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A memorable duel between birthday twins - Aravinda de Silva & Anil Kumble

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Remembering the famous duel between Aravinda de Silva and Anil Kumble in the 1996 World Cup semi-final on their birthday.

Anil Kumble, Aravinda de Silva
2 cricketing legends – Anil Kumble and Aravinda de Silva celebrate their birthdays today

There’s something about October 17th and the word “peace”. It was on this day in 1979 that Mother Teresa was awarded the Noble Peace Prize. Again it was on this day in 2007 that Dalai Lama received the United States Congressional Gold Medal.

In the cricketing world, this day is the birthday of two greats from the sub-continent – Anil Kumble and Aravinda de Silva.

In my opinion, there couldn’t have been more peaceful cricketers than the two of them. Make no mistakes, both Kumble & Aravinda de Silva were extremely attacking cricketers. Ask any batsman who has faced Kumble and he will laugh away the thought of Kumble being called peaceful. Similarly, tell any bowler that Aravinda de Silva was peaceful and you could be labeled as a person with no knowledge of the sport. 

Also read: Cricketers wish Indian coach Anil Kumble on his 46th birthday 

But I call them peaceful because of their approach to cricket. Both of them had this no-nonsense approach to the game. They would hardly indulge in unnecessary non-cricketing stuff on the field and go about doing their job in a nonchalant manner. They were artists in their respective domains.

While Kumble would always come relentlessly at the batsman, Aravinda de Silva could bat as per the need of the hour. On one day he could seem more attacking than his teammate Sanath Jayasuriya and on others he could just present a dead bat to the red cherry.

When faced against each other, the contest was as fierce as it could get. For the records, Kumble has dismissed Aravinda de Silva 14 times in all internationals. Today, as Aravinda de Silva turns 51 & Anil Kumble turns 46, we take a look at one of their most memorable contests – the 1996 World Cup Semi-final.

One run for the loss of two wickets and in walks Aravinda

It is a match which every Indian cricket fan would like to forget and one which every Sri Lankan fan will take to his grave. A lot has already been said and written about this match, so I will not go into the details of it. Having been put into bat, the Sri Lankans were struggling at 1 run for the loss of two wickets when mad max (as Aravinda de Silva is called) walked in to face the music.

Mad max unleashes his madness

What followed in the next hour or so was nothing short of madness. Kumble who had surprisingly opened the bowling along with Javagal Srinath got the treatment from Aravinda’s bat immediately. In the second over of the match, Aravinda got a nick for a boundary through the vacant slip area. In hindsight, it was this boundary that opened the floodgates for the Sri Lankans. The very next ball was dispatched with a stylish flick off the legs.

Soon, he lost his partner Asanka Gurusinha for just 1. However, this did not deter Aravinda’s approach. He continued his attacking batting and had answers to every question that the Indian bowlers posed in front of him. He reached his 50 in just 32 balls with the help of 11 hits to the boundary. His unprecedented attack meant that Indians were not in the driver’s seat despite taking three early wickets.

Kumble strikes back

Anil Kumble, Aravinda De Silva, 1996 World Cup
Kumble celebrates the dismissal of Aravinda in the 1996 World Cup

With the score at 85 for the loss of three wickets in 14 overs, Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin went back to his bowling trump card – Kumble. The first ball of the 15th over seemed to be a turning point in the match (at least back then); Kumble got an inside edge from Aravinda’s huge bat which always looked a tad bigger for him and the ball made its way to the stumps uprooting the middle one in the process.

The sound of the stumps crashing down was music to the ears of the Indian fans. Little did they know that in few hours this match would bring tears to their eyes. Sri Lanka eventually won the match by default after crowd trouble stopped the match and Aravinda got Man of the Match for his 66 runs in just 47 balls. Kumble finished the match with figures of 1-51 in 10 overs.

Also read: What if: India had won the 1996 World Cup at Lahore

This duel will be remembered forever

While Aravinda will rate this innings as one of his favorites as it helped his team reach the World Cup finals which they went on to win (courtesy a century from him), it surely wasn’t Kumble’s best performance. But in terms of one-on-one between the two, it truly was memorable.

Kumble had got his man just when Aravinda was threatening to run away with the match and Aravinda had got his team out of trouble after they had lost two wickets in the first over. So, it was a duel that these two birthday twins will remember forever.



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