Sri Lanka's international debut came in 1997 with a three match ODI series against The Netherlands, which they lost 2–1. This was part of their preparation for the World Cup in India the following month, in which they reached the quarter finals, losing to England. The following year they hosted a tour by Pakistan, winning the three ODIs as well as what was the first Test match for both countries. It remains Sri Lanka's sole Test match. The Netherlands toured Sri Lanka again in 1999, and this time the Sri Lankans were much more successful, winning all five ODIs.
Sri Lanka finished sixth in the 2000 World Cup, and their next international engagement was against Pakistan at home in 2002, winning all six ODIs. They also won all six ODIs in an away series against the West Indies the following year.
In 2004 they hosted the inaugural Women's Asia Cup, which was reduced to a series against India after the withdrawal of Pakistan. They lost the series. The following year they again finished sixth in the World Cup. In 2005/06, they visited Pakistan to take part in the second Asia Cup, finishing as runners up to India.