India at the 1996 World Cup

India were the co-hosts of the 1996 Cricket World Cup along with Pakistan and Sri Lanka and were expected to perform well at home. Changes in format included the re-use of a group format, in which there were two pools of six, after which the top four from each group progressed to the quarter-finals. India was placed in Group A with Australia, Kenya, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe. With the West Indies beginning to lose their grip on ODI cricket and with the inclusion of two minnows (Kenya and Zimbabwe) in their group, India were expected to cruise into the quarter-finals.

India opened their campaign against Kenya at Cuttack. India won the toss and elected to bowl first. They restricted the Kenyans to 199/6, with spinners Anil Kumble and Venkatapathy Raju taking two and three wickets respectively. The target was easily achieved with 55 balls and seven wickets to spare, primarily due to Sachin Tendulkar (127 from 138 balls, 15 fours, 1 six)* who scored an unbeaten century in an opening partnership of 163 runs with Ajay Jadeja (53 from 85 balls, 4 fours, 1 six).
India continued their campaign in Gwalior against the West Indies, who won the toss and elected to bat first. The West Indies did reach 91/2 but after a mid order collapse were dismissed for 173 off the final ball of the 50 overs. Kumble and Manoj Prabhakar claimed three wickets each, while Javagal Srinath only conceded 22 runs for his two wickets. India started poorly, slumping to 2/2 after both Navjot Singh Sidhu and Jadeja were removed by Ambrose, but steadied on the back of Sachin Tendulkar (70 from 91 balls, 8 fours), whose half-century led India to a win by five wickets and more than ten overs to spare.
India then faced tournament favourites Australia in Bombay (now Mumbai), and the tourists batted first after winning the toss. Mark Waugh (126 from 135 balls) and Mark Taylor (59 from 73 balls) set the foundation with a 103 run opening stand, and Australia reached 232/3 before Mark Waugh was dismissed for 126. Australia suffered five run-outs, four in the last ten overs whilst chasing quick runs, with Venkatesh Prasad and Raju taking two wickets each. India's chase started poorly, with Ajay Jadeja and Vinod Kambli dismissed by Damien Fleming with only seven runs scored. Sachin Tendulkar (90 from 84 balls, 14 fours, 1 six) counter-attacked ferociously, and India were well ahead of the required run rate at 143/3 when he charged a wide from Mark Waugh and was stumped for 90. From there onward, the run chase began to falter, with only Sanjay Manjrekar managing 62 from 91 balls, resulting in a 16 run loss, dismissed for 242 in the 48th over.
India then faced Sri Lanka in a batsman dominated match in Delhi. Sachin Tendulkar (137 from 137 balls, 8 fours, 5 sixes) scored another century and captain Mohammed Azharuddin got 72 from 80 balls in a 175 run partnership as India compiled 271/3. However, the opening pair of Romesh Kaluwitharana and Sanath Jayasuriya launched Sri Lanka to 42 after just three overs. Jayasuriya managed to score 79 from 77 balls, leaving the score at 141/4. With the run-rate under control, Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga (46*) and Hashan Tillakaratne (70*) made a 131 run partnership to steer them to a six wicket win with eight balls remaining. Kumble led the bowling with 2/39 whilst Prabhakar was punished for 47 runs in four overs.
India ended the group stage against Zimbabwe in Kanpur, who won the toss and sent the Indians into bat. After slumping to 32/3, Sidhu (80 from 116 balls, 5 fours) and Vinod Kambli (106 from 110 balls, 11 fours) put on 142 runs before Jadeja finished off the innings with 44* from 27 balls to total 247/5. The Zimbabweans lost wickets at regular intervals and fell 40 runs short, with Raju taking 3/30 and Kumble, Srinath and Jadeja two each.
India's third placing in the group left them with a quarter final matchup against arch rivals Pakistan, who had finished second in their group at Bangalore. The match had a huge leadup, and Pakistani captain Wasim Akram withdrew due to injury. India elected to bat after winning the toss, with Navjot Sidhu (93 from 115 balls, 11 fours) and Tendulkar reaching 90 before the fall of Tendulkar. Sidhu went on to fall just short of a century, and although wickets fell regularly, the Indians continued to score quickly, with Jadeja scoring a rapid 45 from 25 balls in the final overs, including 40 from Waqar Younis' last two overs. Prasad and Kumble then took three wickets each to keep Pakistan to 248 to complete a memorable victory. This resulted in widespread disappointment in Pakistan, leading to a government inquiry, crowd demonstrations outside players' homes and the suicide of one distraught fan.
India were faced Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens in Calcutta and sent Sri Lanka in to bat first. Both Kaluwitharana and Jayasuriya were dismissed in Srinath's first over, uppercutting wide balls down to third man. Srinath then removed Asanka Gurusinha to leave the score at 35/3. However half centuries from Aravinda de Silva (66 from 47 balls) and Roshan Mahanama (58 from 101 balls) helped Sri Lanka to a total of 251/8. India made a solid start, with Sachin Tendulkar (65 from 88 balls, 9 fours) scoring a half-century and taking India to 98/1. However, the pitch began to crumble and take more spin, and when Tendulkar was stumped, the incoming batsmen were unable to cope with the four pronged spin-attack of Jayasuriya (3/12), de Silva, Muttiah Muralitharan and Kumar Dharmasena, who took 6 wickets as India lost 22/7 to slump to 120/1. At this point, sections of the crowd began setting fire to the stands and throwing missiles onto the field. Play was stopped as the crowd's anger began to develop into a dangerous riot. Umpires decided that Sri Lanka be awarded the game due to India's hopeless position, knocking them out of the World Cup.
India's campaign was higlighted by the consistency of Sachin Tendulkar, who managed 50 or more in all but two of his matches. With 523 runs at 87.16, Tendulkar was the leading run scorer in the entire World Cup, with two of his six dismissal due to run outs rather than batting errors. His 137 against Sri Lanka was the 4th highest of the entire tournament and his partnership of 175 with Azharuddin the fourth highest in the tournament. No other Indian batsmen aggregated 250 runs. India was also bolstered by the performances of Anil Kumble, who was leading wicket taker in the entire tournament with 15 wickets at 18.73 apiece and also the leading catcher, with 8 catches. Raju, Prasad and Srinath were tied in tenth spot with eight wickets each.
The Indian Squad for the 1996 World Cup...
  • Aashish Kapoor
  • Ajay Jadeja
  • Anil Kumble
  • Javagal Srinath
  • Manoj Prabhakar
  • Mohammed Azharuddin (Captain)
  • Navjot Singh Sidhu
  • Nayan Mongia (Wicket keeper)
  • Sachin Tendulkar
  • Salil Ankola
  • Sanjay Manjrekar
  • Venkatapathy Raju
  • Venkatesh Prasad
  • Vinod Kambli
India used Srinath and Prasad in each game as opening pace bowlers, with Kumble as the spinner. Depending on the pitch conditions, Raju was used four times as a second spinner, whilst Ankola and Kapoor played in the other matches as a spinner. Mongia, Tendulkar, Azharuddin, Kambli and Jadeja played in all matches, whilst Manjrekar, Sidhu and Prabhakar contested two positions in the team, with Prabhakar used as a fifth pace option.

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