-December 26th, 1995-
Sri Lanka’s venture into international cricket started around the same time as the civil war. In 1981, Sri Lanka was given Test Cricket status by the International Cricket Council. In 1985, two years after the start of the Sri Lankan Civil War, Sri Lanka received its first Test victory against India. Ten years later, they achieved their first overseas test victory against New Zealand in March, 1995 under the captaincy of “Captain Cool”-- the legendary Arjuna Ranatunga.
The year leading up to the 1996 World Cup was when Sri Lanka took the next step in international cricket. In December, 1995, Sri Lanka travelled to Australia to play a 3-match test series. They found themselves unmatched against a high powered Australian front, yet this series was different. Under the captaincy of Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lanka fought hard and played with confidence. While they lost the test series 0-3, Sri Lanka found their groove during the next few One Day matches. They challenged Australia to the brink and used that momentum to carry themselves into the World Cup. They had found their identity and they had found their direction.
During the Boxing Day Test match, up and coming off-spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan was no-balled by umpire Darrel Hair, paving the way for one of the most controversial storylines of the World Cup.