Wriddhiman Saha plays a shot against Sri Lanka in August. Photo: REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
Wriddhiman Saha plays a shot against Sri Lanka in August. Photo: REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
Sri Lankan coach Nic Pothas talks to Upul Tharanga. Photo: REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
Sri Lankan coach Nic Pothas talks to Upul Tharanga. Photo: REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

MUMBAI, India - Sri Lanka have never won a Test in India and with Virat Kohli's men on a run of near-flawless home form the visitors are unlikely to break their duck in a three-match series starting in Kolkata on Thursday.

In a bumper home season, which started in September 2016, India won 10 of 13 Test matches, with their solitary defeat coming against Steve Smith's Australia. Even on home ground Sri Lanka have struggled against India, losing 9-0 across all three formats in July and August.

Under Kohli, the world's top-ranked Test side have won eight consecutive series dating back to 2015, and Sri Lanka look incapable of stopping them from winning a ninth to tie England and Australia for the record for most consecutive Test series wins.

After being hammered at home by India, Sri Lanka then won a two-Test series against Pakistan 2-0 in the United Arab Emirates but subsequently lost all eight limited-overs matches against the same opponents.

Their Test record in India inspires little confidence as they have failed to record a single victory in 17 matches, the last of which was played eight years ago.

Former captain Angelo Mathews and spin spearhead Rangana Herath were the only two current squad members who played a part in that 2009 series and Sri Lanka will lean on them heavily once again.

Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas hopes the players have learned from the recent home series whitewash, but wants them to focus on their own strengths instead of the Indian threat.

"The mistake you can make here is come and be infatuated with the Indian side and concentrate too much on them," Pothas said on the team's arrival in India.

"We know they are a good side. We only played them a month ago. We have to concentrate on our strengths and jobs, and if we can execute them well it will be a challenging series.

"The series against India was a huge learner for us. I also mentioned that if we didn't learn from a very good team then that would have been the biggest error."

While Sri Lanka's bowling attack must find a way to stop the likes of Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara from scoring heavily, their batsmen will have to contend with India's dual spin threat of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

While good news is in short supply for Sri Lanka they will at least be thankful for not having to face 24-year-old all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who is being rested having played non-stop from the ICC Champions Trophy in June.

Many have touted the series against Sri Lanka as a chance to prepare for a tough tour to South Africa at the beginning of next year, but India wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha said the hosts were focused on only one team.

"It's not like the Sri Lanka series is to prepare for South Africa," Saha told reporters. "It's a standalone series. Once this gets over, we will worry about South Africa and the challenge it brings."

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