ON THIS DAY IN 1996: Sri Lanka started the 1996 World Cup with free points to their campaign after Australia refused to visit the island country due to security concerns. Sri Lanka defeated Zimbabwe in their second match and was handed another walkover victory against West Indies later. While it was not the kind of start any team would have liked but the Lankans, nevertheless got crucial game points in their account before arriving in Delhi for a contest against co-hosts India on March 2, 1996.
Sri Lanka was under the pressure to prove that its World Cup campaign was not just strong because of the walkover point but its cricketing calibre.
Winning the toss, Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga invited India to bat first with hopes of picking early wickets. And they did get some success. Opener Manoj Prabhakar was sent back to the pavilion at 9 runs in 36 balls.
While the Lankans looked pumped up with the breakthrough, Sachin Tendulkar and Sanjay Manjrekar got together to give stability to the Indian innings and added 66 runs for the second wicket. But just when things were looking good for India, Manjrekar was caught behind the wicket on Kumar Dharmasena’s bowling.
India’s hopes were now centred on Tendulkar and Mohammed Azharuddin and the duo did not disappoint. Steering the Indian innings forward, the batters added 175 together. Tendulkar completed his century and Azhar brought up his 50 as India finished at 271 for 3 in their assigned 50 overs.
In reply, the Lankan team got off to a good start putting a 53-run opening stand with both Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharna showcasing their stroke play. After Romesh’s departure, Jayasiruiya stitched another crucial partnership with Asanka Gurusinha and went on to score 79 off 76 balls before getting out when Sri Lanka was at 137.
Building ahead on the strong base given by Jayasuriya, skipper Ranatunga and Hashan Tillakaratne stiched a decisive partnership taking their team across the winning line. Ranatunga scored 46 whereas Hashan Tillakaratne remained unbeaten at 70 when Lanka chased down the target of 272 with 8 balls remaining.
Get the latest Cricket News here