The only time Sri Lanka beat Australia in a World Cup game

Classic World Cup Moments


Since the inaugural edition of the Cricket World Cup in 1975, Sri Lanka and Australia have met each other on nine occasions and the Sri Lankans have won just one game. The Aussies have a stunning 87.5 win percentage against the Sri Lankans having won seven of those nine encounters.

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The group fixture of the 2011 tournament at RPS ended in no result due to rain. So, in World Cups, Australia have lost just one game to Sri Lanka and to Mark Taylor’s bad luck, it came in a World Cup final. That win remains the most memorable one in the annals of Sri Lankan sporting history.

Australia are the only team to win cricket’s showpiece event on five occasions. They also achieved the grand triple by winning the 1999, 2003 and 2007 editions.

Of the 84 World Cup games they have played, Aussies have won 62. That is a win percentage of more than 75 percent, quite remarkable. South Africa are second best but only with a win percentage of 65 percent and their record in knockouts is awful.

Sri Lanka had little chance in the inaugural edition in 1975 against Ian Chappell’s side but went down fighting, losing the contest by 52 runs. For the next three editions – 1979, 1983 and 1987 – these teams did not meet each other.

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Their next meeting took place in 1992 at the Adelaide Oval with Alan Border’s side being defending champions. Australia cruised to a seven wicket win with the openers making half-centuries and adding 120 for the first wicket. Both players went onto coach Sri Lanka – Tom Moody and Geoff Marsh.

After the epic 1996 final, the teams then met in 2003 on two occasions – during the Super Six stage and the semi-finals, both games the Aussies won comprehensively.

Then again in 2007 they would meet twice; in the second round and in the grand final and Australia continued their unbeaten run.

The 2011 encounter at RPS could have made a difference for the Sri Lankans. On a slow turner, they had included three specialist spinners in Muttiah Muralitharan, Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis and had back up spin in the form of T.M. Dilshan.

Sri Lanka had progressed to 146 for three in 32.5 overs with Kumar Sangakkara (73*) and Tilan Samaraweera (34*) involved in a 71 run unfinished stand for the third wicket when a heavy downpour prevented further play.

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The epic clash in 2015 at the Sydney Cricket Ground produced 688 runs as batsmen from both sides made merry.

Glen Maxell, with a 52 ball hundred, stunned a packed house as Australia posted 376 for nine. Kumar Sangakkara produced a century to keep his side interested and batting at number six Dinesh Chandimal came up with a superb 52 off 24 balls. An injury to Chandimal ended Sri Lanka’s hopes as they were bowled out with three overs to spare.

In 2019, they will meet at The Oval on the 15th June.

There is a misconception among some fans that Australian cricket authorities worked overtime to disrupt Sri Lankan cricket during the tour of that country in 1995-1996. The truth is far from it. The support that the Australian Cricket Board rendered Sri Lanka was tremendous. Board Chairman Ana Punchihewa was able to obtain the services of coach Dav Whatmore after the Australian board increased the guarantee fee for the 1995-1996 tour to 200,000 US$ from 100,000 US$ just to help Sri Lanka to obtain the services of Whatmore.

Less than a year later, Australia would lose their only World Cup fixture to Sri Lanka in the 1996 final.