20 Best ODI Matches 20/20 : The Controversial Adelaide 1999 Match

Dive into the best ODI matches history, controversial Sri Lanka vs England, Adelaide 1999. A must-read tale of triumph on the field.

In this series of the 20 best ODI matches of all time, we have placed this match at number 20. The year was 1999 and the setting: a sun-drenched Adelaide Oval. On one side, a young Sri Lankan team hungry for glory, on the other, a seasoned English squad determined to retain their dominance. The air crackled with anticipation, for this was no ordinary one-day encounter. This was a clash of titans, a battle destined to be etched in the annals of cricket history. What unfolded on that fateful day was a masterclass in resilience, a display of unwavering determination that would leave fans breathless and rewrite the record books. Buckle up, for we’re about to embark on a journey through one of the greatest ODI matches ever played: Sri Lanka vs England in Adelaide, 1999.

Unraveling the Layers of Conflict

The cricket match in Adelaide in 1999 stands as an enduring testament to the tumultuous nature of sports and ranked 20th in one of the best ODI matches of all time. This encounter, often regarded as one of the most intense and controversial in cricket history, unfolded like a malevolent artichoke, layered with resentment, prejudice, personal antipathy, and historical injustices. For avid sports fans, this combination promised not just a game but a captivating spectacle, delivering one of the greatest chases ever witnessed.

A National Frustration and Arjuna Ranatunga’s Resolve

The historical aspect of the match had a dual nature. Nationally, Sri Lanka found themselves at a juncture of frustration, consistently treated as an afterthought by their arrogant English counterparts. Arjuna Ranatunga, the leader of the Sri Lankan team, had grown weary of this treatment. The Adelaide encounter emerged as a pivotal moment for him to assert his team’s worth and challenge the prevailing status quo.

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Sri Lanka’s Strategic Advantages

Sri Lanka entered the Adelaide encounter armed with two remarkable advantages. Firstly, they held the prestigious title of reigning World Champions in ODI cricket. Secondly, their historic 1996 triumph included a resounding defeat of England in the quarter-final clash—a victory so dominant that it etched a significant mark in cricket history. These factors, coupled with their convincing performance in a one-Test visit to England in 1998, positioned Sri Lanka as a formidable force.

The Controversial Element: Murali’s Chucking Returns

A contentious element in the Adelaide narrative was the return of Muthiah Muralidaran, the spin wizard who had faced no-ball controversies for chucking in Brisbane three years prior. In a peculiar twist of fate, the same umpires, Ross Emerson and Tony McQuillan, were back on the field for the Adelaide match. With all the ingredients for controversy already present, what ensued was more than just a cricket match; it was a stage set for renewed contention.

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Ranatunga’s DEFCON 1 Escalation

The crucial moment unfolded in the 18th over of England’s innings when Emerson no-balled Murali. Ranatunga, ever the fiery leader, escalated the situation to DEFCON 1 with a pointed confrontation, leading his team off the field. This sparked a 12-minute standoff, with phone calls buzzing between senior board officials. Ranatunga’s actions not only defended his team but set the tone for the rest of the match—an unyielding stand against perceived injustices.

Jayawardene’s Heroics Amidst Chaos

Amidst the chaos, a young Mahela Jayawardene emerged as a beacon of composure and skill. His remarkable innings of 120 from 111 balls, marking his first overseas hundred, stood out as a testament to his talent and resilience. Jayawardene’s batting prowess defied the turmoil surrounding the match and brought Sri Lanka back into contention.

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Tension and Drama Unfolding

As the match progressed, tension heightened with run-outs, confrontations, and a simulated headbutt. Darren Gough’s terse exchange of words added to the drama, turning the cricket field into a theatre of emotions. This was not just a game; it was a dramatic narrative unfolding, with each over adding a new twist to the tale.

Mahanama’s Misjudgment and Murali’s Heroic Swing

With five runs needed and eight balls remaining, Roshan Mahanama’s misjudged attempt at a run added another layer of drama to the contest. However, in a twist of fate, it set the stage for Murali and Pramodya Wickramasinghe to secure the victory. A series of tense singles, including a leg-side wide and a careless overthrow, suddenly brought the scores level, with Murali back on strike. With a powerful swing, a thick outside edge off Vince Wells, and Sri Lanka emerged victorious in a grudge match for the ages.

In the annals of cricket history, the Adelaide 1999 cricket match will be remembered not just for the runs scored or wickets taken but as a chronicle of controversy, resilience, and the triumph of the human spirit on the cricket field.