SK Flashback: When crowd paranoia knocked India out of the 1996 World Cup
The whole of India was buzzing with anticipation as India had shown a ruthless streak to dismiss Pakistan at Bangalore in the quarter-finals. Now, it was time for the semi-finals, the first of which would be between India and the tournament favourites at this stage Sri Lanka. It was Sri Lanka’s first semi-final at the Cricket World Cup while this was India’s third.
India’s win over Pakistan by 39 runs at Bangalore had come thanks to Navjot Singh Sidhu’s 93 while Sri Lanka continued their unbeaten run in the tournament by beating England in the quarter-finals by five wickets thanks to Sanath Jayasuriya’s 44-ball knock of 82.
However, this wouldn’t be the first time the two teams locked horns in the tournament as both teams met in the group stage at Delhi with Sri Lanka winning the match by six wickets. The venue for the first semi-final was the Eden Gardens and even though Sri Lanka looked strong, nobody could have written off India, especially after their victory over Pakistan who had a relatively more successful group stage campaign than the Indians.
Arvinda De Silva and Roshan Mahanama to the rescue
A crowd of around 110,000 people had gathered to witness this monumental clash on this very day 21 years back. Sri Lanka were sent into bat by Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin after winning the toss.
The Islanders were off to the worst possible start after Javagal Srinath dismissed openers Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana in the very first over before dismissing Asanka Gurusinha to put Sri Lanka in a delicate position at 35/3.
At this point, Sri Lanka’s middle order cannon Aravinda de Silva began to play aggressively while his partner on the other end Roshan Mahanama was defending his wicket. The duo added 50 runs for the fourth wicket before De Silva was bowled by Kumble for 66 off just 47 deliveries.
Then, Mahanama along with captain Arjuna Ranatunga built an innings-rescuing partnership of 83 for the fifth wicket before Ranatunga got dismissed by Sachin Tendulkar shortly after which, Mahanama left the field injured. Some crucial chippings from Hashan Tillakaratne and Chaminda Vaas who scored 32 and 23 respectively, took Sri Lanka to a challenging total of 251/8 in their 50 overs.