Ranatunga

Arjuna Ranatunga, born on December 1, 1963, is one of Sri Lanka s greatest captains. He changed the face of Sri Lanka cricket by leading them to victory in the 1996 World Cup. He represented Sri Lanka in 93 Tests and 269 One-Day Internationals (ODIs). Nishad Pai Vaidya picks 15 facts about the former Sri Lankan captain.

1. Political family

Arjuna Ranatunga is the son of Reggie, a well-known politician in Sri Lanka. Ranatunga senior was a part of Sri Lanka Freedom Party and took on numerous political responsibilities in his life.

2. Brothers-in-arms

Ranatunga s brothers Dammika, Nishantha and Sanjeeva have also represented Sri Lanka at the highest level. Except for Nishantha, all the other brothers have played Test cricket. Nishantha is now the secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket.

3. Famous Alma Mater

Ranatunga received his education at Ananda College, which has produced many known faces in Sri Lanka. Cricketers Sidath Wettimuny, Thilan Samaraweera, Dinesh Chandimal and Tilina Kandamby are some of the other players to pass out from Ananda College.

4. Smashes ton for Sri Lanka U-20

Ranatunga played for Sri Lanka under-20 against India under-20 in 1980. In his very first game, he scored 128 not out. That Indian team featured the likes of Ravi Shastri, Lalchand Rajput, Sadanand Vishwanath, Chandrakant Pandit, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan and Bharat Arun.

5. First Sri Lankan to score a Test fifty

At the age of 18, Ranatunga played Sri Lanka s inaugural Test match in Colombo. He had a 99-run stand with Ranjan Madugalle and scored 54. He was the first Sri Lankan to score a fifty in a Test match.

6. Skittles out India for 78

Ranatunga was a part-time bowler, who occasionally unleashed his military medium-pace. In a One-Day International (ODI) against India at Kanpur in 1986, the hosts were chasing only 196 to win. Ranatunga produced astonishing figures of 6-1-14-4 and bundled India out for 78.

7. Captain at a young age

At 24 years and 333 days, Ranatunga became the youngest man to captain Sri Lanka in an ODI. This record was later broken by Dinesh Chandimal, who captained Sri Lanka at the age of 23. At 26 years and five days, he Ranatunga led Sri Lanka in a Test match.

8. Masterminds first-ever successful 300-plus run chase

Believe it or not! Sri Lanka were the first team to successfully chase down a target over 300 in an ODI. This happened in a 1992 World Cup match against Zimbabwe, when Sri Lanka were still considered minnows. Chasing 313 to win, Sri Lanka got three with four balls to spare and with three wickets in hand. Ranatunga finished on an unbeaten 88 to make it possible.

9. Highest batting average in 1996 World Cup

While Ranatunga scored 241 runs during Sri Lanka s 1996 World Cup winning campaign, he finished with the highest average in the tournament. There were other batsmen who scored more prolifically in the tournament, but Ranatunga s average of 120.50 stood out. The next best was Aravinda de Silva with 89.60. For batsmen with over 100 runs in the tournament, Ranatunga had the second highest strike-rate with 114.76. Only Sanath Jayasuriya was ahead with 131.54.

10. Not the best runner

Ranatunga wasn’t the best at running between the wickets given his bulky physique. Many times, he used to amble to the other end for a single. Numerous commentators are said to have termed it, conservation of energy.

11. Run-ins with Australia

As Muttiah Muralitharan s action was questioned on two tours to Australia, Ranatunga stood by his teammate and took on the other side and the umpires. He had many run-ins with the Australians on the field, which included Shane Warne and Ian Healy, who dished out numerous verbal volleys at him. Healy had mocked his physique during a game as well.

12. Only cricketer to play his nation s maiden and 100th Test

Sri Lanka got Test status in 1982 and Ranatunga featured in that Test match. In 2000, when Sri Lanka played their 100th Test, Ranatunga was a part of the eleven. This made him the only cricketer to have featured in his nation s maiden and 100th Test. Funnily, he finished with only 93 Tests to his credit.

13. Insurance broker

While Ranatunga continued to play for Sri Lanka, he had started a business as an insurance broker.

14. Son also a cricketer

Ranatunga s son Dhyan is also a cricketer. He represented Tamil Union in a few unofficial matches in 2010.

15. Political ambitions

A political career for Ranatunga was inevitable, given that his family was actively involved. He had been a part of two political parties after retirement but has left them for various reasons. Ranatunga has also been a part of Sri Lanka Cricket in the past.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)