Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's best Test wins

Following their historic win in Durban, ESPNcricinfo picks the top-five Test victories by Sri Lanka

Siddarth Ravindran

December 30, 2011

Comments: 29 | Text size: A | A

Muttiah Muralitharan took 16 wickets to bowl Sri Lanka to a ten-wicket win, England v Sri Lanka, only Test, The Oval, August 16, 1998
Muttiah Muralitharan decimated England with 16 for 220 at The Oval © Getty Images

England, The Oval, 1998
The one-off Test was almost a sideshow for England, who were fresh from beating South Africa and looking ahead to the Ashes in the winter. Sri Lanka were world champions at the one-day game, but still weren't seen as serious contenders in the Test format. England seemed in charge as centuries from Graeme Hick and John Crawley pushed them to a strong 445 despite Muttiah Muralitharan's seven wickets. The stars of Sri Lanka's World Cup victory then showed their Test prowess - Sanath Jayasuriya clobbering 213 and Aravinda de Silva getting a more sober 152 - to leave England 146 behind. Murali then produced one of the all-time great bowling performances, grabbing 9 for 65 to engineer Sri Lanka's first away win against England.

South Africa, Colombo, 2006
Mahela Jayawardene had just scored an epic 374 at the SSC, but it wasn't even his finest innings of the two-Test series. A week later, Jayawardene was the architect of what was then the sixth-highest chase in Test history as Sri Lanka thrillingly hunted down 352 with one wicket to spare. In a match where teams reached 300 in each of the four innings, Jayawardene seemed to have sealed it for Sri Lanka as his century shepherded them to within 19 runs of victory at lunch on the final day with four wickets remaining. But his dismissal, 11 short of the target meant Farveez Maharoof had to do the job with Sri Lanka's usual match-winners - Murali, Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga - only with the bat this time.

India, Colombo, 1985
Just three years after gaining Test status, Sri Lanka secured their first win, in only their 14th match. Wicketkeeper and opening batsman Amal Silva starred with a century in the first innings and nine dismissals, but there were other headliners as well: Roy Dias made two stylish half-centuries, and Rumesh Ratnayake was the most successful of a seam trio that took 19 wickets in the game. Despite half-centuries from three of their big names - Sunil Gavaskar, Kris Srikkanth and Mohinder Amarnath - India could only muster 244 to concede a huge first-innings lead. Sri Lanka then briskly ran up 206 for 3, setting a target of 348. Ratnayake ripped through the middle order, and despite a 78 from Kapil Dev, Sri Lanka won by 149 runs, sparking jubilation across the country. A public holiday was declared in Sri Lanka to mark the occasion.

New Zealand, Napier, 1995
With their World Cup win still a year away, Sri Lanka were still seen as one of the weaklings of world cricket when they set off for the tour of New Zealand in 1994-95. A green track in Napier awaited them, as different from home conditions as possible, but they hadn't counted on a 21-year-old Chaminda Vaas turning in a star-making performance. In a match where only one team made it past 200 in four innings, Vaas made the difference both with bat and ball - a ten-wicket haul was complemented by priceless innings of 33* and 36. Sri Lanka's wicketkeeper, the now forgotten Chamara Dunusinghe, top scored with 91 on debut and also took seven catches as Sri Lanka won their first Test away from home by the massive margin of 241 runs.

Pakistan, Faisalabad, 2004
Sri Lanka's overall record away from home may not be great, but they have enjoyed plenty of success in Pakistan. In 2004, even in the absence of perennial match-winner Murali, Sri Lanka began their series with a thumping victory in Faisalabad. As in Durban, Thilan Samaraweera made a first-innings century after the top order disappointed, and left-arm spinner Rangana Herath picked up plenty of wickets in both innings. What really changed the game, though, was a Jayasuriya double-century in the second innings - he was uncharacteristically subdued early on before opening out in a blaze of big-hitting to put the match beyond Pakistan's reach. It was Sri Lanka's 11th Test win overseas, and their sixth in Pakistan.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Dhutugemunu on (January 2, 2012, 6:27 GMT)

@Approve Pandey - Do some stat references before commenting something. Sri Lanka have won 9 Tests (SA 1, Eng 2, NZ 2, WI 1, Zim 3) outside subcontinent out of 59 with a 15.25%. For India its 25 out of 176 (14.28%). For Pakistan having the highest win% for a subcontinent team winning 37 out of 150 (24.67%). If you want to get rid of Zimbabwe from the equation, here are the stats. Sri Lanka 6/51 (11.76%), India 22/170 (12.94%) and Pakistan 31/142 (21.83%). Clearly Pakistan is the best Subcontinent team when playing outside of Asia. There is no big difference between India and Sri Lanka in win percentage. Yes. India have won more matches than Sri Lanka (16 more), but played a lot more matches too (117 more). India playing Test Cricket for 79 year yet they have won 22 outside Asia. only 0.27 per year. Sri Lanka playing for just 29 years and won 9 which is 0.31 per year. For Pakistan 59 years 37 matches, which is 0.62 per year.

Posted by SL_kamal on (January 2, 2012, 1:08 GMT)

Following wins too are rated highly as ones listed above:

Australia, Kandy, 1999 Pakistan, Faisalabad and Sialkot, 1999.

Posted by sachinsjaihindustan on (January 1, 2012, 13:52 GMT)

Priantha Gunaratna, I agree with you, Chandimal was very impressive. As a Sri Lankan, you probably know more about him than me, but I don't think he should curb his natural instincts, as you're suggesting. I think he should continue to be aggressive, because that aggression is perfect for counteracting the hostile South African pace attack. That aggression can take the game away from the opposition very quickly. He looks a very technically correct player as well. But one thing he can work on is his footwork and not get caught on the crease against the quicker bowlers. Otherwise he should continue his natural game.

Posted by LakmalPhysics on (January 1, 2012, 1:04 GMT)

@Apoorv Pandey: Do you know Indians and Sri Lankans record against Aus, Eng, SA, WI, Pak & NZ in their soil and who is better?. Sri Lanka have played 72 matches in these countries and have won 12 matches. That's a 0.166 wining ratio. If we compare this with our so called great neighbor, India have played 196 matches and have won 24 matches. Then the wining ratio is 0.122. So the real fact is Sri Lankans performance is well ahead of Indians.

And the other fact is India is usually playing 4 match series in AUS & ENG not like Sri Lanka who usually get 2 or 3 match series or sometimes only one match (1998 tour to ENG). When you get a long tour, you can get accustomed to the conditions hence make up your country and player stats. And SL's next tour to AUS after December 2012 is in 2019. So when you don't get an opportunity to play against, how you win?

Posted by   on (December 31, 2011, 23:04 GMT)

@SachTG, your stats on SA's record in Pakistan are deceptive. SA have won two series in PAK, lost 1 and drawn one in the UAE. Pretty good stats I'd say, they have only failed in Sri Lanka. In India, they have a 5-5 or 5-6 record, better than any touring side

Posted by 9ST9 on (December 31, 2011, 20:23 GMT)

@Apporv Pandey - Lets see the performances of the Asian sides in South Africa, and vice versa. The worlds 'No 1' team India Have played 15 Tests in SA and have won 2, Sri Lanka have played 9 and Won 1. Pakistan have won 2 Games out of 9 played. So I don't think none of the sub continent teams have anything to be proud of their Performances in SA. Furthermore SA have played 10 And won 2 in SL. In India SA have won no less than 5 games out of 12, and in Pakistan/UAE SA have won 2 out of 9 so, There's nothing much here than the fact that all asian teams have performed badly in SA while SA have played badly in Asia , except in India of course.

Posted by MENDIS_Forever on (December 31, 2011, 18:26 GMT)

A superb victory.No words to express the performance.Simply outstanding! @indianpunter: Hats off to you sir.You are a real Indian fan,who loves the success of your neighboring brothers. @Kepler Wessels: Sir, don't try to ticklish hungry tigers.Never underestimate anyone hereafter,only if you have learned something from this huge defeat to your team.

Posted by Mark00 on (December 31, 2011, 13:48 GMT)

I said, before the series (read my remarks in cricinfo comments) that Philander would be the danger man and, if he comes back, he will continue to dominate the SL bats.

Posted by area1985 on (December 31, 2011, 13:10 GMT)

@Approve Pandey you seems like get so upset for the indian 5th straight in overseas lost in test,we are not such average team like india. don't be so jealous on srilanka,just 2 wins outside subcontinents??, this shows ur knowledge about the game,, just look ur indian team record outside subcontinent playing 4,5 test series for ages but for 0 success, before commenting anything on srilanka look the real fact and learn the truth

Posted by stormy16 on (December 31, 2011, 12:40 GMT)

I would say this is the greatest test win due to the circumstances around the team including the chaos in the administration and the non-payment of players ETC ETC. Also SA are probably at their strongest in a long time with a serious pace attack and an equally storng batting order. For those who want to discredit this win the reality is regardless of what happens next, the fact is SL won the 2nd test which doesnt change.

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