Since 1985, India have played 21 bilateral - no tri-series or multi-team tournaments - one-day matches in Sri Lanka, winning nine and losing nine (three were no-results). Ahead of their ODI series against Sri Lanka starting July 21, we take a look back at previous bilateral series between the two teams.
1985-86 – series shared 1-1
The first, in the 1985-86 season, was a three-match series in Colombo that was leveled 1-1 after the final ODI was washed out. India won the opening match – the first meeting between the two countries in Sri Lanka - at the SSC by two wickets with three balls remaining. Chasing 242, India sneaked home after Dilip Vengsarkar’s 66-ball 89 and Ravi Shastri's 67 off 102 balls propped up their run-chase.
Sri Lanka squared the series in the second match, which was badly affected by rain and reduced to 28 overs per side. The hosts, driven by Ranjan Madugalle's unbeaten 39-ball 50, posted 171 for 5 and won by 14 runs despite another brisk half-century from Vengsarkar.
The decider was washed out, with Sri Lanka reeling at 32 for 4 chasing a rain-reduced target of 72 in 15 overs after India made 194 in 40 overs, Vengsarkar hitting another half-century. He was duly adjudged the Man of the Series.
1993 – Sri Lanka won 2-1
India toured in the summer of 1993 and this time failed to achieve their first ODI series win on Sri Lankan soil. The visitors stole the first match at the Khettarama Stadium (as it was called then) by one run to take the advantage, barely. Chasing 213, Sri Lanka slipped from 161 for 2 to 196 for 7 and entered the last over needing five to win. A flurry of wickets saw them slump to 208 for 9, and when Manoj Prabhakar yorked Pramodya Wickramasinghe India had snuck a humdinger.
The first floodlit match between the two countries drew the biggest crowd of the tour, estimated at 40,000. This time it was India who stumbled in pursuit of a low total. Chasing Sri Lanka's 204 for 7, which included just one half-century – skipper Arjuna Ranatunga's 52-ball 50 – India needed 30 runs from eight overs with seven wickets in hand they imploded to be bowled out for 196 in 49.2 overs.
Sri Lanka won the series at Moratuwa with a four-wicket chase of a target of 228, with Roshan Mahanama retiring hurt on 92 on 213 for 3. A brief stumble ensued, but the hosts held on to clinch victory. During India's innings, Mohammad Azharuddin surpassed Kri Srikkanth as his country's leading run-scorer in ODIs.
1997 – Sri Lanka won 3-0
Four years later, a much stronger Sri Lanka side - riding high on their World Cup-winners status – swept India. The first game at the R Premadasa was a nail-biter which Sri Lanka won by two runs, after a bullish 73 from Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu's maiden ODI century laid the platform for a total of 302 for 4. India's top four batsmen were all back inside the dressing room in 11 overs, but a world-record fifth-wicket partnership between Azharuddin (111*) and Ajay Jadeja (119) nearly took India home.
An easier win followed in the second ODI, as Sri Lanka kept India to 238, out of which Sourav Ganguly made 113. A collapse of six wickets for 26 runs was the major reason for India's poor total – Muttiah Muralitharan became his country's second 100-wicket man in the process - and the target was achieved in the 42nd over thanks to fifties to Jayasuriya, Mahanama and Aravinda de Silva
India were in with a good chance to claim their first win of the series during the final match at the SSC, but the rain arrived to ruin their chances. Robin Singh's first and last ODI century took the visitors to 291 and he then took 3 for 20 to reduce Sri Lanka to 132 for 6 in the 19th over when the showers arrived.
The match was replayed the next day, and Sri Lanka maintained their dominance. A ninth ODI century from de Silva helped the hosts recover from the early exits of Jayasuriya and Atapattu, and wicketkeeper Lanka de Silva's maiden half-century helped the total to 264. India got themselves to 221 for 4 before Azharuddin and Jadeja were run out; needing 38 from five overs, India crumbled in the face of some brilliant fielding and fell ten runs short.
2006 – no result
The three-match series in the summer of 2006 was called off after 22 balls due to terrible monsoon weather.
2008 – India won 3-2
India finally won their first bilateral series in Sri Lanka, under MS Dhoni. Sri Lanka thrashed them in the series opener in Dambulla, bowling India out for 146 in 46 overs before skipping past the finish line with eight wickets and 91 balls remaining.
Dhoni's team scrapped to a series-leveling win in the second ODI in Dambulla, this time bowling Sri Lanka out for 142 in 38.3 over with Zaheer Khan claiming four wickets. India's chase was not as straightforward as Sri Lanka's had been, but the debutant S Badrinath kept his nerve to score an unbeaten 27 and negate any further threat from mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis.
A 2-1 lead came as the series shifted back to Colombo. Dhoni (76) and Suresh Raina (53) got India to 237 on a slow pitch at the Premadasa, and then the bowlers rallied to clinch a 33-run win. The series win came in the next match at the same venue, as India won by 58 runs. Fifties to young Virat Kohli, Raina and Dhoni formed the crux of India's 258, and yet again the bowlers did their job to bowl Sri Lanka out well short of their target.
The fifth and final match was inconsequential, and Sri Lanka's bowlers secured a consolation win to ensure their side maintained its record of not losing four consecutive ODIs at home.
2008-09 – India won 4-1
Another series win under Dhoni, this time by a bigger margin. A strong chase in Dambulla gave India the first match by six wickets, with Gautam Gambhir, Raina and Dhoni doing the job after Sri Lanka made 246 with a nearing-40 Jayasuriya scoring his 28th century.
Back at the Premadasa, India made 256 with a single fifty – Yuvraj Singh's 66 – and held on for a 15-run victory with Ishant Sharma taking the Man-of-the-Match award for his four wickets. The series was attained four nights later by a 147-run margin, thanks to a strong batting performance. Centuries to Virender Sehwag (116 off 90 balls) and Yuvraj (117 off 95) powered India to 363 for 5; in reply, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 216. Pragyan Ojha's left-arm spin netted him 4 for 38 and Yuvraj took the wicket of Nuwan Kulasekara to pip Sehwag to the Man-of-the-Match award.
In the fourth ODI it was Gambhir's turn to pick up a century (150) as India marched to their longest winning streak – nine matches – with a comprehensive 67-run win. Chasing 333, 62 more than the highest-ever chased at the Premadasa, Sri Lanka started well but couldn't overcome India's medium-pacers. During this match, Murali became the highest wicket-taker in ODIs, going past Wasim Akram's haul of 502 wickets.
Sri Lanka won the dead rubber by 68 runs, having made 320 – Tillakaratne Dilshan 97, Kumar Sangakkara 84 – before the bowlers collectively kept India to 252.