For the first time in their cricket history, Sri Lanka whitewashed Australia 3-0 in Tests. The whole world erupted in joy, for cricket fans, especially from the 1990s or before, typically enjoy watching Australia lose © Getty Images
For the first time in their cricket history, Sri Lanka whitewashed Australia 3-0 in Tests. The whole world erupted in joy, for cricket fans, especially from the 1990s or before, typically enjoy watching Australia lose © Getty Images

The Lions from the Emerald Island did not have the very best of 2016 across formats. From being regarded as one of the topsides in T20 cricket, they now are trying to find their footing in international cricket. Sri Lanka are still in the process of rebuilding following the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan. Thankfully, the Sri Lankan side is full of prospective stars. Though they have not performed as often as a team as they should have, the signs are certainly exciting. Having said that, this year had more of downs and less of ups for the Lankan Lions. Sri Lanka had an unpredictable high of defeating Australia at home while also suffering the low of being defeated by Bangladesh in Asia Cup T20 2016.

Miserable in T20Is:

Sri Lanka stared the year with a 0-2 defeat in New Zealand. They narrowly missed out winning the first T20I by just 3 runs but were beaten comprehensively in the next, by 9 wickets. Sri Lanka’s next assignment was against India in India, which they started with a bang, taking the first match by 5 wickets. Newcomer Kasun Rajitha surprised everyone with his pace and bounce. However, India bounced back to claim the series.

Soon afterwards, Sri Lanka took part in Asia Cup T20 2016 in Bangladesh, and had a torrid time. Losing to Bangladesh, India and Pakistan by massive margins, their only win came in the form of a 14-run win by over UAE.

Sri Lanka’s only silver lining came in the form of Dinesh Chandimal, Dilshan and Nuwan Kulasekara.

World T20 was barely any better. Sri Lanka’s only win came against Afghanistan in a group that featured West Indies, England and South Africa. Sri Lanka had a lot to blame on their batsmen and lucky which kept on evading them at crucial junctures.

To their luck they also had an injured skipper in Lasith Malinga, who withdrew just before the start of event. To his credit, stand-in skipper Angelo Mathews played out of his skin at times but could not get his side past Super-10 stage. It was the last time one saw Rangana Herath in coloured jerseys for Sri Lanka; a a career that lasted just 4 years.

They next played a T20I in England, which they lost They were thoroughly out-batted by Glenn Maxwell in the record-breaking first T20I, though they put up a fight before they sank in the second.

This series was also the last time one saw Dilshan in international stage ending a enthralling career.

Sri Lanka’s record in T20I:

Matches Wins Loss Tied
16 3 13 0

 

T20I top batsmen Runs
Dinesh Chandimal 373
Tillakaratne Dilshan 299
Angelo Mathews 248

 

T20I Wickets
Nuwan Kulasekera 10
Thisara Perera 9

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Anguish-filled ODIs:

Sri Lanka started their ODI campaign in 2016 with a thumping defeat in the series against New Zealand. They had an on-off show in the series, winning a game and losing another one by just 36 runs. They overcame alien conditions and form to thrash Ireland in their 2-match ODI series. Kusal Perera and Dasun Shanaka rose to the occasion and displayed sublime cricket to hit rock in the next series.

The 4-match series in England was more closely-fought than the result will tell you. They should have won the first match at Trent Bridge, but with 7 to win off the last ball, Liam Plunkett hit a six to tie the match. The next match, a truncated game at Lord’s, could also have gone in Sri Lanka’s favour, but for poor bowling.

Sri Lanka lost the series. Chandimal continued his purple patch run making 267 runs in 5 games, while skipper Mathews only enhanced his reputation by accumulating 53 runs.

Australia in Sri Lanka:

After momentous wins in the Tests, Sri Lanka looked to dominate them in the ODI arena. As in England, the scoreline does not reflect the closeness that one witnessed during the 5-ODI series. Sri Lanka lost the first match in the dying hours, a comeback in second match after, and once again let the math slip in the third.

Stand-in skipper Chandimal continued to show his mettle stoke pilling runs match in-match out.

Matches Wins Loss Tied N/R
19 6 9 1 3

 

ODI Runs
Dinesh Chandimal 656
Kusal Mendis 569
Angelo Mathews 520


ODIs Wickets
Suranga Lakmal 16
Nuwan Kulasekara 12
Nuwan Pradeep 12

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 Unimaginable in Tests:

Sri Lanka had a much better 2016 in Tests. They were completely dismantled at Headingley and were routed again at Chester-le-Street, but a stellar show with bat earned them a draw at Lord’s. This series produced Kaushal Silva and Kusal Mendis, who took on the might of England bowlers to come out strong.

Australian brown-wash:

Sri Lanka took on Australia in a three-Test series to redeem their pride after a poor cricketing season overall. Australia, known for their miserable form in subcontinent, did not even try to improve on this reputation. It was not the batsmen from Sri Lanka that ran riot but one-man army in Herath that orchestrated the visitors’ downfall.

Herath bagged 28 victims at 12.75, which was penny-pinching to say the least. Herath staked his claim of being called the best left-arm spinner in the world by miles. The likes of Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva and Lakshan Sandakan also shot themselves to international fame in the process.

For the first time in their cricket history Sri Lanka whitewashed Australia 3-0. The whole world erupted in joy, for cricket fans, especially from the 1990s or before, typically enjoy watching Australia lose.

Herath was subsequently named Sri Lanka’s Test skipper for their tour to Zimbabwe in the absence of Mathews. Zimbabwe was comfortably beaten 2-0 without much being written into performances.

Sri Lanka soon embarked the South African shores with a stalwarts like Mathews and Chandimal back in the reckoning.  The first Test at Port Elizabeth exposed Sri Lanka’s dwindling batting line that crumbled thanks to the moving ball. While they managed to put up a brave face in the second time, the task on hand was exponentially huge.

Matches Win Loss Draw
9 5 3 1
Test Runs
Dhananjaya de Silva 615
Kusal Mendis 589
Kaushal Silva 534

 

Test Wickets
Rangana Herath 57
Dilruwan Perera 23
Suranga Lakmal 19

Moving ahead Sri Lanka play out the remaining two Tests in South Africa. They they have chance to strike back with conditions being more nearer to Sri Lanka. With not a lot of Test cricket in future, it can be the only opportunity for a young and expressive side to reclaim their lost faith in fans and cricket-lovers in general.