18-days-to-go

It has been over 18 years since Sri Lanka became world champions. And with 18 days to go for ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, we take a look back at how this South Asian underdog back then defeated favourites Australia to lift the 1996 World Cup at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore.

With overnight rain, Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Rantunga won the toss and opted to field. The decision proved to be right one as Chamida Vass removed Mark Waugh early on. But a 101-run stand for the second wicket between Mark Taylor and Ricky Pointing saw Australia completely dominate the proceedings. It was Arvinda de Silva’s off-break that provided Sri Lanka with the breakthrough. Well set Taylor and Pointing fell in quick succession to de Silva and Sri Lanka were back in the game. Australia’s middle-order looked feeble against the Lankan spinners and with the help of Michael Bevan’s 36 they reached 241 for 7 in 50 overs. Also Read: ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Schedule in IST: Time Table, Fixture & Venue Details of all WC 2015 Matches

Sri Lanka were chasing the history as no team had won the World Cup batting second. Inside six overs Sri Lanka’s dangerous opening duo of Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana were both back in the hutch. Target of 242 suddenly became mountainous for a batting line which in quarter-final and semi-final had romped England and India bowlers respectively.

With two wickets down Sri Lanka needed a partnership to take them close to the title and the third-wicket stand between de Silva and Asanka Gurusinha did exactly that. The two shared 125, before Gurusinha fell to Paul Reiffel for a well made 65. After that it was the unbeaten partnership of 97 runs between de Silva and Skipper Ranatunga that took Sri Lanka home. De Silva, who was well supported by Gurusinha and Ranatunga, smashed an unbeaten 107. It was only the third hundred scored in a World Cup final and Sri Lanka became the first team to win the title while batting second. Also Read:  ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Schedule: Complete Fixtures & Time Table of all Cricket World Cup 2015 Matches