World Cup (cricket): 1996

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The Wills World Cup

Venue: The Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka)

Participating teams: Australia, England, India, Kenya, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, the West Indies, Zimbabwe

Kenya and Zimbabwe were included.

Winners: Sri Lanka, defeating Australia in the final.

Semifinal of WC 1996, a day to forget for Indians

From the archives, Nov 16, 2023: The Times of India

Kolkata : Thursday would be the second time that the Eden Gardens will host an ODI World Cup semifinal. The first, on March 13, 1996 remains etched in memory for all the wrong reasons. It was the day when an unruly crowd prevailed and an international match had to be abandoned due to trouble in the stands.

The contest between India, led by Mohammad Azharuddin and Arjuna Ranatunga’s Sri Lanka, was awarded to the latter by match referee Clive Lloyd after bottles rained into the ground and stands were set on fire. India as such were on the brink of defeat, but it’s not the way a match should end.

A crowd of around one lakh ten thousand fetched up to shout India into the final. So far so good and when Azharuddin won the toss and decided to field, expecting turn, there was a murmur of excitement. The murmur grew into a roar when Sri Lanka were reduced to 35 for 3 with Sanath Jayasuriya, Romesh Kaluwitharana and Asanka Gurusinha back in the pavilion.

However, Aravinda de Silva, who was later named Player of the Match, stood like a defiant rock, thwarting India’s attempt to control the game. He was the next man to depart for 66. Roshan Mahanama grafted for his 55 before retiring hurt and Ranatunga with a gritty 35, ensured Sri Lanka ended at a decent 251/8.

The India chase too got off to a poor start with Navjot Sidhu being dismissed early. However, Sachin Tendulkar played another classy innings of 65 and with Sanjay Manjrekar, took the score to 98. It was his dismissal, stumped by Romesh Kaluwitharana off Sanath Jayasuriya, that triggered a collapse and the subsequent mayhem. From 98 for one, India were reduced to 120 for 8. The rumbling in the stadium grew louder and when Aashish Kapoor became the eighth wicket to fall, the crowd just lost its cool.

Plastic bottles and fruits started raining on the ground. Some officials later claimed a few glass bottles were also used as missiles.

Ranatunga put his foot down and decided to lead his team out of the ground even as the officials tried to persuade him to continue. He was not budging from his stand.

Sri Lanka did return after around 20 minutes, but even before Muttiah Muralitharan could bowl the second ball of the 35th over, more bottles flew into the ground. Fire was lit at various places in the stands and Lloyd, after consultation with umpires Cyril Mitchley and Steve Dunne, announced that the match could not proceed further.

Vinod Kambli, who was at the crease with a laboured 10 runs, was seen pleading with the officials to allow the game to continue, tears streaming down his cheeks. But the decision had been made and there was no going back.

‘I was hit with eggs and tomatoes’: Aqib Javed recalls

Nov 14, 2023: The Indian Express

“Now, we can’t even criticize this team after their poor display in the World Cup. They are lucky. After 1996 World Cup what happened with me was a horrible experience. We were scared when we left India,” Aqib Javed said on SUNO NEWS.

“At the airport even security people were not there to help us out. We were not sure how we would reach home. Stones were pelted at my house, mob tried to burn my house down. I was hit with eggs and tomatoes on the head,” recalled Javed.

Aqib, who has played 22 Tests and 163 ODIs for Pakistan and was member of the 1992 World Cup winning team recalled how mob tried to lynch him at the airport in Pakistan.

“Our bus stopped. I stepped out of it and, I saw people running towards me. The bus driver started the bus. I was stranding there with by bag and started running. Suddenly, a Jeep came, four people pushed me inside and I thought I am dead. Luckily, It was my cousin, who was in police, he came there to rescue me,” said Javed.

“In comparison to us, no one has done anything to this team. People are saying we criticize a lot. It’s nothing. We create a false hope before every big tournament but deep down we know that this team will finish fifth or sixth. They have proved this in the past three World Cups,” he said.

Javed also slammed captain Babar Azam and said he should be sacked and replace with Shaheen Shah Afridi, who has guided Lahore Qalandars to back-to-back Pakistan Super League (PSL) title.

“They are saying ‘oh don’t say anything to Babar’. If he is a good captain, has he won anything at any level.

“You can’t make a captain. It’s either he is a captain or he is not. Virat Kohli was captain for so long, but has he won anything?

“Why Rohit Sharma is a good captain because he has won five titles in the IPL. Kohli has done nothing in the IPL nor with the national team. Same is with Babar, he has not won a single trophy in PSL nor with the senior team.

“Sarfaraz won the U-19 World Cup in 2006, and then Champions League in 2017. he led Quetta to the tile in the PSL. Has Babar at any stage has shown any glimpse of a good captain. Shaheen has won two titles in the PSL. We have picked the entire team from the PSL but not the captain. We must change the captain and Babar must realise has he done justice to the captaincy,” he said.

India vs Pakistan

IANS | Feb 12, 2015 India vs Pakistan: World Cup history <>Mail Today Bureau March 30, 2011 | India vs Pakistan world cup semi finals: Rivalry over the years <>The Times of India Feb 14 2015 A FABLED RIVALRY

MARCH 9,1996

(2nd Qf)

M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore

India (287/8), Pakistan (248/9), India won by 39 runs

Man Of The Match: Navjot Singh Sidhu (93)

This quarter-final match, played at a packed M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, was keenly-contested. While opener Navjot Singh Sidhu scored an authoritative 93 to set India a strong platform, middle-order batsman Ajay Jadeja put the finishing touches to the innings, blasting a 25-ball 45 -- being particularly severe on pacer Waqar Younis -- to enable India post a commanding 287 for eight on the board.

Pakistan made a spirited start with an 84-run opening stand between Aamer Sohail and Saeed Anwar. Pakistan's response was aggressive and their openers Saeed Anwar and Aamir Sohail threatened to take the match away. But a middle-order collapse, triggered by tight slow bowling by spinners Anil Kumble and Venkatpathy Raju, guided India to victory, despite the best efforts of veteran batsmen Javed Miandad and Salim Malik.

Ajay Jadeja played a key role 1996 WC quarters.Ajay Jadeja played a key role 1996 WC quarters.Ajay Jadeja scored a quickfire 45 off 25 balls and was particularly severe on Waqar Younis. Later, when Aamir Sohail was going great guns, Venkatesh Prasad cleaned him up to end an ugly Sohail-Prasad spat.

India's victory snapped Pakistan's three-match winning streak against them since the 1992 World Cup. It was also Pakistan's first ODI loss in India since March 1987.

Brief scores:

India 287/8 (N Sidhu 93, S Tendulkar 31, A Jadeja 45; W Younis 2/67, M Ahmed 2/56)

Pakistan 248/9 (A Sohail 55, S Anwar 48, S Malik 38, J Miandad 38; V Prasad 3/45, A Kumble 3/48).

Aravinda de Silva

Ayaz Memon India Today February 5, 2015 | World Cup highlights: When the greats got going

124 balls.

107 Runs


Sixes- 0

Aravinda de Silva's sobriquet 'Mad Max' would suggest he was a batsman of reckless daredevilry, but he could be a marauder just as well as being a maestro. The 1996 World Cup was to provide examples of both these sterling facets of his batsmanship.

In the semis, Aravinda launched into a sizzling counterattack against India that fetched him 66 off just 47 deliveries. In the final against Australia, Aravinda was a study in contrast, playing with deep resolve and responsibility to lead his team to victory.

Mad Max he may be, but there was a method to Aravinda's madness that spelt greatness.

1996 WC FINAL || Australia v Sri Lanka || LAHORE

Henry Blofeld recalls (The Times of India):

This was of course the World Cup where the phrase pinch hitting became popular with Sri Lanka openers Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana. We hadn't really heard the phrase until then. Nor had we really heard of those two batsmen. Of course, they both went on to have very long careers. That win over Australia was the real catalyst for Sri Lanka to move forward. I don't know how many World Cup matches Sri Lanka had won before 1996 but I am sure you could count them on one hand. And here they were in the final and beating Australia. Ironically there wasn't a great deal of pinch hitting in that match. It was a magical innings from Aravinda De Silva that did it in the end.

Memories in Pakistan

Avijit Ghosh, Oct 14, 2023: The Times of India

Memory is an unreliable walking stick. It bends with time. And for many of us, the spring of 1996 wasn't just another time; it was another life. It was a time when the Internet was an infant, when barring the editor nobody owned a mobile phone, when articles would be faxed and costly calls made for confirmation.

But as I rustle through old newspapers, now yellow and brittle, and flip through my articles, memories of those 10 days in Pakistan come alive like the clear light of day.It was my first reporting trip abroad. The times were tense, by '90s standards. Till then, I had experienced Pakistan through the prism of what I had read and heard. I was a mix of curiosity, thrill and wariness when I boarded the PIA flight to the country of Noor Jehan and Hasan Sardar, Hanif Mohammed and Shehnaz Sheikh, the land where Saadat Hasan Manto died and where Raj Kapoor was born.

The guy sitting next to me was the first Pakistani I spoke to. He was from Gujranwala. "If you get into an argument with anyone, tell him you are from Gujranwala, he will immediately back off. Everyone is scared of us," he said with glee and pride. I knew it was going to be an interesting trip.

The first feeling on landing was one of familiarity. The airport was undergoing repairs. Black pipes were strewn around. A road roller, looking gaunt and grotesque, sat next to a couple of aircraft. If one could ignore the men in salwar-kameez, the preferred male attire in these parts, one could have been back home.

The immigration and the customs took as much time as a Hindi film song. I was gobsmacked by the taxi stand outside. In Lahore, the choices were Suzukis, Toyotas, Daewoos, even a Mercedes, if you could afford one.

On the cable TV in the hotel room, I found Geetanjali Aiyar smiling at me. Switching channels, I chanced upon Tara, then a popular soap on Zee and wondered if I was still in India. I loafed about in the glitzy Liberty market and found upscale ladies carrying the film gossip mag Stardust in vanity bags. I wanted to make a call back home but there were no phone booths around. I made the call from the hotel and later visited Pace, a plush multi-storeyed mall then owned by Imran Khan. I hadn't seen anything comparable in Delhi.

My next stop was Faisalabad, earlier known as Lyallpur, but renamed after Saudi Arabia's King Faisal. A photographer from ABP and I haggled hard with a taxi driver for the two-and-half hour drive. He quoted Rs 2,000, our counter offer was Rs 1,500. We settled for Rs 1,600. The taxi drove through old Lahore. Tongas and Toyotas, buffaloes and BMWs jostled in a place pulsating with flavours of old life and smells of kebabs. We passed by Lahore fort and the iconic Badshahi mosque.

Out of town, we came to a bridge and found men, children and buffaloes bathing by the river as in India. Our taxi driver Iqbal told us it was the Ravi, and I was reminded that here, somewhere on its banks, the tricolour was first unfurled and Poorna Swaraj declared as the goal during the Congress' annual session on Dec 31, 1929. "The actual venue is a little away from the bridge," the cabbie said. We were pleasantly surprised at his historical awareness.

Some scenes are embossed in memory. One, a buggy with a horse being carted on a lorry. "It must be on its way to a wedding in some remote village," Iqbal said.

The markets in Faisalabad town are laid out in the shape of the Union Jack, we were told. Fittingly, it was England taking on Sri Lanka in the quarter-final game at the Iqbal Stadium. By the time the game reached midway, most of us lost interest. Eyes now were automatically drawn towards the TV screen where India and Pakistan were locked in a jittery day-and-night encounter in Bangalore. Everyone in Pakistan was convinced that theirs was the better team. But they seem wary of Tendulkar. On the day, Sidhu scored the big runs but Jadeja landed blows none expected. Pakistan boomed at the beginning, but by the time we reached the hotel, India were on top. After the last wicket fell, the town went deathly quiet.

We flew to Karachi the next day and were taken to the press club before checking into a hotel. During the bus ride, a prominent sports journalist sang "Hum haarenge", parodying "Hum jeetenge", the team's anthem composed for the Cup. Everyone was sad and blamed Pakistan's reckless batting. I didn't come across anybody praising India's performance. At the National Stadium the next day, the boisterous crowd backed the West Indies against South Africa in another quarterfinal. The Caribbeans won.

At the airport on our way back to India, a fellow journalist's baggage looked ready to burst. "We are journalists and your guests. And we are going home. Why trouble us?," he said in Punjabi. The man at the counter smiled and waved us on.

Arjuna Ranatunga on SL's triumph

We changed the rules forever, almost by chance

The opening gambit defined our World Cup win of 1996. And by 1999, almost every team in the world had opening batsmen who attacked from the word go from both sides

Arjuna Ranatunga India Today February 5, 2015 |

Arjuna Ranatunga led Sri Lanka to victory in the 1996 World Cup

Whenever the 1996 World Cup is spoken about, everybody thinks it was brave of the Sri Lankan team's think tank, led by me, to go ahead and open with two unheralded batsmen. Flattering as it might sound, it's not entirely true.

The story actually predates the World Cup by a few years.

Sanath Jayasuriya, then a young, exciting, if impetuous, young batsman, had been batting with Roshan Mahanama in 1994. Back then, Sanath was a left-arm spinner who could grab a few runs in the lower order. However, I sensed Sanath could do more with his batting. He seemed to possess the self-belief and stroke play that could make him a devastating opening batsman. By the time the World Cup came around, Sanath was quite well settled into his role as opener. A fine balance to the classical style of Mahanama. While the latter held one end up, Sanath would go his merry way trying to take the bowling apart, often losing his wicket in the process.

It was in 1996 that we serendipitously discovered that the future lay in firepower at both ends. We were touring Australia in what was a fiery, controversial and intense series. Mahanama was not at his best and everyone felt we needed to experiment at the top of the order, at least I thought that was the way ahead. I told Duleep Mendis, who was our manager on that tour, that we should try Romesh Kaluwitharana as a partner to Sanath. Kalu, like Sanath, had started off as a lower middle order batsman who liked to play big shots. He used to bat at number six and made handy contributions in the lower middle-order. There was really nothing to distinguish him as a potentially gifted opener. No wonder then that coach Dav What more expressed his scepticism about the plan. But once Duleep and I were on board, Dav too went along with the plan. Kalu had gathered many 30s and 40s at the time and was invariably stranded without partners. He relished the opener's slot and approached batting at the top with an attitude hitherto unseen in world cricket.

We had an uncomplicated plan. In those days, way before power play and other batsman-friendly plans had been put in place, we told Sanath and Kalu to bat with the aim of scoring 100 to 120 runs in the first 15 overs. It was a brave strategy, but I was emboldened by the fact that we had a very strong middle order. Asanka Gurusinghe, Aravinda de Silva, yours truly, Roshan Mahanama and Hashan Tillakaratne made for a solid batting line-up. So even if our young team mates fell in their quest to reach 120, there were enough solid guys at the back end. Looking back, it was an experienced middle-order that allowed Sanath and Kalu to blossom. And going ahead from then on, while it's the openers who get the kudos, the plan only really works when there are quality batsmen to either defend when they fail or really launch on their early attacking batting to pile up a big score. The plan of attacking openers might never have taken off if we did not have such a fine middle-order.

It was also around 1994 that Sri Lanka had begun to focus on a good support team. Dav had joined a little earlier, during our tour of Pakistan. I have always felt that one of Dav's greatest strengths was that he identified areas we needed help in. He was the first guy to identify that we were well below international standards in fitness. He hired Alex Kontouri, who worked at getting us into the best shape we could be in. Fielding was the clear improvement but there were other benefits. With fitness, our energy and alertness seemed to reach new levels and this started reflecting in our batting as well. We progressed rather rapidly from a passable fielding side to one that could match top fielding sides, dive for dive, save for save. Dav managed to focus on areas that needed improvement and never interfered in anything else. Trouble areas such as running between the wickets were sorted out with innovative drills.

The other area that got a boost was bowling. From our entry into cricket, Sri Lanka had always been a team that excelled in batting but never quite had the bowling to make those runs count. Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas were new names on the team list and they were very good prospects. Alex worked well with them to make them strong and able to bowl through intense tours. Both went on to have long careers, and a lot of the credit must go to Alex and Dav.

A long, intense campaign needs a unified and tight think tank. Duleep, Dav, Aravinda and I were able to work together to strategise and keep calm through the entire tournament. Duleep was really supportive and let me take some difficult selection calls because he saw the courage in my convictions. I knew that given the team I wanted, we could challenge the favourites.

The turning point for the campaign was the match against India in Delhi. India posted a huge total on the back of a century by Sachin Tendulkar. However, Sanath blazed to an even more sensational century, proving that the strategy was working like a charm. Beating India, one of the favourites in the tournament, in India was a huge boost to our self-belief. We felt for the first time that we could dream of going all the way. However, it was important to stay focused on each game.

I also remember the semi-final clearly. Thanks to our strategy, we preferred chasing. However, one look at the wicket and we felt that it would not last 100 overs and that chasing would be hard. In that game, Sanath the bowler came to the fore, and it was an unbelievable way in which the game ended, signalling our first entry into a World Cup final.

But it is the opening gambit that defines the World Cup win of 1996. By the time the next World Cup came around, every team in the world was planning and playing their innings like Sanath and 'little Kalu' did in 1996. However, our mindset and approach was one that has remained with me. We resolved to not get pressured by expectations or the desire to win the World Cup. Instead, we planned to take one game at a time.

The reason Sri Lanka will always be remembered for the 1996 World Cup win is the fact that we transformed the strategy of one-day cricket. By 1999, almost every team in the world had opening batsmen who attacked from the word go.

Fascinating facts about World Cups

Author: MS Ramakrishnan, Bangalore, Thu, Jan 22 2015 CricBuzz 1 <>CricBuzz 2 <>CricBuzz 3 <>CricBuzz 4 <>CricBuzz 5<> The Times of India Feb 14 2015 Controversies Which Rocked WC

1994: Miandad comes out of retirement to play six Worlds Cups Javed Miandad returned to international cricket just 10 days after announcing his retirement in 1994. Pakistan's Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto had a discussion with Miandad, after which the star batsman decided to change his mind. Featuring in the 1996 World Cup, Miandad became the first cricketer to play six World Cups.

1996: Inauspicious start to a World Cup The 1996 World Cup began with a whimper as the opening ceremony in Calcutta suffered galling lapses. Saaed Jaffrey, who starred in the Oscar-winning Gandhi, got the names of several teams and sponsors wrong. To aggravate the situation, the laser show went bust.

1996: Angry fans set Eden Gardens ablaze Sachin Tendulkar's dismissal in the 1996 World Cup semifinal triggered a tremendous collapse as India slumped from 98/1 to 120/8. An outraged crowd then went berserk at the Eden Gardens setting fire in the stands and throwing bottles onto the field. This forced the match officials to stop the match and declare Sri Lanka as winners by default.

1996: One of the greatest comebacks by a bowler After carting Venkatesh Prasad for a boundary during the 1996 World Cup quarterfinal match against India, Pakistan's Aamer Sohail showed the direction in which he hit the ball to Prasad, gesturing him to go and fetch it. Prasad returned strongly the next ball by knocking over Sohail's off stump and signalled him to walk back to the dressing room. Eventually, India went on to clinch the high-voltage clash and progress to the semifinal.

Won't Go To Lanka

The Times of India Feb 14 2015 Controversies Which Rocked WC

Controversy dogged the 1996 World Cup, co-hosted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, even before the event began as Australia and West Indies refused to send their teams to Sri Lanka following the bombing of a bank by the Tamil Tigers in January 1996. The ICC later ruled that Sri Lanka would be awarded both games on forfeit.

Tax troubles

Cricketing arrears

February 9, 1998/ India Today

The 1996 Wills World Cup cricket championship is long over, but the other match - Jagmohan Dalmiya versus the Income-Tax Department - ended only in 1998.

See also

World Cup (cricket): history <>World Cup (cricket): 1975 <>World Cup (cricket): 1979 <>World Cup (cricket): 1983 <>World Cup (cricket): 1987 <>World Cup (cricket): 1992 <>World Cup (cricket): 1996 <>World Cup (cricket): 1999 <>World Cup (cricket): 2003 <>World Cup (cricket): 2007 <>World Cup (cricket): 2011 <>World Cup (cricket): 2015 <>World Cup (cricket): 2019 <>World Cup (cricket): 2023

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