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CWC Memories: Pakistan v Sri Lanka

With Pakistan and Sri Lanka currently facing off once more in an ODI series in the UAE, we look back at how the two sides have fared in meetings at the ICC Cricket World Cup.
Shahid Afridi

Pakistan and Sri Lanka have been frequent opponents on the cricket field with several memorable matches, meeting on a total of 218 occasions so far: in 53 Tests, 150 One-Day Internationals and 15 Twenty20 Internationals.

Of their 150 ODI meetings, seven have come during the ICC Cricket World Cup, spanning from the very first edition in 1975 to the 2011 tournament. Not only do Pakistan have a win ratio of 59.93% over Sri Lanka in ODIs, but they have won each of the seven matches when the two sides have clashed in a World Cup.

Pakistan’s first victory over Sri Lanka in a World Cup was their most convincing, winning by 192 runs in 1975. They were driven by Sadiq Mohammad (74), Majid Khan (84) and Zaheer Abbas (97) as they piled on the runs, finishing on 330 for 6 in their 60 overs. They then bowled Sri Lanka out for just 138.

Zaheer Abbas was among the runs when Pakistan first defeated Sri Lanka in 1975.
Zaheer Abbas was among the runs when Pakistan first defeated Sri Lanka in 1975.

The two sides didn’t meet in 1979, but pitted their wits against each other twice in 1983, when the tournament was held in England and Wales for the third time. The first match they played in the 1983 World Cup had the most runs of any of their meetings in the tournament’s history, with 626 scored overall as Pakistan won by 50 runs. The second match was closer, but the majesty of captain Imran Khan with the bat, who hit 102 not out, helped Pakistan win again despite a five-wicket haul by Asantha de Mel, Sri Lanka’s opening bowler.

Both teams faced each other twice in the next edition in 1987, too. This time, the first encounter was a much tighter affair, with Pakistan winning by 15 runs. The return fixture resulted in a much more comfortable win, by 113 runs. Both matches saw a century each for Pakistan, Javed Miandad reaching three figures in the first match and Saleem Malik doing so in the second. Pakistan topped Group B to qualify for the semi-finals – where it would lose to Australia – while Sri Lanka failed to win a game and was eliminated in the group stage itself.

Imran Khan's Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka en route its World Cup win in 1992.
Imran Khan's Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka en route its World Cup win in 1992.


The next time they both met in a World Cup was possibly among their more important matches. Pakistan was fighting to progress to the knockout stages of the 1992 edition, and a dramatic four-wicket win over Sri Lanka in Perth helped them achieve just that. Pakistan would famously go on to lift the trophy at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground under Imran Khan’s inspiring leadership.

After that thrilling match though, there was a 19-year waiting period before the two subcontinental giants would clash again. Their final World Cup meeting to this point came in 2011 on Sri Lankan soil in Colombo which remains the only time both sides met as former World Cup winners. Despite the home advantage, Sri Lanka couldn’t break through for a first-ever World Cup win against Pakistan, with Shahid Afridi, the captain, taking a four-wicket haul to make it seven wins in seven matches for Pakistan.

Sri Lanka will have another opportunity to break the duck with the two sides slated to meet in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and Wales.

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