In the words of F1 legend late Ayrton Senna, “I think that it is precisely in difficult times and frustrating situations that one’s character is strengthened, when one uses problems and frustrations as energy to overcome them”

A little inspiration was needed to rise from the jaws of misery to conquer the unlikely. For a forlorn team in dire straits, a fateful three weeks scripted a fairytale closer to their ’96 triumph. They scaled a feat which seemed farfetched for more superior Sri Lankan sides that faced much weaker Australian outfits. Sri Lankans have flouted the odds to stun the number one Test side with a 3-0 whitewash, cruising into a momentous series victory to clinch the Warne-Murali trophy for the first time. Cometh the shorter format of the game, an ideal opportunity for the Lions to continue the momentum, and for the tourists, it’s a moment to requite.

Let’s take a look at the numbers and statistics between Sri Lanka and Australia ahead of the 5-match ODI series.

Since 1975

Since 1975
(Image courtesy – PA photos)

The first ever ODI match between the two sides took place during the   World Cup at England in 1975. Anura Tennekoon captained the inexperienced Sri Lankans while Ian Chappell led the eventual runners up. Facing only their second game, the Sri Lankans were on a valiant pursuit against the hostile Thomson-Lillee combination. Chasing 329 in 60 overs, the minnows were on 150/2 when Jeff Thomson struck Duleep Mendis on the head, forcing him to retire hurt. His partner Sunil Wettimuny soon followed as another Jeff Thomson delivery struck Wettimuny in the chest. The aftermath saw Sri Lankans subdued at 276/4, giving Australia a less admired victory in the inaugural meeting.

The next encounter between the two sides happened 8 years later in Sri Lanka. Australia’s tour of Sri Lanka in 1982/83 featured 4 ODIs. In a memorable series, Sri Lanka not only recorded their first ever win against the mighty Australians but also claimed their first ever bilateral ODI series win against a Test playing nation.

Led by Duleep Mendis, Sri Lanka muted Greg Chappell’s side for 168/9 which was chased after a short scare where Sri Lanka lost 8 wickets. The Lankans achieved the same feat 3 days later at P. Sara Oval, this time chasing down a target of 208 and securing a 4 wicket win over the tourists. The next two games were washed out at SSC, giving the Sri Lankans a 2-0 series victory, their first series win over a Test nation.

In 1985, Sri Lanka wore coloured clothing for the first time when they played their first ever day night ODI against Australia at Sydney.

Sri Lanka vs Australia Head to Head ODI record –

  • Played – 91
  • Sri Lanka – 31
  • Australia – 56
  • No result – 4

Recap of the last decade

Considering the bilateral ODI series between the two sides, Sri Lanka’s tour to Australia in 2010/11 ended with a 2-1 win for the visitors. It was Sri Lanka’s last ODI series win against Australia. Australia’s tour to Sri Lanka in 2011 featured 5 ODIs which the tourists won 3-2. The 5-match ODI series during Sri Lanka’s tour to Australia in 2012/13 ended in a 2-2 stalemate with one ODI ending without a result.

In the Lion’s den

Since their first game on Sri Lankan soil in 1983, Australia has played 25 ODIs in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka vs Australia Head to Head ODI record in Sri Lanka –

  • Played – 25
  • Sri Lanka – 13
  • Australia – 9
  • No result – 3

R.Premadasa Stadium

“The RPS during the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy semi-final between Sri Lanka and Australia”
“The RPS during the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy semi-final between Sri Lanka and Australia” (Image courtesy – ESPNcricinfo Ltd)

Perhaps the ‘Mecca’ of the cricket-crazy nation, this symbolic venue is nestled in central Colombo amidst the hustle and bustle of the big city. But on match day, the boisterous reverberation by the ‘papare bands’ and the ardent fans not only eclipse the sounds of the city, but also reflect the unique identity of Sri Lankan Cricket.

Sitting at fifth in the all-time list of most ODIs played on a single ground, the RPS has so far hosted 120 games since its inauguration in 1986. The venue is best known for hosting the country’s first ever day night ODI. The floodlit affair unfolded between Sri Lanka and Australia in 1992.

Sri Lanka has played 102 matches at the RPS, winning 63, losing 32 while 7 have ended without a result.

Sri Lanka vs Australia ODI record at RPS –

  • Played – 12
  • Sri Lanka – 6
  • Australia – 5
  • No result – 1

Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium

Established in 2000, the venue hosted its first ODI in 2001. At Dambulla Sri Lanka has played 36 ODIs, winning 25 and losing 10. A solitary game has concluded with no result.

The teams have played 2 games at the venue, winning one each.

Pallekele International Stadium

At Pallekele, Sri Lanka has played 15 ODIs winning 9 and losing 6. The two sides have played 1 ODI with the visitors have claiming victory.

Batting Records

  • Most runs – Kumar Sangakkara (1675 runs in 43 innings) (Avg. 42.94)
  • Most runs for Australia – Ricky Ponting (1649 runs in 45 innings) (Avg. 42.28)
  • Most runs in Sri Lanka – Ricky Ponting (589 runs in 15 innings) (Avg. 45.30)
  • Most runs for Sri Lanka (in SL) – Kumar Sangakkara (526 runs in 12 innings) (Avg. 47.81)
  • Highest individual score – David Warner (163 at Brisbane, 2012)
  • Highest individual score for Sri Lanka – Sanath Jayasuriya (122 at SCG, 2003)
  • Highest individual score in Sri Lanka – Upul Tharanga (111 at Hambantota, 2011)
  • Highest individual score for Australia (in SL) – Mark Taylor (94 at P.Sara, 1992)

Bowling Records

  • Most wickets – Muttiah Muralitharan (48 wickets in 36 innings) (Avg. 31.85)
  • Most wickets for Australia – Brett Lee (38 wickets in 29 innings) (Avg. 32.60)
  • Most wickets in Sri Lanka – Upul Chandana (19 wickets in 11 innings) (Avg. 19.52)
  • Best Bowling – Mitchell Johnson (6 for 31 at Pallekele, 2011)
  • Best Bowling for Sri Lanka – Nuwan Kulasekara (5 for 22 at Brisbane 2013)