They drew the second and final match of the series to walk away with a rare series win - till date their only series win in New Zealand.
They went on to win in England in 1998 but that was a one-off Test match. Since then Sri Lanka have won only once (series) in SENA country (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) – in England in 2014.
At Christchurch on Boxing Day, Sri Lanka have a shot at history after a valiant effort from Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis saved them at Wellington in the first Test of the incumbent tour. Sri Lanka does not often tour New Zealand but after the drawn first Test, the momentum is with the visitors. This could be their moment.
They have won just two Tests in New Zealand since they started touring the country 23 years ago - one in 1995 and the other on the 2006/07 tour when the series was drawn. They have lost 10 Tests across eight series’ before this and won just twice. These aren't good numbers on paper but Sri Lanka have always been competitive in New Zealand – that should give them confidence ahead of the Boxing Day Test at Christchurch.
Sri Lanka do not have a great record in SENA countries. In fact, since their inception into Test cricket, Sri Lanka have won just six Tests in these nations in 62 matches played. They have lost a whopping 40 Tests and drawn 16 of them.
Three of their six wins have come in England while two have come in New Zealand. They have never won in Australia in 13 matches played, losing 11 of them. In South Africa, they registered a win in 2011 – in Kingsmead in Durban.
That said, when they have won, Sri Lanka have done so emphatically. They have swept aside teams in their overseas wins which shows that once they find their rhythm, they are a tough team to overcome. New Zealand got a glimpse of that at Wellington and will be wary of a fresh fight at Christchurch cometh Boxing Day.
The margins of victory in SENA nations - by 241 runs, 10 wickets, 134 runs, 217 runs, 208 runs and 100 runs - are confidence-boosting but the last of them came back in 2014. They lost a recent home series to England 3-0 and aren't the side that Ranatunga carried to the country 23 years back, but it isn't still beyond Sri Lanka's reach.
First Published: December 25, 2018, 10:38 AM IST