Wills Cricket World Cup - 1996

Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga lifts
Wills World Cup - 1996
The 1996 Cricket World Cup, also called the Wills World Cup after its official sponsors, was the sixth edition of the tournament organized by the International Cricket Council (ICC). It was the second World Cup to be hosted by India and Pakistan, and for the first time by Sri Lanka. This mega evwent starts on February 14, 1996 and end with Austrelia Vs Sri Lanka final match on March 17, 1996 at Lahore.

India hosted 17 matches at 17 different venues, while Pakistan hosted 14 matches at 6 venues and Sri Lanka hosted 6 matches at 3 venues.

The Cricket World Cup 1996 was marred by several controversies throughout the event. In Sri Lanka, a bombing by LTTE just before the event, resulted in the death of 90 people. As a consequence, Australia and West Indies refused to send their national teams to play in Sri Lanka for the Cricket World Cup 1996, despite repeated assurances from cricketing authorities. Therefore, the ICC awarded both the matches to Sri Lanka on grounds of forfeit.

Twelve teams participated in this event - Netherlands, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates made their World Cup debuts in this edition of the quadrennial event.

Group A : Sri Lanka, Australia, West Indies, India, Kenya, Zimbabwe.
Group B : Pakistan, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates

Another controversy happened during the semifinal between India and Sri Lanka. The misbehavior of spectators at Eden Gardens, Kolkata led to match referee Clive Lloyd awarding the match to Sri Lanka. In the final match, tensions between Australia and Sri Lanka heightened after umpire Darrell Hair called spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for suspect bowling action.

The Sri Lankans openning batsmen Sanath Jayasuriya] and Romesh Kaluwitharana take advantage of the fielding restrictions during the first 15 overs of each innings. At a time when 50 or 60 runs in the first 15 overs was considered adequate, Sri Lanka scored 117 runs in those overs against India, 123 against Kenya, 121 against England in the quarter-final and 86 against India in the semi-final. Against Kenya, Sri Lanka made 398 for 5, a new record for the highest team score in a One Day International that stood until April 2006.
Sri Lanka won the first semi-final over India at Eden Gardens, Kolkata in front of a crowd unofficially estimated at 110 000. Chasing Sri Lanka's innings of 251 for 8, India had slumped to 120 for 8 in the 35th over when sections of crowd began to throw fruit and plastic bottles onto the field. The players left the field for 20 minutes in an attempt to quieten the crowd. When the players returned for play, more bottles were thrown onto the field and fires were lit in the stand. Match referee Clive Lloyd awarded the match to Sri Lanka, the first default ever in a Test or One Day International.

In the second semi-final in Mohali, Australia recovered from 15 for 4 to reach 207 for 8 from their 50 overs. The West Indians had reached 165 for 2 in the 42nd over before losing their last 8 wickets for 37 runs in 50 balls.

Sri Lanka won the toss in the final and sent Australia in to bat despite the team batting first having won all five previous World Cup finals. Mark Taylor top scored with 74 in Australia's total of 241 for 7. After Australia had put down no fewer than five catches, Sri Lanka won the match in the 47th over with Aravinda de Silva following his 3 for 42 with an unbeaten 107 to win the Player of the Match award. It was the first time a tournament host or co-host had won the cricket World Cup.

Sachin Tendulkar topped the most runs table with the most number of runs (523) while Anil Kumble with the most number of wickets (15).

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