-March 17th, 1996-
After a controversial end to their semi-final victory, Sri Lanka came full circle and found themselves up against a familiar opponent. Australia was a team with extreme talent and experience and were favorites in the final. However, Sri Lanka had come a long way from the Boxing Day test in December and were ready to bring home the trophy for the Sri Lankan people.
Arjuna Ranatunga won the toss and although no team in the history of the World Cup had ever won a final batting last, he chose to put his bowling attack on first, which later proved to be a smart move. Sri Lanka’s bowling attack stifled Australian batting powerhouses and let Sri Lanka’s deep batting lineup bring the trophy home to the people of Sri Lanka.
That day, Sri Lanka became the first country to win the World Cup, and the first host country to win the World Cup. More importantly, cricket became Sri Lanka’s identity. The world forgot about the war. The Sri Lankan people were world champions.