The 1996 World Cup Unforgettable Moments was the sixth Cricket World Cup organized by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and was sponsored by Wills. It was the second World Cup to be hosted by Pakistan and India, while Sri Lanka hosted the tournament for the very first time.
India hosted 17 matches at 17 different venues, while Pakistan hosted 16 matches at 6 venues and Sri Lanka hosted 4 matches at 3 venues. The tournament had all 8 Test playing nations participating including Zimbabwe who had earned the Test status in 1992. Three Associate teams also qualified for the 1996 World Cup through the 1994 ICC Trophy – the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, and the Netherlands. The tournament wasn’t without its controversies and magical moments.
That is why, today, we revisit the 1996 World Cup tournament to have a look at some unforgettable moments.
Let’s revisit 1996 World Cup Unforgettable Moments:
Australia and West Indies refuse to play in Sri Lanka; Riots erupt in India vs. Sri Lanka semi-final
Even before the World Cup 1996 started, controversy erupted as Australia and West Indies refused to send their teams to Sri Lanka for their respective matches. This was right after the bombing of the Central Bank in Colombo by the Tamil Tigers in January 1996. After extensive negotiations, the ICC ruled that Sri Lanka was awarded both the games on forfeit. This meant that Sri Lanka qualified for the quarterfinals even before playing any match.
The second big controversy happened during the India vs. Sri Lanka semi-final in Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Sri Lanka had asked India to chase 252 runs under lights in Kolkata when the Eden pitch used to assist spinners and it was hard to chase under lights. India’s hopes were alive until Sachin Tendulkar was there. But once he was stumped off Jayasuriya, riots broke out in stands.
India was 120/8 in 34.1 overs when match referee Clive Lloyd awarded the match to Sri Lanka as rioting affected the fielders near the boundary. It was a heartbreaking moment for Indian fans and Vinod Kambli walking back to the pavilion in tears is a visual no one can forget even now.
West Indies stunned by Kenya in Pune
Kenya made their World Cup debut in 1996 and caused one of the most shocking upsets in the tournament. West Indies which was full of stars like Richie Richardson, Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Curtly Ambrose, and Courtney Walsh put Kenya into bat first. The African nation could only muster 166 runs.
But what came next left the fans rubbing their eyes. Rajab Ali and Tony Suji, the Kenyan opening bowlers stunned the West Indies’ top order. Brian Lara walked in at 22/2 and hit a crisp cover drive off the first ball he faced. Rajab Ali bowled a ball outside the off stump with a hint of swing and Lara, aimed a massive off drive and was caught by Tariq Iqbal, the wicketkeeper.
The end came swiftly as Kenya bowled out West Indies for 93 and handed them a humiliating 73-run defeat
Sanath Jayasuriya, Sachin Tendulkar, Mark Waugh give magical moments with the bat
The 1996 World Cup was played in the Indian subcontinent and offered batting paradises in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. This meant that there were lots of runs scored by teams. Sri Lanka posted the then-highest ODI score of 398/5 against Kenya in Kandy.
But it was three batters- Sanath Jayasuriya, Sachin Tendulkar, and Mark Waugh who made the most of the terrific batting conditions. Jayasuriya was the Player of the Tournament with 221 runs in 6 matches at a strike rate of 131.54. His knock of 82 in the quarter-final against England led Sri Lanka into their first World Cup semi-final.
Mark Waugh became the first batter in World Cup history to hit 3 centuries in a single edition. He amassed 484 runs at an average of 80.66 and his best score was 130, which came against Kenya. He also scored tons against New Zealand and India.
Sachin Tendulkar became the first batter to score over 500 runs in a single World Cup edition and he made 523 runs in 7 matches with 2 tons and 3 fifties. His tons came against Sri Lanka and Kenya. Meanwhile, Gary Kirsten hit the highest score of the 1996 World Cup, when he made 188* against UAE in Rawalpindi.
Venkatesh Prasad vs Aamer Sohail and Ajay Jadeja vs Waqar Younis in India vs Pakistan quarterfinal
For the first time in World Cup history, India and Pakistan faced off in a knockout match. This was the quarterfinal of the 1996 tournament and the match by played in Bangalore. India batted first and Navjot Singh Sidhu starred with 93 runs. But the actual star of the Indian innings was Ajay Jadeja. He hammered 45 runs in 25 balls to propel India to 287/8 in 50 overs.
His battle with Waqar Younis in death overs was scintillating as in the 48th over, Jadeja hit 3 fours and a six to Younis taking 22 runs in that over. Then in the last over, Jadeja hammered Younis for a six and a four before getting out.
Pakistan’s chase got off to a flyer thanks to Aamer Sohail and Saeed Anwar, who added 84 runs in 10 overs. Sohail looked in great touch scoring 55 in just 46 balls. But in the 15th over, he overconfidently got into a verbal war with Venkatesh Prasad. Sohail hit Prasad over point for a four and signalled to the bowler with his bat and finger that the next ball would also travel to the same spot.
Unfortunately, Sohail missed the delivery and had his off-stump uprooted. Venkatesh Prasad gave him an earful during a fiery send-off as Pakistan crumbled to 248/9 and lost by 39 runs. This was also the final ODI of Javed Miandad’s career, bringing the curtains down on a legendary cricketer.
Sri Lanka beat all odds to win the final
Sri Lanka had both luck and form on their side throughout the World Cup 1996. They got two walkovers in the form of Australia and West Indies refusing to play their matches in the country. They qualified for the quarterfinals directly, where Sanath Jayasuriya’s 44-ball 82 made a mockery of the 236-run target. Then they were awarded the semi-final against India in Kolkata due to rioting, which they would have won anyway.
They faced Australia in the final in Lahore and had to chase 241 runs to win the match. No team had ever won the World Cup final chasing. And Sri Lanka lost both the openers early. But Aravinda de Silva and Asanka Gurusinha added 125 runs for the third wicket. De Silva continued and scored a brilliant 107*.
Arjuna Ranatunga hit the winning runs to make Sri Lanka the World Cup champions, ending a fairytale run in the tournament with the dream finish.