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As part of my round up of great cricket venues from around the world, it’s time to head to Sri Lanka. Here are some of the best cricket stadiums from within this spectacular country.
How Many International Cricket Grounds are in Sri Lanka?
The number of international grounds in Sri Lanka has varied since the country was confirmed as a full member of the ICC in the 1980s. In the present day, there are around eight stadiums that are used regularly by the national team.
That figure doesn’t include some of the following venues, which have previously hosted international cricket but are no longer in use.
Which is the Biggest Cricket Stadium in Sri Lanka?
The biggest cricket stadium in Sri Lanka is the R. Premadasa International Stadium in Colombo. Opened in 1986, its official capacity is listed at 35,000, but it has the capability of accommodating up to 40,000 spectators.
The R. Premadasa Cricket Stadium first hosted an international match in 1986 and it continues to be a regular venue on the Sri Lankan cricket circuit.
Best Cricket Stadiums in Sri Lanka
Galle International Cricket Stadium
If you’ve watched cricket from Sri Lanka then you should be familiar with the Galle Stadium. This is the venue that has the incredible fort on one side. It’s a spectacular setting and this remains as one of the most important sporting locations in the country.
The Galle International Cricket Stadium was originally built in 1876 as a race course. It was decided that it would be perfect for cricket too and school games were played here in the late 19th century.
From Sri Lanka’s inclusion into test cricket in 1982, it would take a while before the international game arrived in Galle. New Zealand were the visitors for the first test match that took place here in June 1998. Later in the same month, Sri Lanka hosted India in an ODI.
It’s widely regarded that the Galle Stadium is one of the most picturesque in world cricket, and it’s good to see it remain on the schedule.
R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium
We’ve already seen that the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo is the biggest stadium in Sri Lanka, and it’s also one of the best. The highlight for this venue came in 2012 when it played host to the T20 World Cup final between Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
Limited overs cricket remains the focus here. The first international game to take place at the R. Premadasa was an ODI between Sri Lanka and New Zealand in 1986. In contrast, test cricket arrived much later with Australia providing the opposition in the first red ball international in 1992. Limited overs games continue to take precedence over red ball cricket, but the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium remains a constant venue for touring teams.
Pallekele International Cricket Stadium
With an official capacity of 35,000, the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium is one of the biggest grounds in Sri Lanka. It’s also one of the busiest venues on the circuit and we can expect to see many more tests, ODIs and T20is being played here.
The stadium opened in 2009 as the team continued to become a force on the world stage. The first test match took place a year later as Sri Lanka welcomed the West Indies to Pallekele. With games being hosted in all three formats right up to the present day, the Pallekele International Stadium continues to be a popular choice for the national governing body.
Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium
Another impressive venue with a huge capacity of 35,000, the Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium is situated in Hambantota. The local government wanted to make their city the second most important cricket hub in the country, outside of Colombo, and they worked hard to get the ground ready for the 2011 World Cup.
The Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium opened two years earlier, in 2009, but the first international game here was part of that World Cup as Sri Lanka took on Canada on February 20th, 2011. T20 internationals are held here too, but the ground has yet to host a test match.
Tyrone Fernando Stadium
It’s now known as the De Soysa but many cricket fans will be familiar with this ground as the Tyrone Fernando Stadium. It’s one of the earliest venues to be used by Sri Lanka and its first international game was a One Day International against New Zealand in 1984.
The Tyrone Fernando Ground has also been used for test cricket, but only a handful of international games have been played here. It first opened in 1952 and has a generous capacity of 16,000 but, as other grounds have become more accessible, the Tyrone Fernando venue has fallen off the radar of Sri Lanka Cricket.
Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium
Located in Central Province, the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium is the only venue situated in Sri Lanka’s dry zone. This offers an obvious benefit with less likelihood of the rain intervening in matches.
It was purpose built for the Sri Lankan national cricket team and was opened in 2000. With a capacity of 16,800, the first international to be played here was an ODI against England in March 2001.
The Rangiri Dambulla Stadium has also held T20is and women’s international games, but there has yet to be a test match here.
While they were only recently admitted as a full test nation, cricket has been played in Sri Lanka for a long time. The Asgiriya Stadium in Candy is another venue with a long history and this ground was first opened back in 1915.
It has a capacity of 10,300 and was another location widely used when the country first became involved in the international game. The first senior international to be played here was a men’s test match between Sri Lanka and Australia in April 1983. Three years later, Pakistan were the visitors for its first ODI.
While it’s still a top class venue, there hasn’t been any international cricket at the Asgiriya Stadium since 2007.
P. Saravanamuttu International Cricket Stadium
Opened in 1945, the P. Saravanamuttu International Cricket Stadium frequently has its name shortened to the P. Sara Oval. It’s located in Colombo and this ground had the honor of hosting Sri Lanka’s first ever test match against England in 1982.
One Day International cricket followed a year later, but the restricted capacity of 15,000 means that the men’s national team haven’t visited the P. Sara Oval for some time. It does, however, continue to hold a number of women’s internationals.
Colombo Cricket Club Ground
The international stadium with the smallest capacity in the country, the Colombo Cricket Ground can hold up to a maximum of just 6,000 spectators. It was an important venue in the early days of Sri Lankan international cricket, and the first game played by the national team was a test match against New Zealand in 1984.
Only three tests have ever been played here, and the last of those came along in 1987. There have been a handful of women’s international games at the Colombo Cricket Club Ground, but the stadium remains on the periphery of the SLC’s plans.
Sinhalese Sports Club Ground
Traditionally, the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground has been the headquarters of the governing body within the country – Sri Lanka Cricket. For that reason, this stadium is sometimes called the ‘Lord’s of Sri Lanka’.
It was opened in 1952 and hosted many of the country’s early international games, but a smaller capacity of 10,000 means that it isn’t such a regular on today’s circuit. The first ever international game to take place at the Sinhalese Sports Ground was a One Day International between Sri Lanka and England in 1982. Test cricket followed in 1984 when the Sri Lankans took on New Zealand here.
Opened in 1972, the Welagedara Stadium in North Western Province has yet to really get going in terms of international cricket. That’s a real shame because this is another stunning location which enjoys a backdrop of mountain scenery.
Sri Lanka’s men’s team have yet to come here and that’s largely due to the fact that this ground has a limited capacity of just 10,000. The Welagedara Stadium has, however, hosted games at junior level, most notably at the 2000 Under 19 World Cup.
Women’s internationals have also taken place at this impressive location with the first WODI being contested between India and Pakistan at the Women’s Asia Cup in May 2008.
Sri Lankan cricket grounds always seem to provide a special atmosphere for international games. This is a popular sport in the country and, while the main focus is on limited overs cricket, attendances for test matches in Sri Lanka seem to be healthy.
In the present day, there are just a few stadiums hosting international cricket here, so it’s been interesting to go back through history to take a look at the wider list of grounds to have held Sri Lankan international games throughout the years.