Arjuna Ranatunga was an inspirational captain who, against all odds, led Sri Lanka to their first (and only) World Cup win in 1996. But there was more to him than just his leadership qualities. Ranatunga was a high impact Test batsman for Sri Lanka - a fact which is not revealed by his conventional numbers and also a very effective middle-order batsman in ODI cricket.
On his 57th birthday, we look at 5 Interesting Facts about Arjuna Ranatunga.
1. Ranatunga was the highest impact Sri Lankan batsman during his Test career from February, 1982 to August, 2000. The main reason for his high impact were his 3 series-defining performances which are significant contributions in the result Test of a series either resulting in a win for the respective team or helping draw from behind.
2. Ranatunga scored an under-pressure 111 (from 118 for 4) in the opening Test in Colombo (SSC) helping Sri Lanka to a first innings’ lead against India. Although the match ended in a draw, Sri Lanka had the upper hand and the momentum going forward and went on to win the second Test in Colombo (PSS) and drew the third and final Test in Kandy. It was Sri Lanka’s first series win in their Test cricket history.
3. Ranatunga, captaining the side, scored a crucial 76 in the first innings against New Zealand in the second and deciding Test of the series in Colombo (SSC) in 1992. Sri Lanka ended with 394 and took the ascendancy in the match. They went on to beat New Zealand by 9 wickets and with it won their second Test series in history.
4. Ranatunga gave a Player of the Match performance in the series decider against Pakistan in Sialkot in 1995. The match was evenly balanced after the first innings with Pakistan replying with 214 to Sri Lanka’s 232. The Sri Lankan skipper, Ranatunga, came to bat at 97 for 3 and top-scored for his team in the second innings with a gritty 87. Sri Lanka declared their second innings at 338 for 9 and bowled out Pakistan for 212 thereby winning their first Test series in Pakistan.
5. Ranatunga played a stellar role with the bat in Sri Lanka’s historic 1996 World Cup victory. He aggregated 241 runs in 6 innings at an average of 120.5 and strike rate of 114.76 including a high of 75 in the tournament. The stand out feature of his batting was the rate at which he scored his runs - he had the second-highest strike rate after Jayasuriya (min. 150 runs) in the tournament.