Sri Lanka won the World Cup in 1996 © Getty Images
Sri Lanka won the World Cup in 1996 © Getty Images

Delhi: Oct 18, 2014

Arjuna Ranatunga, the former Sri Lanka captain, said that the 1996 World Cup victory changed the way the sport was played in Sri Lanka. Ranatunga was the captain of the Sri Lankan team that made history in 1996 and clinched the title against all odds. They weren’t considered favourites, but they went on to beat some of the strongest sides on their path to victory.

Speaking at an event organised by Aaj Tak-Headlines Today, Ranatunga said, “I think the win in 1996 changed cricket in Sri Lanka. It changed the route; everyone wanted to play cricket. I was in Under-12 when Clive won in 1975. I was part of the Lankan team when Kapil’s team won. I thought they had only Sunil and Kapil and no other big names. Pakistan and India had won it, why can’t Sri Lanka win? Border’s team was very young. Imran’s team and Kapil’s team were the best two teams of the World Cup.”

When asked about that victory and how they prepared for it, Ranatunga said, “I think it is not about risk but also about creating new environment. When we went to Australia in 1996 we knew we have Sanath (Jayasuriya) and (Romesh) Kaluwithrana as best openers. We didn’t have a strong bowling attack. It took us one and half years for us to plan. We didn’t have today’s technology for our use but we found out way out.”

Kapil Dev, the former India captain, rated Sri Lanka as one of the best teams he has seen. “It is difficult to pick a team. I can say West Indies because they had the players. But Australia too had the players who can win the cup. Sri Lankan team were the cherry on the cake. They were soft people, winning games after another and without big names,. Aravindra de Silva, my hero of all time. Muralitharan was there. These are the names who lit up your eyes. I would rate Sri Lanka as the best team,” said Kapil.

Ricky Ponting, the two-time World Cup winning captain, said about the Sri Lankans. “If you look back there are many stand out moments. When you think about them it’s about the players, how they changed the games. Sri Lanka changed the way the game was played. They changed lot of things. Then we had Gilchrist and mark playing the way Lankans played. I would rate Sri Lankan team in 1996 as the best,” said Ponting.