England v Sri Lanka

Carlton & United Series 1998-99, eighth match

England v Sri Lanka

Toss: Sri Lanka.

This was one of the most dramatic, controversial and heated one-day games ever played. The result, Sri Lanka winning by one wicket, almost seemed inconsequential. The drama started when Muralitharan, in his second over, was called for throwing by square-leg umpire Ross Emerson. Ranatunga led his men towards the boundary and the match stopped for 14 minutes as the Sri Lankan management used a mobile phone to speak to their board in Colombo. They were ordered to go on, but there were to be further arguments with Emerson, when Ranatunga insisted he stand closer to the stumps as Muralitharan (who had switched ends) was bowling. Though Ranatunga rapidly became a national villain in Australia, there was much criticism of Emerson for pursuing his own agenda when ICC had specifically cleared Muralitharan's action. He was certainly less decisive afterwards, allowing a seven-ball over and seeming too distracted to ask the third umpire when Jayawardene was apparently run out.

The bad feeling affected players on both sides: during Sri Lanka's innings, Mahanama appeared to obstruct Gough as he swooped on the ball; Gough then feigned a head butt at the batsman, and Stewart barged into Mahanama soon afterwards. Stewart was also overheard by television microphones telling Ranatunga "your behaviour today has been appalling for a country captain." This was the match in which Ranatunga became the most experienced captain in limited-over internationals, breaking Allan Border's record of 178 in charge. The crisis overshadowed two fine career-best centuries by Hick and Jayawardene, which effectively cancelled each other out. But Sri Lanka did brilliantly to overcome the throwing episode and beat an imposing total of 302, based on a stand of 154 between Hick and Fairbrother, a fourth-wicket record for England. Muralitharan had the last word when he hit the winning run with two balls to spare.

Man of the Match: D. P. M. D. Jayawardene. Attendance: 9,850.

© John Wisden & Co