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ICC World Cup 2019: A Look Back at India-Sri Lanka Rivalry at World Cups

Abhimanyu Sen |July 6, 2019, 3:05 PM IST
ICC World Cup 2019: A Look Back at India-Sri Lanka Rivalry at World Cups

Old foes India and Sri Lanka will play each other in their final league stage match of the World Cup at Leeds on Saturday (July 6), with nothing more than bragging rights at stake. India have qualified for the semi-finals for the seventh time in the history of the competition, while Sri Lanka have had one of their worst campaigns at the tournament.

For the Virat Kohli-led Indian team, Leeds presents a chance to keep their momentum going and continue their domination over their neighbours. Kohli is also due for big knock at the World Cup this year and it might just be the right game for him to flex his muscles and warm-up for the semi-finals.

On the other hand Sri Lanka’s veterans like Lasith Malinga & Angelo Mathews are making their last appearance in a World Cup game for their country. So make no mistake about the fact that will look to finish with a flourish.

However, even if the stakes are low in this contest, India-Sri Lanka match-ups at a World Cup has always given fans plenty to remember, right from 1979 to 2011.

ICC World Cup 1979

After captain Anura Tennekoon got injured minutes before the game, stand-in skipper Bandula Warnapura shepherded his boys admirably and took his side to only win by an associate member at the 1979 World Cup by beating the Srinivas Venkataraghavan led-India by 47 runs. The match was scheduled for June 16, and thanks to the troubles caused by rain, the start was delayed. India came out to bat on Monday (June 18) in the 60-over contest and had to chase 239 to win.

India had elected to field first and Kapil Dev was the only one who had some success with the ball as Duleep Mendis scored a half-century. During the chase the pendulum swung in favour of the Lankans after Gundappa Viswanath was run-out and India were 119/3. A collapse of sorts followed as the Lankans made people sit up and take notice.

ICC World Cup 1996

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The semi-final of 1996 at Eden Gardens will always be considered as one of the darkest days in Indian cricket. Sri Lanka then led by Arjuna Ranatunga, had Sananth Jayasuria and Aravinda De Silva in the form of their lives. The Indian bowlers, led by Javagal Srinath took a beating on a summer afternoon and found nothing to smile about in the City of Joy as the Lankans posted a total of 251/8.

An in-form Sachin Tendulkar and Sanjay Manjrekar looked set to keep India in the hunt, before the former was dismissed and a collapse of massive proportions followed. After the fall of the 8th wicket for 120, the crowd at Eden Gardens could not control their emotions and all hell broke loose. Unimpressed by the violent behaviour match referee Clive Lloyd awarded the match to Sri Lanka, who then went onto win the trophy.

ICC World Cup 1999

Three years later in one of England’s lesser known but beautiful grounds, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid took the match by the scruff of the neck and absolutely bludgeoned the Lankan bowlers. Ganguly even sent a few sixes into the river outside the ground.

Ganguly (183) and Dravid (145) both scored strokeful centuries as India posted a massive 373 for the loss of six wickets. Thankfully the duo scored the way they did, because none of the other Indian batsmen made a mark on the day. Sri Lanka, led by Arjuna Ranatunga, were all but batted out of the game and hardly put up a fight during the chase.

All-rounder Robin Singh claimed a five-for as the Lankans were bowled out for 216 and handed a 157-run defeat.

ICC World Cup 2003

By now, Sachin Tendulkar was at the peak of his powers and India were flourishing under the leadership of Sourav Ganguly.

Tendulkar, who’s very sight was a nightmare for the bowlers, along with Virender Sehwag set the ball rolling against the ageing Chaminda Vaas and Dilhara Fernando with a 153-run opening partnership. The formidable and young Indian batting had a fun day out in the sun as the Lankans toiled. India posted 292 for the loss of six wickets.

The 1996 champions, make no mistake, had a strong batting line-up which boasted of some big names like Sanath Jayasuria, Marvan Atapattu and Kumar Sangakkara. The chase was not impossible, but the likes of Zaheer Khan had other ideas. The young left arm fast bowler brought to the table pace and movement that troubled batsmen and while he bagged only a couple of wickets, Javagal Srinath and Ashish Nehra took four each to dismantle the opposition batting for 109.

The Lankans had five batsmen dismissed for a duck.

ICC World Cup 2007


The World Cup that will forever haunt Indian cricket. A formidable India were struggling in the West Indies and were in a must win situation against Sri Lanka in Port of Spain.

The Lankans batted first, just like in 1996, and posted 254 in their innings. Upul Tharanga and Chamara Silva smashed half-centuries while the more fancied Kumar Sangkkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Sanath Jayasuria failed to have much of an impact with the bat. The target was not daunting by any stretch of imagination, but apart from Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid no one could hold down their end.

A couple of ducks and three more single digit scores meant the Indian batting suffered an untimely collapse against the guile of Muttiah Muralitharan, who was at the time among the most dangerous spinners in the game. India huffed and puffed their way through the innings, much like the World Cup campaign, and were bowled out for 185.

ICC World Cup 2011

Another World Cup, another India-Sri Lanka game, this time however the stakes were at its highest – the World Cup final at the iconic Wankhede Stadium. The subplot – Sachin’s last World Cup and the narrative expectedly revolved around the Little Master.

This was a final for the ages as both sides turned up to the party, and Mahela Jayawardene smashed an unbeaten century as Sri Lanka gave India a stiff 278-run target. It would not be easy, and the early dismissals of Tendulkar and Sehwag did not help.

Up stepped Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli and steadied the ship, before Kohli was dismissed which brought MS Dhoni into the mix. Dhoni and Gambhir took India to within 55 runs of the target before the southpaw walked back to the pavilion. India were in control of the chase with Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh at the crease, and the skipper then finished it off in grand style with a six over mid-on.

India were crowned World champions and the country came to a standstill as more than a billion celebrated.

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

9 7 1 1 15 +0.80
9 7 2 0 14 +0.86
9 6 3 0 12 +1.15
9 5 3 1 11 +0.17
9 5 3 1 11 -0.43
9 3 4 2 8 -0.91
9 3 5 1 7 -0.03
9 3 5 1 7 -0.41
9 2 6 1 5 -0.22
9 0 9 0 0 -1.32

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6420 123
2 India 6807 122
3 New Zealand 4763 113
4 Australia 5470 112
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
see more