The Wills World Cup Begins

-February 14th, 1996-

Weeks after the Central Bank bombing, the Wills World Cup began, with Pakistan, India and--for the first time--Sri Lanka, as co-hosts. Leading up to the World Cup, Sri Lanka joined India and Australia as one of the best One-Day cricket teams in the world. However, their international presence had been clouded by the civil war happening back at home.

During the World Cup, Sri Lanka revolutionized the One-Day strategy by playing a different brand of cricket. During the first 15 overs of a game, there are field restrictions that only allow two fielders outside the inner circle of the field. Up until the World Cup, it was normal to gain about 50-60 runs during this time and play aggressively towards the end of the innings. Instead, Sri Lanka’s coach Dav Whatmore and captain Arjuna Ranatunga flipped the script and had their opening batsman Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana play aggressively during first 15 overs, doubling the average scores most teams were used to getting.

Using this technique, Sri Lanka rolled over teams like Kenya and Zimbabwe during the group stages and against England in the quarterfinals, setting the stage for a powerhouse match against a historically powerful Indian squad.