On this day, Virender Sehwag became only the second Indian batsman to carry his bat through in Tests. The right-handed opener slammed a 231-ball 201* against a formidable Sri Lankan bowling attack and single-handedly led India to a solid first-innings total in the second Test at Galle. Sehwag scored over 60 percent of the total runs in the first essay, and then managed a fifty in the second innings to help India win the match by 170 runs and level the series 1-1.
The year was 2008 and Ajantha Mendis was the flavour of the month. The mystery spinner demolished India in the final of the 2008 Asia Cup and a few months later, when India toured Sri Lanka for three Tests and five ODIs, the Indian batsmen once again looked clueless against him. India were thumped in the first Test by an innings and 239 runs, courtesy Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan. The two spinners picked up 19 wickets in the first Test and had the Indian batsmen dancing to their tunes.
Only 44.3 overs were possible on the first day of the second Test but it was enough for Sehwag to make an impact. India got off to a superb and rapid start with Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir adding 167 runs in 31.5 overs. The latter just focused on strike rotation and it was Sehwag who did all the damage.
The dynamic opener batted at a strike rate of over 91 against Mendis and smashed him all around the park. The right-hander smoked 22 fours and four maximums during his stay in the middle and both Mendis and Muralitharan didn't know what hit them. The two spinners just couldn't get him out but they found a way around him, dismissing most of the others cheaply.
After Mendis got rid of Gambhir for 56, India lost Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly in the space of two overs. Sehwag finally got some support from VVS Laxman who dug his heels at one end and allowed Sehwag to do his things. The two added 100 runs for the fifth wicket but it was Sehwag who scored the majority of the runs.
Laxman was dismissed for 39 and then not one of the remaining batsmen could get into double digits. Sehwag however carried on and completed his fifth double century in the longest format of the game. He got to the landmark with No. 11 Ishant Sharma at the other end and the moment Sehwag got past the 200-run mark, the latter fell prey to Mendis, becoming his sixth victim. Sehwag became only the second Indian batsman after Sunil Gavaskar (127* v Pakistan, 1983) to carry his bat in Test cricket.
Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble then took over and bundled out Sri Lanka for 292, giving India a 37-run lead. In the second innings, Sehwag smashed a 52-ball 50 as India set Sri Lanka a 307-run target. It was Harbhajan who once again did most of the damage in the final innings and finished with 10 wickets to his name, as Sri Lanka were bowled out for just 136.
India were beaten convincingly in the final Test and lost the series 2-1. Mendis claimed eight wickets in that match and finished the series with 26 wickets at 18.38. Meanwhile, Sehwag managed 344 runs at 68.8 in six innings and was India's highest run-getter. India however did manage to win the ODI series 3-2.
After Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Cheteshwar Pujara have been the only two Indian batsmen who have managed to carry their bat. While Dravid did it against England at the Oval in 2011, Pujara managed to do it against South Africa at Johannesburg in 2018.