Sri Lanka burst on to the cricketing scene in the world cup of 1979. It created a piece of history with a victory over India in its first match ever. The Indians were humiliated but the Lankans were on top of the moon. This is how their journey in the world of cricket began with a cherishing win over India. Asantha De Mel was the hero of that match, taking 5 wickets in the match. Since then, the Lankan lions have never looked back. Sri Lanka struggled in the early years of its cricketing stint but gradually it started to firm its feet in the cricketing fraternity with an occasional upset win. But what was always encouraging was that even though it didn’t win many matches it came terribly close to winning quite a few against major test playing nations. Although not many match winning efforts came but there were many spirited performances which went in vain simply due to lack of team efforts.
But, Sri Lanka shocked everyone with its world cup win in the 1996 world cup. It was not only the victory but it was more the manner in which the victory was achieved that shocked the entire cricketing world. The new tactic of going after the new ball in the first 15 overs of field restrictions was a new dimension to the game. So, the Renaissance man of Sri Lankan cricket Arjuna Ranatunga lifted the world cup in 1996 and with it lifted the entire of Sri Lankan cricket. Since then, Sri Lanka is one of the leading test and ODI playing nation.
Arjuna Ranatunga, the master tactician developed a side flooded with youth and young ideas. Players like Sanath Jayasuriya, Muthaih Muralitharan, and Chaminda Vaas who all are now the pillars of Sri Lankan cricket were a result of Arjuna Ranatunga’s master stroke. But one man stood shoulder to shoulder with him and he was Aravinda De Silva, the man of the match in the world cup semi-final and final and also the vice-captain to Ranatunga.
This victory instilled confidence in the Sri Lankan cricket and since then they have only looked ahead. Muralitharan has emerged as the 2nd highest leading wicket taker in the world. He has demolished everyone with his spinning abilities. Jayasuriya has taken everyone by a storm. He is one of the best all-rounders of the game with more than 10,000 ODI runs, he has led Sri Lankan cricket to a new level. Chaminda Vaas, the Mr.Consistent of Sri Lankan cricket has also learnt the art of left arm bowling with experience.
And with the new breed of confident cricketers coming in to the side, has given the world enough evidence that the kings of the sub-continent are none other than these islanders. Reaching the world cup finals is a big feat for a team full of young people and brilliantly led by a very courageous leader in Mahela Jayawardane along with the vice-captain Kumara Sangakara. So, it can be said that with both India and Pakistan struggling to get out of controversies and also not as good at fielding standards not as good as that of Sri Lankans. Cheers to the new kings of sub-continent!