On this day in 1982: Sri Lanka play their first Test

Sri Lanka made a late entry into international cricket but were quick to establish themselves as one of the best teams across formats. They played their first international match during the 1975 World Cup against West Indies, where they lost by nine wickets.

Sri Lanka were rewarded a full-time membership in July 1981. They played their first-ever Test the next year against England. Since then, Sri Lanka have played 307 Test matches with 98 wins, 117 defeats, and 92 draws with a winning percentage of 31.92.

Sri Lanka hold some of the biggest team and individual records in Test cricket history. They hold the highest team score when they scored a record 952/6 total against India in 1997. The highest partnership in Test cricket is also held by Sri Lankan cricketers Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. The latter is the fifth-highest leading run-scorer in Test cricket history with 12400 runs at an average of 54.19. Mahela Jayawardene and Sanath Jayasuriya also contributed in Sri Lanka’s success while Mutthiah Muralidharan and Chaminda Vaas left a mark with a ball.

Sri Lanka’s first Test begins

In the first Test match of their history, Sri Lanka, led by former opener Bandula Warnapura, decided to bat first after winning the toss against Keith Fletcher’s England. However, Bob Willis quickly dismissed Warnapura for only two runs, leaving the hosts struggling at 34/4.

Duleep Mendis and Arjuna Ranatunga then played crucial innings. Their fifties helped Sri Lanka post 218 runs in their first innings. Despite Derek Underwood taking five wickets and Ian Botham grabbing three for England, Sri Lanka’s bowlers impressed in their first-ever Test outing, bowling out England for just 223 runs.

Ashantha de Mel took four wickets and Somachandra de Silva grabbed three for the hosts. In their second innings, Roy Dias scored 77 off 128, but Sri Lanka’s innings collapsed, managing just 175 runs with a 170-run lead. Though Ashantha dismissed Geoff Cook early, England comfortably chased down the target with seven wickets remaining.

While their first Test ended in a heavy defeat, Sri Lanka’s rise in international cricket across formats was just beginning.