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india Updated: Jan 25, 2003 17:42 IST
Manish Verma
Manish Verma

Winners: Sri Lanka

Runners-up: Australia

Group A: Sri Lanka, Australia, India, Kenya, Zimbabwe, West Indies

Group B: South Africa, Pakistan, New Zealand, England, UAE, Netherlands

Sponsored by Wills, the 1996 World Cup began not on a very high note opening ceremony at the Eden Gardens as Tamil Tigers exploded a bomb in Colombo which led to loss of 80 lives. And Aussies and the West Indians rightly refused to play their opening matches in the city.

Both teams forfeited their matches against Sri Lanka. The league games were hardly of any interest, producing one-sided result. But the biggest upset of the World Cup was the Kenya’s win over West Indies at Poona. In the 1996 World Cup, Sri Lankan openers, Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwithrana set the new benchmark of exploiting the first 15-over limitations. It was Sri Lankan display under the captaincy of Arjuna Ranatunga that took everyone by surprise.

The first semi-final between India and Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens was the first match to be awarded by default. The match stated in a sensational way when Sri Lanka lost Jayasuriya and Kaluwithrana were back in the hutch in Srinath’s first over. But Aravinda came in and counter-attacked Indian seamers in his 47-ball 66. The contributions from Roshan Mahanama, Ranatunga, Tilakratne and late-order assault by Vass helped Sri Lanka set India 252-run target.

India were on course to a place in finals, well-placed at 98/1. But what happened after that was something that will remain in the hearts of many India cricket followers. India lost their next seven wickets for 22 runs and collapsed to 120/8. The crowd estimated to be 1 lac erupted and hurled missiles at the Sri Lankan outfielders.

In an unprecedented move, match referee Clive Llyod awarded the match to Sri Lanka and Indian World Cup campaign ended on an ugly note.

The second semi-final at Mohali under lights was equally exciting. Electing to bat, Australia got off to a dreadful start losing their four wickets for 15 runs. Michael Bevan and Stuart Law put on 138 to bring Aussie innings back on track and Healy chipped in with quick-fire 31 to take Australia to a respectable 207/8.

In reply, West Indies were marching along at 165/2, lost their last eight wickets for 37 runs with champion leg-spinner Shane Warne instrumental in collapse. Australia won the game by five runs.

The final was played between Australia and Sri Lanka at Gadaffi Stadium, Lahore. It was first time in Pakistan that a limited overs match was played under floodlights. All five previous finals had been one by the side batting first, but Ranatunga inserted Australia in after winning the toss, not wanting to field under the lights as the dew fell. Aussie skipper Mark Taylor looked in supreme form and played some wonderful shots in his knock of 74. He along with Ricky Ponting (45) put on 101 for the second wicket and Aussies posted 241.

This total looked well out of Lankan reach once both openers were removed cheaply. Aravinda de Silva, along with Gurusinha and Ranatunga guaranteed a convincing seven-wicket win. De Silva remained unfinished on 107 with 13 fours and six and rightly got the Man of the Match.

First Published: Jan 24, 2003 19:31 IST