wins and let their guard down immediately after.
In the past we have simply collapsed after gaining the No. 1 ICC Test rankings. The best example is the 0-8 overseas Test debacle after the high of the 2011 ODI World Cup win.
We are on another dream run now and have won seven straight Test series on the trot. While all of them have been in the sub-continent, it is an achievement all the same. The last we lost a Test series was the one that began in Australia way back in December 2014. Our winning streak has included tough home series against Australia (we won 2-1), South Africa (3-0) and England (4-0).
That is why we are currently the number one ranked team by a mile. But can we continue our domination with Sri Lanka which is ranked a lowly seventh, just ahead of West Indies and Bangladesh?
Sri Lanka has always been a competitive team and had its share of superstars, just like India. But right now it is looking a shadow of its former self. The Lankans failed to make any impact in the ICC Champions trophy and lost to Zimbabwe in a recent ODI series!
In Tests Sri Lanka hasn’t been doing that great either. It lost the last home series it played with both India and Pakistan. Bangladesh actually won the first Test it played in Sri Lanka earlier in this year and the hosts could at best tie the series after that.
If you look at the Sri Lanka Playing XI with Zimbabwe (their last one-off Test before the India series), then it’s a quite an inexperienced team with nobody having played more than 100 Tests. Only all-rounder Angelo Mathews and bowler Rangana Herath have played more than 50 Tests and no batsman has crossed that milestone.
That inexperience showed when they barely managed a win against Zimbabwe and could have well lost had a little luck gone the other way.
All the legends of Sri Lanka have retired one by one and so far absolutely nobody has been able to fill their shoes. So can India dream of a 3-0 and their first back to back Test series victories on Sri Lankan soil?
Lankan batting legend, former President of Sri Lanka Cricket and current central minister Arjuna Ranatunga has also done the morale of the team no good by alleging that the 2011 World Cup final was fixed. That casts a shadow on the retired legends and he has asked for a probe.
If Australia and South Africa had been in a similar position, you could definitely put your money on a whitewash, but the Indians are a bit more unpredictable. There was a huge chasm between the Indian and Pakistani teams in the ICC Champions Trophy final and yet we got royally walloped all the same.
However a collapse on any given day happens to even the best of teams and here India and Sri Lanka will battle over 15 days (three Tests) so we can overcome an occasional collapse and still manage to dominate the series.
Virat Kohli is in the Test form of his life and will be eager to get the debacle of the CT final behind him. From 1985 to 2014, we had won just one Test series on Lankan soil. Kohli only became the second captain after Mohammed Azharuddin to do so in 2015. Now can he do it again in 2017? That would be some feat.
KL Rahul is back in the squad while Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have been back among the runs and our wild cards are Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma.
One hopes Rohit finally fires and if he does, then the Lankan bowlers will stand no chance. Dhawan is also an attacking batsman and will be keen to get back among the runs. Ravichandran Ashwin and Sir Ravindra Jadeja always dominate on the pitches of the sub-continent. Our pace attack may still be a bit inexperienced, but so is the Lankan one and we can still hope to better them.
This will be the first big test of new Head Coach Ravi Shastri. We have been doing great in bilateral series and nothing less than a comprehensive series win will do it this time. Can the new Kohli-Shastri duo begin with a bang? The opportunity certainly is there in Sri Lanka.