Having impressed with Sri Lanka's Under-19s side, Pushpakumura made his Test debut in August 1994 against Pakistan, where he was noted as the fastest bowler Sri Lanka had had for many years. Despite his pace, his variation on duller pitches was lacking, and thus he failed to get into the Sri Lankan side on a regular basis. His best bowling figure in a Test innings is 7/116 which he made against Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club in 1994/95.
Pushpakumara could be viewed as another fast bowling prospect which failed to live up to expectation from Sri Lanka. Some started to call him "Wild Johnny" for his waiwerd lines he came up with more often than not.