Almost Centuries…


You put on your pads and come out to the middle to some chirping by the close-in fielders, see off the anxious first 10 minutes cautiously, run 2s and 3s as fast as you can, shake off the sledging by the burly seamer, keep the concentration against spinners and finally reach the nineties. Then….. you gift your wicket on a platter to the 5th change spinner’s full toss, failing to register that magical 3-figure mark. Sound familiar? 

Though as unfortunate as it may sound, this has happened to the best of players in world cricket. In fact, the biggest victim of the ‘Nervous 90s’ is the master himself, Sachin Tendulkar who has been dismissed or stranded in the 90s 28 times in international cricket. (In addition to his century of centuries) Here’s a briefing on all those (almost) centuries by Sri Lankan players.

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Nervous 90s

Sri Lankan players who were chiefly affected by the ‘Nervous 90s’ are former captains, Aravinda de Silva and Mahela Jayewardene. True to his nickname ‘Mad Max’, Aravinda has been dismissed 9 times in ODIs in the ‘Nervous 90s’ which is the highest in ODIs for a Sri Lankan. It would have made much more sense if the maestro had 20 ODI centuries in front of his name instead of his record of 11.

The other table topper of the list, Mahela Jayewardene boasts 6 Test and 4 ODI ‘Nervous 90s’ with the addition of 1 T20I score where he missed his 2nd consecutive T20I ton by just 2 runs in the 2010 World T20. The only other ‘Nervous 90’ for Sri Lanka in T20Is was by TM Dilshan.

Player Nervous 90s (Test+ODI+T20I)
Aravinda de Silva 11
Mahela Jayawardene 11
Angelo Mathews 09
Kumar Sangakkara 09
Sanath Jayasuriya 08

Nasty 99s

All together there have been 117 occasions of 37 different Sri Lanka batsmen reaching the 90s in international cricket and missing out on a century. In the below list, you’ll find the unluckiest of them all.

Nasty 99s Opposition Ground
Romesh Kaluwitharana ODI v Zimbabwe Harare – 1999
Russel Arnold Test v Pakistan Peshawar – 2000
Sanath Jayasuriya ODI v India RPS – 2001
Mahela Jayawardene Test v West Indies Galle – 2001
Sanath Jayasuriya ODI v England Adelaide – 2003
Angelo Mathews Test v India Mumbai – 2009
TM Dilshan ODI v South Africa RPS – 2013
Kusal Perera ODI v West Indies RPS – 2015

Legendary opener Sanath Jayasuriya was the only Sri Lanka player to be dismissed on 99 twice in international cricket. Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews and Jayasuriya himself (in 2003) had to face the bitter experience of being runout at 99.

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The players to witness the most ‘Nasty 99s’ in international cricket are Sir Geoffrey Boycott (3), Sir Richie Richardson (3), Misbah-ul-Haq (3) and Sachin Tendulkar (3). Virender Sehwag has been dismissed/stranded on 99 twice against Sri Lanka and that is the most ‘Nasty 99s’ by a player vs Sri Lanka which also included the controversial no balling incident by Suraj Randiv.

In Women’s ODIs, Sri Lanka skipper Chamari Atapattu was also dismissed on 99 at Sharjah in 2015.

Ominous 190s

The player to miss most double centuries in the world after reaching the 190s is…. (you guessed it correctly), Kumar Sangakkara, who is joined by Mohommad Yousuf in the unluckiest list with 3 ‘Ominous 190s’. 

Sangakkara was wrongly given out in the 2007 Hobart Test by Rudi Koertzen when he was on his way to his 3rd back-to-back double century. Current MCC president had to witness ‘Ominous 190s’ two more times in his illustrious career (both against Pakistan) and he concluded his career with second most double centuries in Test Cricket behind Sir Donald Bradman.

Player Ominous 190s
Kumar Sangakkara 3
Kusal Mendis 2
TM Dilshan 1
Sanath Jayasuriya 1
Mahela Jayawardene 1
Dimuth Karunaratne 1
Sidath Wettimuny 1

Young Kusal Mendis has missed his maiden double century twice (2017-Galle and 2018- Chattogram) against Bangladesh, trying to be adventurous and clear the boundary to reach the milestone. 

Historic Lord’s Cricket ground has witnessed two ‘Ominous 190s’ by Sri Lankans. In Sri Lanka’s first visit to England in 1984, opener Sidath Wettimuny missed out on the opportunity to be the first Sri Lankan double centurion as he was dismissed on 190. The second instance arrived in 2011 after the disastrous Cardiff Test loss, Captain TM Dilshan launched an attacking century with an injured thumb, but was dismissed for 193.

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In ODIs, there’s no occurrence of an ‘Ominous 190s’ by a Sri Lankan though Sanath Jayasuriya came awfully close to a double century in 2000 Coca-Cola Champions Trophy Final in Sharjah. In fact, there’s only two instances in ODIs where a player was dismissed/remained in the ‘Ominous 190s’; Saeed Anwar 194 vs India, Charles Coventry 194* vs Bangladesh. 

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Dreaded 199

There have been 12 instances in Test history that a player has missed his double century by 1 run, and Sri Lankans are connected to 3 of them.

After a marathon 340 in the previous Test, Sanath Jayasuriya continued his form to the next Test in SSC in 1997 vs India but unfortunately was bowled on 199 by right arm seamer Abey Kuruvilla. After 15-years, Kumar Sangakkara was left stranded at the non-sticker’s end at Galle vs Pakistan after celebrating a double century that wasn’t. Thus, he became the second batsman to remain not out on 199 in international cricket (Andy Flower 199* vs South Africa 2001)

Dreaded 199 Opposition Ground
Sanath Jayasuriya Test v India SSC – 1997
Kumar Sangakkara* Test v Pakistan Galle – 2012

The 3rd instance that connects Sri Lanka to a ‘dreaded 199s’ happened way back in 1986, when Mohammad Azharuddin was given out to LBW off Ravi Ratnayake’s bowling at Kanpur while on 199. 

Tragic 290s

No Sri Lankan player has been dismissed in the history of Test Cricket between 290-299 but Kumar Sangakkara fell-short of a triple century by just 13 runs in that famous partnership of 624 runs between Mahela Jayewardene and himself in 2006.

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In the 7 occasions where a batsman was dismissed/remained in the ‘Tragic 290s’, Sir Donald Bradman was the only player to remain unbeaten at 299 while Martin Crowe was caught off Arjuna Ranatunga’s bowling on 299 in Wellington in 1991. Virender Shewag was also dismissed on 293 vs Sri Lanka in 2009 in Mumbai.

As they say, Cricket is a game of uncertainties and it involves lots of ifs and buts. In this case, a player’s career record or countries win/loss records would have shone more than it is now because of many milestones a player didn’t achieve, but that’s what makes cricket interesting; its glorious uncertainties.

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