The Ranjitha Premadasa stadium in Colombo is a vast cauldron where teams often spend a lucrative spell at the crease. With an enticingly flat, slow pitch, Sri Lanka’s largest venue is just the place to conjure up a few runs.
Since opening in 1986, the Premadasa international stadium has played host to more than 100 international matches. The first was a limited over contest against England and ever since it has been the perfect host for the short-game in Sri Lanka.
A revamp for the 2011 World Cup saw the stadium expand to seat 35,000. But in terms of numbers it’s a test match which provided the most memorable moment here. Batting against India in 1997, Sanath Jayasuriya (340) and Roshan Mahanama (225) combined to help rocket Sri Lanka to 952-6 – the highest ever test total.
The genius of Jayasuriya
The undisputed all-round talents of Sanath Jayasuriya helped catapult Sri Lanka up the cricket rankings in the 1990’s. Playing with aggression and artistry he revolutionised the way the world played limited over cricket.
During his career Jayasuriya scored a currently unmatched 12,000 runs and took more than 300 wickets in ODI competition. His ability with the bat and ball brought him the plaudit of Most Valuable Player of 1996 Cricket World Cup. It was on that stage that Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana mercilessly pummeled their rivals.
Recognising that they could build an innings quickly by taking advantage of the fielding rules the pair lofted balls over the heads of their opponents. Prior to 1996 teams had patiently built up a momentum but the Sri Lankans went for broke and it worked. In previous World Cups they had been plucky losers but now they emerged undefeated as world champions. The Sri Lankan model was so successful that it has now been adopted as the standard opening batting strategy in limited overs cricket.
Jayasuriya captained Sri Lanka from 1999 to 2003 and in 2008, at the tender age of 39, became the oldest player to compile a first-class century. In recognition of his all-round expertise, Sri Lanka Cricket installed Jayasuriya as chairman of their selection committee in 2013.
Since leaving cricket Jayasuriya has stamped his authority on a different field. Entering politics in 2010 he quickly rose up the batting order and is now a Deputy Minister of Postal Services in the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.