ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2019
Sri Lanka haven’t beaten Australia in a World Cup game since 1996. © Cricbuzz
June 11, 1975 :Underdogs Sri Lanka give a good account of themselves
The Oval might have been placid, but the Australian bowling combo of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson was anything but that. And the poor Sri Lankans – without even Test status at that stage – were mere targets of their hostility. Fearing precisely this, skipper Anura Tennekoon opted to bowl first in his quest to not let the Aussie quicks utilize the freshness of the wicket. But the batsmen made merry, first with a 182-run opening stand which included an Alan Turner century, before fifties from Doug Walters and Greg Chappell lifted them to a whopping 328 for 5 in their 60 overs.
Although behind in the already-beyond-them chase, the Lankans started off bravely, weathering the early Lillee-Thomson storm. Duleep Mendis and Sunil Wettimuny – at 150 for 2 in 32 overs – ensured the asking rate never went out of control. But Thomson returned in his second spell, not to pick wickets, but to injure. And injure he did, Mendis was struck on the head by a brute of a bouncer and Wettimuny was the victim of a broken toe, thanks to two yorkers hitting the same spot, with both of them having to retire out. Although the batsmen after that too got decent starts, they slipped to a 52-run defeat. Their abundance of courage made sure the world sat up and took notice.
March 7, 1992:Australia stay alive with big win
Sri Lanka in 1992 were meant to be the minnows, and Australia the home bullies. The match lived up to it’s billing with the tiny islanders being no match. Inserted in to bat on a quick wicket, the Lankans were over-cautious in their approach all through. After losing two quick wickets, Athula Samarasekara and Aravinda de Silva steadied things with a 44-run stand and then Arjuna Ranatunga joined de Silva for another 51-run stand. Alas, just when either were expected to up the ante, a wicket fell, derailing the innings further, that finished for an underwhelming 189, something that included four run-outs.The Aussies then went about their chase with utter professionalism, with the openers Tom Moody and Geoff Marsh getting to their respective half-centuries, before Mark Waugh and David Boon got them home with breezy twenties.
February 17, 1996:Colombo shame as Australia forfeit match
In one of the rare forfeits in international cricket, Australia refused to tour Sri Lanka on grounds of security concerns on the back of a ghastly suicide terrorist attack in Colombo that affected around 1500 people. As a result of this, Australia had to concede their two points from the league stage to Sri Lanka, something that played a key role in them advancing to the quarter finals
March 17, 1996:Sweet revenge as Sri Lanka arrive in style
There are big ways to announce your arrival to the world, and then there is this. 21 years after playing in the big league, Sri Lanka pulled off one of the biggest upsets on the world stage. Things however weren’t that rosy when the Aussies were off to a flier – 137 for 1 in 27 overs – before Aravinda de Silva decided the day was his. He got Mark Taylor sweeping, Ricky Ponting cutting and then returned to clean up Ian Healy, capping the outing with two catches on the field as well. Nevertheless, Australia had a formidable 241 and Sri Lanka had the pressure of a final to deal with in the chase as well.
The start wasn’t ideal, with the heroes until that point – Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana – falling cheaply. But de Silva’s magic wasn’t done yet, notching up only the then third century in a World Cup final, with Asanka Gurusinha and skipper Arjuna Ranatunga, giving him good company. The dew was generous in its help as well, refusing to let the spinners, Warne and Mark Waugh, to get a grip on the ball, and the fielders messed up further with four dropped chances. In the end, 1996 was Sri Lanka’s Cup and cricket in the sub-continent was never the same again.
March 7, 2003:Ponting’s hundred leads Lankan ambush
Perhaps the most one-sided contests in this rivalry in World Cups, Ricky Ponting’s century and Brett Lee’s thunderbolts ensured an emphatic 96-run win for the Aussies in their opening Super Six clash. Having chosen to bat, Adam Gilchrist set the tempo, smashing his way to a fifty and then once run-out on 99, Ponting, a sedate partner until that point took over and with Damien Martyn giving good company, set the Lankans a target of 320. A decent start was mandatory, but Lee was having none of that, first breaking the thumb of their star batsman, Sanath Jayasuriya, and then bursting through the top-order with three wickets in nine deliveries as Sri Lanka collapsed losing four wickets for six runs. Aravinda de Silva was the only one who managed to show some resistance with a 92 as the spinners then joined the act to clean up the rest of the batting.
March 18, 2003:Australia into another final after convincing win
Well and truly on their way to invincibility in that generation, the Aussies romped home and into the finals, handing out another thrashing, although the rain did come in to make it look much better than what it eventually was for the Sri Lankans. It’s not that the Lankans didn’t have their moments though. Gilchrist started off with a bang and then in a moment of sudden truth-awakening decided to walk and deem himself out after nicking a sweep to the keeper. Chaminda Vaas, with his nippy left-armers, was the wrecker to begin with, edging out Ponting and Hayden. It was down to Andrew Symonds – with a 91 – in the end, who steadied the innings with Darren Lehmann to ensure something respectable was on the board.
212 seemed par, but it was Brett Lee once again, carrying on his form from the Super Six encounter when these two sides met, with three top-order wickets as the Lankans were reduced to 76 for seven. Although Sangakkara and Vaas did add some vital runs before the rains arrived, it was all too little, all too late, handing over a 48-run victory on DLS.
April 16, 2007:Weakened Sri Lanka handed proper thrashing
They’re often too good on even your best days, but Sri Lanka, having made it to the semis, were happy to rest their two biggest trump cards – Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan – against an Aussie juggernaut who just wouldn’t lose. Put in to bowl, Nathan Bracken made full use of the morning swing, finishing with figures of four for 19 in 9.4 overs, and apart from the 140-run stand between Mahela Jayawardene and Chamara Silva, there was nothing really in the Sri Lankan batting as they finished with a rather dismal 226. The Aussie batsmen then made merry, first with a 76-run opening stand and then with Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds scoring respective 60s to see them home with over seven overs to spare.
April 28, 2007:Australia complete hat-trick in farcical finale
A stunning Gilchrist century and a fourth World Cup title – third successive one – but sadly, it’s a final that would be remembered for the farcical scenarios under dark skies in which it was played out. So it started with Gilchrist smashing the cricket ball to all corners of the park, and then pointing to a squash ball he’d kept in his gloves. It started with a 172-run stand with Hayden, whose contribution was all of 38, and then in a 52-run stand with Ponting as he finished on 149 off just 104 balls, setting a target of 282. The Sangakkara-Jayasuriya stand did keep the Lankans in the hunt, but alas, when Brad Hogg broke that stand, there wasn’t much of a fight from the rest of the order.
Eventually with rain breaks reducing the match to a 38-over contest and bad light coming in when the equation was down to an unlikely 63 runs being needed off 18 balls, Sri Lanka accepted the offer for light and walked off, leaving behind wild Aussie celebrations. But umpire Aleem Dar stopped the celebrations, sent back the groundsmen erecting readying up for the presentations and was even indicated that the players might have to come back the next day. However under absolute darkness, play resumed for three overs with Lankans blocking and handing over an eventual 53-run win for a second Australian celebration of the evening.
March 5, 2011:Rain has the final say
All of 32.4 overs could be possible on a torrential afternoon in Colombo, where Sri Lanka won a very important toss and batted first on what was a classified rank turner. Playing to tap into the spin-weakness of the Australians, skipper Kumar Sangakkara led from the front with a neat 73 and with Sri Lanka looking good at 146 for three and looking primed for a target of over 250, the clouds opened up, never to stop again for the day.
March 8, 2015:Maxwell stars in big scoring game
Everything seemed to going along smoothly, with Steven Smith and Michael Clarke going about their business at just under a run-a-ball as Australia – having opted to bat first on a flat deck – were aiming to go past 300. But Glenn Maxwell couldn’t have chosen a better time to unleash a carnage and with Shane Watson in a 13.4 overs stand, smashed 160 runs en route his maiden ODI century. Australia all of a sudden had 376 on the board. Kumar Sangakkara wasn’t going to let go without a fight though. Scoring his third consecutive century and batting in the form of his life, he kept Sri Lanka in the hunt all through, first with a 130-run stand for the second wicket with Tilakaratne Dilshan and then with a useful contributions from Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews. Once he fell, Chandimal upped the ante, scoring a fifty off just 22 balls, but when he retired out to a painful hamstring, it triggered a collapse that led them to a point of no return.