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1996 ICC Cricket World Cup

The 1996 ICC 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 Pakistan and India, and for the first time by Sri Lanka. The tournament was won in spectacular fashion by the unfancied Sri Lankans who took on and defeated the high flying Australian's in the final at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. Aravinda De Silva scored a memorable century to guide the minnows (at that time) to a 7 wicket win and take out the man of the match award.

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1996 ICC Cricket World Cup

India hosted 17 matches at 17 different venues, while Pakistan hosted 17 matches at 6 venues and Sri Lanka hosted 4 matches at 3 venues. Controversy dogged the tournament before any games were played, however, when Australia and the West Indies refused to send their teams to Sri Lanka following the Central Bank Bombing by the Tamil Tigers in January, citing security concerns.

The Sri Lankans, coached by Dav Whatmore and captained by Arjuna Ranatunga, used Man of the Series Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana as opening batsmen to 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 forcing man referee Clive Lloyd to call off the match.

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.

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