The 1996 World Cup in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

Updated: Feb 09, 2011, 16:28 PM IST

The 1996 World Cup in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

Once termed as the minnows in the tournament now walked away with the World Cup trophy – that is story of Sri Lanka when they won the World Cup in 1996, the year when the tournament once again returned to the Indian sub-continent.

With 12 teams competing this time around, Holland, Kenya, United Arab Emirates being the minnows, the tournament also introduced quarterfinals, in which four teams from each group of six would qualify.

While Sri Lanka, India, Australia and West Indies qualified from Group A, England, Pakistan, South Africa and New Zealand emerged to be the biggies in Group B.

After surprising everyone by topping their group, Sri Lanka went on to beat the England by 5 wickets in the quarterfinal stage, thus, making it to the semis for the first time ever. India, meanwhile, stood tall against Pakistan as bowlers Venkatesh Prasad and Anil Kumble grabbed a 39-run victory for their team at Bangalore.

South Africa, on the other hand, failed to chase down the West Indies’ target of 264 runs as the Caribbean nation once again made their way into the semis and Australia booked the last semis berth for themselves after beating New Zealand by 6 wickets.

The first semifinals between India and Sri Lanka saw a dramatic turn of events as India unexpectedly slid down to 120/8 in pursuit of their target of 251. The result – a disastrously upset crowd at Eden Gardens setting fire on the stands, thus making Sri Lanka the winners ‘by default’. Australia, on the other, put an end to the Windies’ run in the World Cup as spin wizard Shane Warne, along with Glenn McGrath and Damien Fleming, did not allow the Caribbean batsmen to accomplish their target chase, and thus, took their team to the final.

The final between Australia and Sri Lanka was dominated by just one man – Aravinda de Silva. He took three wickets, including that of Australian captain Mark Taylor and Ricky Ponting, and two catches and later went on to slam a sizzling unbeaten 107 as Australia seemed in no position to defend their 241. Reaching their target with 3.4 overs to spare, Sri Lanka became the first ever host country to win the World Cup!

India at 1996 World Cup

This World Cup was held in the Indian sub-continent and with the re-introduction of the group stages, the Indian fan was gearing up for another shot at immortality and wished to prove others wrong who said that the 83’ victory was a one time wonder.

Sachin Tendulkar was in blistering form and the outfit looked disciplined under Mohd Azharuddin. A lot of players were tailor-made for the ODI format like Sidhu, Kambli, Jadeja and Ankola while the bowling also looked in safe hands with Kumble, Prasad and Srinath underlining the attack.

The tournament started with India winning the first two encounters easily but the third match showed another major chink in the team’s armour – chasing down totals. They managed to make a mockery out of the run-chase against Australia, getting all out in the 48th over for a score of 242 runs, falling short by just 16 runs.

Then came the team with the hurricane in the form of Sanath Jayasuriya. Sri Lanka had long been termed as minnows of cricket and this tournament was their announcement to the cricketing world. They beat India by six wickets and made an unspoken promise of crossing path once more before the tournament ended.