Captain Arjuna Ranatunga had led the side for 8 years previously, during which time he had transformed the Sri Lankan team from international cricket’s outsiders into a solid if not world-beating side. Kumble led the bowling with 2/39 whilst Prabhakar was punished for 47 runs in four overs. Sachin Tendulkar was in fine form, and ably supported by a capable batting line-up, while a talented bowling attack was spearheaded by Anil Kumble. Their batting was their strongest point, with Sachin Tendulkar, captain Mohammed Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Vinod Kambli and Sanjay Manjrekar together forming the strongest batting line-up in the tournament. The Little Master batted out almost the entire innings before being run out in its dying embers having made a run-a-ball 137, with captain Mohammed Azharuddin supporting him with an unbeaten 72. The target of 272 they set Sri Lanka was commanding, but by no means unattainable. The tournament was the first of its kind to be held partly on Sri Lankan soil (though co-hosts India and Pakistan shared the vast majority of games to be played), at a time of great political and social instability for the country, circumstances which unfortunately spilled over into the competition itself.
Far graver, though, were Sri Lanka’s circumstances beyond cricket in 1996. The country had been rocked by serious terror attacks, the most severe of which, the Central Bank bombing in Colombo, took place less than 3 weeks before Sri Lanka were due to host their first ever World Cup match on home soil, against Australia in February. When compared to the Indian, Australian, Pakistani and South African teams in particular, who all seemed to be in with a good chance of winning the World Cup and who featured the best players the cricketing world had to offer, Sri Lanka’s chances certainly did not appear favourable. Winning against India in Delhi was of course no mean feat, and anyone who still held doubts about how far Sri Lanka could go in the tournament had them allayed beyond question. A 115-ball 145 from de Silva was the standout performance, backed up by a brutal 75 from Ranatunga and 84 from Gurusinha, as they racked up a world record total of 398 for 5. Kenya responded with a spirited 254 for 7 in response, with talisman Steve Tikolo scoring 96, but they never looked like coming close to Sri Lanka’s colossal score.
Even better, the fight for first place of the octagonal is very close. Though this meant their berth in the knockout stages of the tournament was confirmed before the competition even began, it also robbed a cricket-loving nation of the chance to watch their team take on two of the world’s best on the biggest stage cricket has to offer, to provide some respite from the country’s turmoil. Before the tournament began, few would have pegged Sri Lanka as contenders for the title. It goes without saying that Sri Lankan cricket has had some fine names associated with it in recent years. With a positive brand of cricket that was years if not decades ahead of its time, the Sri Lankan class of 1996 turned well-respected cricketers into household names almost overnight. Without too much pressure on the scoring rate thanks to the openers’ blitz, they put together a measured partnership of 131 to guide Sri Lanka to an impressive 6-wicket victory. Much of the Sri Lankan team was made up of evidently talented players who were coming up short of living up to their potential. After a short wobble that saw them lose Gurusinha, Jayasuriya and de Silva in the space of 11 runs, Hashan Tillakaratne and Ranatunga steadied the ship.
Having stunned the West Indies earlier in the group stages, bowling them out for 93 to win by 73 runs, they retained an outside chance of sneaking into the fourth qualifying spot with a victory over Sri Lanka in Kandy. Kaluwitharana was dismissed by Zimbabwean all-rounder Heath Streak for a golden duck, and Jayasuriya soon followed suit for just 6 runs, having been bowled by the same bowler. With no obvious solution to be found to this impasse, Sri Lanka were awarded victory in both games by a walkover, without a ball being bowled in either. Lionel Messi, Ezequiel Garay, Sergio Aguero all netted successfully for Argentina, but Maxi Rodriguez’s penalty clinched the victory. Immediately after the win, world cup 2022 jerseys Nike announced a commemorative uniform featuring a fourth star on the crest to celebrate the fourth World Cup victory. Perhaps Nike thinks adding in an old school logo will encourage us to add to cart. Returns for jerseys with player name and number, vintage jerseys or any other form of personalisation will only be accepted if the personalisation is incorrect. Two yellow cards will trigger an automatic red, which means a player is ejected from the game. Now 36-the oldest and most experienced player on the roster heading and into her fourth World Cup-she’s been asked to take on a different role this time.