Chandimal on verge of Sri Lankan record

Vice-captain joins three Sri Lankan legends with fifth consecutive fifty, one innings away from an exclusive group

Sanath Jayasuriya couldn't do it. Aravinda De Silva and Mahela Jayawardene couldn't do it. Even the great Kumar Sangakkara couldn't do it.

But Dinesh Chandimal might.

The 26-year-old Sri Lankan, his team's highest-scorer in their three-wicket loss to Australia in Colombo on Sunday, is just one half-century away from becoming the first man from the island nation – and just the seventh in history – to score 50 or more in six consecutive One-Day International innings.

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The right-hander's unbeaten 80 at the Premadasa Stadium on Sunday, which came on the back of his seventh Test century last week, was his fifth in consecutive ODIs stretching back to his innings of 52 in the second match against England at Edgbaston in June.

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Having finished the series in the UK with scores of 62, 63 and 53, Chandimal's performance against the Australians on Sunday put him alongside Jayasuriya, Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan as the only Sri Lankans to pass 50 in five consecutive ODI innings.

Surprisingly, none of Chandimal's five half-centuries have come in victories, with Sri Lanka losing four matches (three against England, one against Australia) while the third ODI in Bristol was washed out early in England's run chase.

As impressive as his feat is, it's far from unprecedented. Chandimal is the 25th man in history to do so and the second this year after England's Alex Hales notched scores of 57, 99, 65, 50 and 112 against South Africa earlier this year.

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But a half-century in Chandimal's next match will elevate him into a very elite group.

Only five men have scored 50 or more in six consecutive ODI innings; West Indies opener Gordon Greenidge (in 1979-80), New Zealand's Andrew Jones (1988-89), Australia's Mark Waugh (1999), Pakistan's Mohammad Yousuf (2003 when he was known as Yousuf Youhana) and New Zealand's Kane Williamson (2015).

Both Yousuf and Williamson fell just short of making it seven consecutive scores of 50 or more; the Pakistani scored 49 in the innings before his run of six began, while Williamson's streak of six was bookended by scores of 45 and 47.

Javed Miandad during his streak of nin e consecutive fifties in 1987 // Getty
Javed Miandad during his streak of nine consecutive fifties in 1987 // Getty

The exclusive group of five, which Chandimal could join with a fifty in his next match, trails the all-time record of Pakistan legend Javed Miandad, who posted an incredible nine consecutive 50+ scores between March and October 1987.

While history beckons for Chandimal, he may have to wait before he gets his chance to break the Sri Lankan record due to a rib injury that has him in doubt for the second ODI against Australia on Wednesday.

The right-hander was struck in the ribs in the 42nd over of Sri Lanka's innings on Sunday when an off-cutter Moises Henriques leapt off the dry surface and hit him in the chest, resulting in a delay of several minutes while he was assessed by the team's medical staff.

While Chandimal was able to finish his innings, the injury prevented him from wicketkeeping in the run chase and skipper Angelo Mathews confirmed after the match his vice-captain is no guarantee to play on Wednesday. 

"We'll see how Chandi goes in the next couple of days and we'll make a decision on that," Mathews said.

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Fifties in consecutive ODI innings

9 - Javed Miandad (Pakistan, 1987)
(78, 78*, 74*, 60, 52*, 113, 71*, 68, 103)

6 - Gordon Greenidge (West Indies, 1979-80)
(85*, 50, 80, 98*, 103, 78)

6 - Andrew Jones (New Zealand, 1988-89)
(57, 55*, 62*, 67, 82, 63*)

6 - Mark Waugh (Australia, 1999)
(63, 83*, 85, 65, 57, 65)

6 - Yousuf Youhana (Pakistan, 2003)
(106, 65, 94*, 52, 68, 65)

6 - Kane Williamson (New Zealand, 2015)
(93, 118, 90, 50, 97, 90)

Meg Lanning Steve Smith