Team Sri Lanka at Cricket World Cup

Team Sri Lanka squad for ICC Cricket World Cup 2015:

Angelo Mathews (captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dinesh Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Jeevan Mendis, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Dhammika Prasad, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Sachithra Senanayake, Lasith Malinga.

Team Sri Lanka performances in Cricket World Cups:

"1996 Cricket World Cup win changed the way cricket was played in Sri Lanka", rightly said winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga recently in an event. Let us see how the team fared in each of the Cricket World Cups they featured in.

Sri Lanka has played in all the World Cup editions so far. They have played 66 ODI matches in cricket world cup history - won 31 and lost 31. One was a tie and two ended without any result. 

In 1975 World Cup, Sri Lanka played without a test status along with East Africa. Very new entrants into the cricketing world, they couldn't manage to impress at all. They played three matches in Group B and lost all of them! In their first match against West Indies, they were bowled out for 86! Their dismal performance continued throughout the matches of Group B and they faced a very early exit.

In 1979 World Cup, Sri Lanka played in Group B with West Indies, New Zealand and India. We saw some improvement in the team's performance as they managed to upset India with a big win at Old Trafford. Batting first Srilanka scored 238 for 5. In reply Indian team was bowled out for 191! Overall Srilanka won one, lost one and one match against West Indies ended without any result. Another early exit from the biggest cricketing event.

In 1983, placed under Group A with England, Pakistan and New Zealand - Srilanka could win just one out of their six matches. The only victory came against New Zealand on 18th June 1983 at County ground, Derby.

In 1987, playing in the Indian sub-continent; the fans out there on the island had some better expectations from the team. But this resulted in a heart breaking world cup for Sri Lankan fans. The team played six matches in Group B and lost all of them!

In 1992, the team was still establishing its existence in world cricket. So it was again harsh to expect too much from the team. Out of the eight matches they played, two wins brought some cheer to the team. 23rd February 1992 at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth in New Zealand - Srilanka defeated Zimbabwe by 3 wickets. Those days it was a treat to see a team scoring 300 plus and the other team chasing it down. Zimbabwe scored 312/4 (Andy Flower smashed 115). In reply Sri Lanka chased the target with four balls to spare. Ranatunga scored 88 in 61 balls!

In 1996, the team had some different plans that no one ever imagined. The likes of Sanath Jayasuriya, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Aravinda de Silva, Roshan Mahanama, Arjuna Ranatunga and many more to name went all guns blazing against the bowlers (especially in the first 15 overs with field restrictions). Cricket world observed pure carnage when they smashed variety of bowlers all over the parks. The team was coached by Dave Whatmore and led by Arjuna Ranatunga. Just to give you all an example of their strategy - Sri Lanka smashed 117 in first 15 overs against India, 121 against England, 123 against Kenya and 398 for 5 in 50 overs against Kenya (highest team total record that stayed till mid 2006).

Sri Lanka were placed in Group A with Australia, India, West Indies, Zimbabwe and Kenya. Australia and West Indies forfeited their matches due to safety concerns! That gave Srilanka a huge benefit. Plus their extraordinary performances took them to the top of the table after Group Stage. Played five and won five!

Sri Lanka faced England in the quarter finals at Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad. England managed 235/8. In reply Jayasuriya smashed 82 runs from 44 balls. Sri Lanka cruised to victory with 9.2 overs left. 

Then came the semi-finals that Indian fans would never forget. Sri Lanka scored 251 for 8 at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata on 13th March 1996. In reply Indian wickets fell like a pack of cards. Indian score was 120 for 8 after 34.1 overs. The spectators got furious and a section of them started throwing bottles onto the field. Even fires were lit in the stand! Ultimately the match referee Clive Lloyd handed over victory to Sri Lanka. 

Sri Lanka faced the favourites Australia in the finals at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on 17th March 1996. Australia were put into bat by Sri Lanka. A brilliant 74 from Mark Taylor took Australia to 241 for 7. Aravinda de Silva clinched 3/42 and he was not over yet! It was his day and Australia had to face the Aravinda music whole day! He scored 107 and took Srilanka home with their first every Cricket World Cup win. He was awarded Man of the Match whereas Sanath Jayasuriya won the Man of the Series award. That embarked on Sri Lanka's dominance in world of cricket for atleast next three years.

In 1999, Sri Lanka placed in Group A failed to make a mark. Played five matches, won two and lost three - eliminated so soon! Their worst performance came against India where they lost by 157 runs! India hammered Lankan bowlers for 373 runs. In reply, the Sri Lankan team was bundled out for 216 runs only. 

In 2003, Sri Lanka led the Pool B points tally with 18 points out of six matches. They won four, lost one and one tied. Hard to believe but their only loss came against Kenya! They did pretty well to pass through the Super Six stage and reach the semis. They lost to Australia by 48 runs (Duckworth and Lewis method) at Port Elizabeth semi final on 18th March 2003. 

In 2007, Sri Lanka topped Group B table and advanced to the Super Eights. Four wins out of six matches in Super Eights took them to the knock outs! They defeated New Zealand comprehensively in the first semi finals at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica. They met Australia in the finals at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown. The rain affected match was reduced to 38 overs a side. Batting first Australia feasted on Sri Lankan bowlers scoring 281/4. Things looked in Sri Lanka's control till the time Sangakkara and Jayasuriya were on crease. They added 116 valuable runs. But after them wickets fell at regular intervals. The match ended in complete darkness and finally Australia won by 53 runs (Duckworth and Lewis method).

In 2011, Sri Lanka stood second in Group A below Pakistan. They registered huge wins against Kenya, Canada, Zimbabwe and New Zealand. Their match against Australia was abandoned and they lost one to Pakistan. Advancing into the quarter finals they registered a 10 wicket win over England. In semi final against New Zealand at Colombo, they won comprehensively by five wickets.

Sri Lanka met India in the finals at Wankhede Stadium Mumbai on 2nd April 2011. Sri Lanka elected to bat first and posted a decent 274 on board. Jayawardene smashed 103 off 88 balls! In reply India lost Sehwag early. But Gautam Gambhir and Dhoni later steered India to a big win with six wickets in hand. Sri Lanka missed out yet again in a World Cup final! India clinched their second world cup title.

Recently Sri Lanka has done a good job in Australia especially in the ODI matches. So they are one of the front runners to lift the trophy in Australia and New Zealand. Hopefully we see another set of competitive performances from the Sri Lankan team in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

By Tejas Thakkar

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