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March 12, 2024
Sri Lanka’s first big stage cup success trouncing star studded Pakistan by 5 wkts. in 1986 Asia Cup final

Sri Lanka Cricket

Arjuna Ranatunga (57), Aravinda de Silva (52) breathed early brimstone to SL Cricket

By Srian Obeyesekere

Sri Lanka’s first big international trophy success came in 1986, just five years since gaining full ICC membership when Duleep Mendis skippered the side to a resounding 5-wicket triumph over Pakistan in the final played at the Sinhalese Sports Club Grounds on April 6 in a round-robin tournament that saw Bangladesh replace India who did not make it largely due to security reasons due to the civil war. Then dubbed the John Player Gold Leaf Trophy.  It was indeed, a shot in the arm for Lankan cricket that had begun to progressively make its mark as the island nation brought down a mighty Pakistan outfit skippered by the likes of Imran Khan which included superstars such as Javed Miandad, Abdul Qadir and Wasim Akram which had threatened to take the pot of gold having beaten both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh with ease on the way to the finals.

But the Sri Lankans had other ideas with Mendis going on to stamp his name as Sri Lanka’s earliest of captains to have put his country on the world map. That this success came by way of half centuries from two of the country’s young trojans Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva who would one day ascend the summit of greatness to taking Sri Lanka to its greatest moment in time in winning cricket’s biggest jackpot the world cup1995-96 was center piece to that gradual ascension in becoming a major force in limited overs cricket.

Arjuna Ranatunga, in the brimstone of his career, played a typical lead role match winning sedate 57 off 55 balls with just the 2 boundaries, but was unfortunate not to have got the Player of the Match award which went to Pakistan’s Javed Miandad who scored 67 off 100 containing 4 boundaries. Ranatunga shared in a fourth-wicket partnership of 97 runs with Aravinda de Silva who made 52 off 67 with 2 boundaries. Upfront openers Brendon Kuruppa 30 off 50 with 4 boundaries and Roshan Mahanama 21 off 52 (1×4) put on 40, but following the exit of Mahanama one drop Asanka Gurusinha was out cheaply for 4 caught behind by Zulqarnain as Sri Lanka lost three quick wickets in the space of 24 runs with the score reading 64 for 3 becoming leg spinner Abdul Qadir’s second victim snapped up by Salim Malik in that snaring.

However, Ranatunga joined Aravinda de Silva in taking Sri Lanka out of that hollow to within sight of victory and when the skipper exited with the score on 161 for 4 caught by Mohsin Khan for Qadir’s third wicket, the job was good as done as the ever reliable De Silva took it to tying the scores on 191 when he departed caught by the substitute fielder off Mudassar Nazar that left skipper Duleep Mendis 22 off 18 (3×4) to finish it off in the company of next man in Roy Dias who faced just one delivery but did not get off the mark.

Pakistan, put into bat, was reeling on 72 for 5 before Javed Miandad played a characteristic innings in a rescue act together with Saleem Malik 23 off 27 (2×4) in adding 65 for the sixth-wicket as Pakistan reached 137 for 6 when Malik was caught and bowled by Don Anurasiri. Miandad was next out with the score on 179 caught by Ravi Ratnayake off Kaushik Amalean who went on to take the bowling honours for Sri Lanka with a haul of 4 for 45. . The total was propped up by Manzoor Elahi 37 off 52 with 3 boundaries and a six, and Abdul Qadir a quickfire 30 off 19 with 2 over the top and a boundary. Ravi Ratnayake took 2 for 50 while Ashantha de Mel and took 1 for 21 and Anurasiri 1 for 24.

Sri Lanka has to date a highly pleasing record of 5 Asia Cup titles from 14 attempts, having emerged runners-up in the inaugural edition.



PAKISTAN 191/9 (45 Overs) RR: 4.24

(Javed Miandad 76, Mansoor Elahi 37, Abdul Qadir 30, Saleem Malik 23, Kaushik Amalean 4/ 45,

Ravi Ratnayake 2/50, Ashantha de Mel 1/21, Don Anurasiri 1/24)


SRI LANKA 195/5 (42.2 Overs) RR: 4.60

(Arjuna Ranatunga 57, Aravinda de Silva 52, Brendon Kuruppu 30, Roshan Mahanama 21,

Duleep Mendis n.o. 22, Roy Dias n.o. 00, Abdul Qadir 3/32, Manzoor Elahi 1/30, Mudassar Nazar 1/49)

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