World Cup 1996: After a glorious victory in the 1992 world cup, it was time for Pakistan to defend the title in the 1996 world cup (Officially known as Wills World Cup 1996). This was the 6th edition of the tournament which was hosted in the sub-continent by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. While India & Pakistan have already hosted the event, it was the first time the event was held in Sri Lanka.
Even before the start of the tournament, it was surrounded by a lot of controversies. Australia and West Indies were reluctant to send their teams to Sri Lanka, after the deadly Central Bank Bomb attack that took place in January 1996, just days before the start of the tournament. Though Sri Lanka had promised to give additional security to all the teams, which was approved by the ICC, the Aussies and the Windies kept their decision intact to not send their teams to island country. Later, ICC had ruled that the two matches will be considered as forfeit by the visiting teams and Sri Lanka would be awarded points for the games.
ICC had included 3 more teams in this chapter of the tournament with 12 teams divided into 2 groups of 6 each. Apart from Zimbabwe, who had attained a test-team status, there were United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kenya and Netherlands, who were inducted in the format. There was an additional leg added to the tournament which was the knock-out stages. 4 teams from each group would qualify for the knock-out stages, who would then fight it out to enter the semis. The tournament was held between 14 February – 17 March.
The results from the league stages was pretty obvious with 4 top teams in each group qualifying for the semis. Among the debutant teams, the Dutch had a regrettable season by losing all the games they played, while the UAE managed to score a win against the Netherlands. Kenya, however, shocked many, after upsetting the mighty West Indies, winning the game by 73 runs.
The knock-out games were scheduled on 9th March & 11th March respectively.
Knock-Out Game 1: Sri Lanka vs England
In the first knock out game against Sri Lanka and England, the English won the toss and elected to bat first. However, they couldn’t give a good start to the team by losing early wickets. It was only PAJ DeFreitas (67 off 64 balls) who took the team to a decent total of 235/8. In response, Sri Lanka put up a great batting performance and reached the target well within 41 overs.
Knock-Out Game 2: India vs Pakistan
The other knock-out game saw arch-rivals India and Pakistan clashing against each other. India won the toss and elected to bat first. It put up a formidable score of 287/8. In response, though Pakistan got off to a good start, they kept losing wickets in the middle order, to ultimately succumb at 248/9.
Knock-Out Game 3: West Indies vs South Africa
West Indies won the toss and chose to bat. Chanderpaul & Lara starred in the innings, by scoring 56 & 111 respectively. They set a target of 265 to the Proteas. In response, AC Hudson and DJ Cullinan shined for the team with half-centuries each. However, the rest of the team failed to deliver, with the Proteas getting bowled out for 245.
Knock-Out Game 4: Australia vs New Zealand
The clash between New Zealand and Australia was a high scoring one. The Kiwis won the toss and chose to bat first. They batted well and set a target of 287. For Aussies, it was a one-man-show altogether, with Mark Waugh scoring 110 runs and taking their team home with a victory.
Semi Final 1: Sri Lanka vs India
The first semi-final between Sri Lanka and India was one of the most controversial and dramatic world cup matches ever. After Sri Lanka set a target of 252, India responded in a rather disappointing manner. At 120/8, the crowd in the Eden Gardens, Kolkata erupted and started throwing bottles on the ground. The players took a break for 10-minutes and came back again. Upon their return, the crowd went even more berserk and lit up the stands. The match was then awarded to Sri Lanka.
Semi-Final 2: Australia vs West Indies
The second semi-final was a classic example to show how to lose a winning match. Australia, in their first innings, had scored 207/8, after recovering from 15/4. In response, the Windies gave a solid start and were 165/2 in the 42nd over. What follows then, is something that the Caribbeans would never forget. The Windies lost 8 wickets for 37 runs, in the last 8 overs, handing over the match to Australia.
Sri Lanka vs Australia
It was the final and Sri Lanka & Australia were all set to face each other. While the Aussies were hoping to win their 2nd trophy, Sri Lanka were looking for their maiden world cup title. Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bowl first. The decision surprised many, as the record showed the team batting first winning all 5 world cup finals. Australia scored 241/7 in their innings with Mark Taylor being their top scorer with 74 runs. In response, Sri Lanka had a sad start, however, PA de Silva was the star of the match with a blistering-unbeaten knock of 107 runs. He along with Ranatunga (47) won the game for Sri Lanka, marking their first ever world cup victory. They also created history, as this was the first time the host/co-host of the event had won the tournament.
FACTS FROM WORLD CUP 1996
Sri Lanka became the host for the first time in 1996 when they co-hosted the world cup in 1996.
Sachin Tendulkar became the first batsman to score over 500 runs in World Cup Cricket. The right-handed genius smashed 523 runs in 7 innings.
Anil Kumble picked 15 wickets making him the leading wicket-taker.
Gary Kirsten scored an unbeaten 188 against UAE at Rawalpindi beating Viv Richards’ 181.
The Waugh twins put up a 207-run stand for the third wicket against Kenya, which remained the best in the tournament for any wicket.
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