World Cup Countdown: Sri Lanka smash record ODI total versus Kenya
Aravinda de Silva scored 145 off 115 balls versus Kenya at Kandy. (File photo, AFP)

In the build-up to the 2019 ICC Cricket World CupCricketCountry brings to you the most memorable moments and matches from the tournament over the years – right from its first edition, way back in 1975. With 60 days to go, in our latest World Cup Countdown, we take a look back at a run-fest full of records followed by a quirk from Hashan Tillakaratne.

On March 6, 1996 at Kandy, hosts Sri Lanka hammered Kenya by 144 runs in a league game of the 1996 World Cup.

Arjuna Ranatunga‘s team has topped their group while Kenya were already eliminated, which turned his Group A closing game into a formality of sorts. Kenya skipper Maurice Odumbe won the toss and put Sri Lanka in to bat, which raised eyebrows given the strength of their batting; after all, they had easily chased India’s 272 a few days before. (World Cup Countdown: 1996 – Kenya stun West Indies)

And so, a batting lineup comprising of Sanath Jayasuriya, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Asanka Gurusinha, Aravinda de Silva, Ranatunga, Tillakaratne and Roshan Mahanama was given a great platform to rack up a big total on a flat track at a small venue.

Jayasuriya began as he so often did, hitting 44 off 27 balls with five fours and three sixes. Kaluwitharana, as he did through the tournament, made a small score (33) but it came off 18 balls and with Jayasuriya gave Sri Lanka a start of 83 runs in quick time. Gurusinha, Sri Lanka’s No 3, made 84 off 103 balls. At No 4, de Silva surged to 145 from 115 balls with 14 fours and five sixes. (World Cup Countdown: In battle of minnows, UAE register maiden ODI victory)

Ranatunga had a fun time too, smacking an unbeaten 75 off 40 balls with 13 fours and a six.

Tillakaratne, in the midst of the boundary barrage, was run out for 0. Sri Lanka soared to 398/5 in 50 overs to set a new World Cup record, going past West Indies’ 360/4 set against them in 1987, as well as the highest ODI score of all time.

When their 50 overs ended, the scoreboard showed 397/5. A run was later added to the total.

Expectedly, Kenya never got close. Steve Tikilo missed a century by four runs and wast the only batsman to register a half-century in Kenya’s 254/7 in 50 overs.

Interestingly, there was a little quirk towards the end of thee match. Ranatunga, having taken two wickets, tossed the ball to Tillakaratne to bowl his offbreaks in the final over. Tillakaratne played for Nondescripts Cricket Club, the name originating from the fact that the club did not distinguish between cricketers while selection. Probably influenced by his club’s motto, Tillakaratne decided not to show bias towards any of his hands.

He delivered three balls with his left arm, then informed the umpire and promptly switched to offbreaks. It remains the only known instance of switching hands during an over in an international game.