In 17 Test matches going back to 1982 Sri Lanka have not won a single match in India.

India have won ten while seven have been drawn and this fact alone will indicate the tough task the islanders face as they commence their latest tour of this country which starts with three Tests.

For all the positive talk that the South African born Sri Lankan coach Nic Pothas or the visiting captain Dinesh Chandimal touched upon on their arrival here the visitors can be rated as no-hopers in the Test series which gets underway in Kolkata on Thursday. As a crumb of comfort they can perhaps notch up the odd win in the limited overs contests that follow.

Just a couple of months ago the Indians achieved a unique clean sweep of the three Test series in Sri Lanka where the home team has more than held their own. Since then Sri Lanka have been encouraged by the fact that they won both Tests against Pakistan in the Middle East a seemingly neutral country in which Pakistan have an excellent record. There is little doubt that this is a considerable feat but then beating Pakistan in the -Gulf and getting the better of India in India are two very different propositions.

In the first place there is the remarkable run of the Indians particularly at home. Pothas was quick to emphasize this factor when he said on arrival that ''not many teams come here and win.’’

The Virat Kohli led team is on a hot streak the kind of which the Indian cricket team has probably never experienced before. The batsmen have been among the runs, the bowlers have picked up wickets by the bucketful and there is an invincible look about the home team.

Their confidence level is sky high and there are hardly any weaknesses. Indeed if anything there is an embarrassment of riches right down the line with opening batsmen, middle order batsmen, pace bowlers and spin bowlers waiting in the queue to get in if any of the regulars go through a lean patch. The bench strength of this Indian squad is a frightening thought for any opposition let alone the regular line-up.

Secondly the Sri Lankans just do not have the team to register a shock victory over the No 1 ranked Test team (for the record Sri Lanka are No 6). They do have a couple of players who have a proven record and two or three more with fairly rich experience. But as any visiting player knows bowling to the powerful Indian batting line-up or negotiating the Indian spinners in home conditions can be quite a difficult task to put it mildly.

And these days the pace bowlers are sharing the wickets with the spinners so the bowling line-up is as good as the batting. Much would depend on a few players like the captain, Angelo Mathews, Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera and how well these cricketers perform could well determine whether India make a clean sweep of the Test series or whether Sri Lanka are able to salvage some pride.

The disparity between the teams is wide and clear so much so that Pothas touched upon this aspect the other day when he said that the mistake is to come to this country and be ''infatuated’’ with the Indian side and concentrate too much on them. In a way he was admitting the huge gulf between the teams.

Both the coach and the captain have also harped on the point that they have learnt from their mistakes in the previous contest against India, that they know what areas they have to improve upon and that they are an ''internally transformed’’ side. ''If we execute our plans well it will be a challenging series’’ said Pothas. But when you take on India in India that is a very big ''if’’.

All indications point out to another lopsided series with India emerging easy winners. There should be runs aplenty again for the batsmen while the bowlers should continue to pick up wickets by the bucketful. The one thing that they have to guard against is complacency but the present set of Indian cricketers are as ruthless and professional as one can get in the international game.