Watch: Nilesh Kulkarni takes wicket with his first ball in Test cricket ahead of India’s two-day wicket drought
Watch: At R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo in 1997, Nilesh Kulkarni became the first Indian to take a wicket with his first ball in Test cricket.,
Kulkarni did not get a chance to bat at Premadasa in India’s innings of 537-8, an innings spanning nearly all of the first two days as Navjot Sidhu made 111, Sachin Tendulkar 143, and Mohammad Azharuddin 126.
There was little respite for the Sri Lankan bowlers. As their Indian counterparts would find out, worse awaited them.
Sri Lanka had to negotiate about a quarter of an hour’s cricket on the second evening. Venkatesh Prasad and Abey Kuruvilla failed to break through, as did the senior spinners, Rajesh Chauhan and Anil Kumble. Azharuddin summoned Kulkarni for the last over of the day.
At six foot four, Kulkarni was one of the tallest specialist spinners to play for India. From that height, he tossed up his first ball outside off-stump. Marvan Atapattu went for an expansive drive but could only manage to edge it to the big gloves of Nayan Mongia.
And Kulkarni became the 15th cricketer and first Indian to take a wicket with his first ball in men’s Test cricket.
The wicket also ended the day’s play. India got another wicket only on the fifth day, when Roshan Mahanama fell for 225, helping Sanath Jayasuriya put on 576, at that point a world record for any wicket. Jayasuriya (340) fell on the same score.
But Sri Lanka were in mood to declare. Aravinda de Silva made 126, Arjuna Ranatunga 86, and a debutant Mahela Jayawardene 66 as they amassed 952-6 – still the highest team total in Test cricket.
Chauhan finished with 1-276, Kumble 1-223, and Kulkarni 1-195. From three Tests, Kulkarni finished with two wickets at 166 apiece, picking up Matthew Hayden in his final match, at Chennai in 2000/01.
However, he had more than impressive numbers in ODIs (11 wickets at 32.45) and first-class cricket (357 wickets at 24.89).