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Thursday, January 20, 2011

First Home World Cup for Sachin - 1996 World Cup

After the disappointment of the 1992 World Cup, Sachin went back to India and started accummulating runs at will. Centuries started flowing in tests - another gem was produced by the young Master in Johannesburg later in the same year. England, West Indies, Sri Lanka were not spared in test matches that were played in subsequent years. The Master had started showing the skills that he would be known for, around the cricketing world. Centuries in the ODI's however, had not started until 1994 when India met Australia in Colombo. Sachin's love-story against the Aussie bowling has been documented well over the years and this was the first century the Legend hit against them in ODIs. There would be many more to come in later years.

Almost 15 years back to the same day (18-Feb-1996), Sachin Tendulkar started India's campaign in the 1996 World Cup against Kenya by scoring what else, a century against the minnows. Another century against Sri Lanka followed but in a losing cause. India were one of the favorites to win the World Cup in their backyard but Sri Lanka defeated them in the semi-finals before going on to win the Cup against Australia. Only Sachin Tendulkar was consistent in the matches that India played, managing 50 or more in all but two of his matches. He ended the tournament as the leading run-scorer but that was not enough to take the team to the Cup. Anil Kumble became the highest wicket-taker of the tournament but again he was the lone consistent Ranger in the team.

Some memorable instances that are still fresh in memory include:

  • Sachin's batting against Australia - India faced a grim target against the Aussies in Mumbai but as long as Sachin was at the crease, things seemed under control. The Aussies had almost given up home and turned to the part-timer Mark Waugh. Off a wide ball, Sachin was stumped in the nineties. The Indian innings went downhill from thereon and fell short of the target required.
  • Sachin's batting against Sri Lanka - Similarly, in the first match that India played against Sri Lanka in this World Cup, Sachin helped the team put up an imposing total of 271 runs. Sri Lanka's tactics of having Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana flay the bowling meant that the chase was reduced to a formality very soon.
  • Manoj Prabhakar reduced to bowling off-spin in the same match - Manoj Prabhakar was one of the great opening bowlers for India prior to Srinath's arrival in test cricket. He could swing the ball prodigiously and won many a match with his all-round abilities. He would open the batting and bowling for India in many test matches and ODIs. During this match, he was massacred by "Jaya and Kalu" in the first three overs. He bowled his last over as an off-spinner! Manoj Prabhakar turned out to be a whistle-blower later for the match-fixing charges in India. Later, he made a comeback to domestic cricket as a coach for Delhi Ranji team.
  • The memorable match in Bangalore when Jadeja smashed Waqar and Venky bowled Aamir Sohail - Who could forget this match? India and Pakistan playing a World Cup quarterfinal in Bangalore. Morning of the match saw Wasim Akram pull out because of a shoulder injury. The Indians made good progress with the bat but during the slog overs, Ajay Jadeja smashed Waqar Younis for 40 runs in the latters 2 overs. The Pakistan batsmen started the chase bravely thanks to the openers but Venkatesh Prasad dismissed Aamir Sohail to put the brakes. Sohail had been hitting Prasad all over the ground and gesturing at Prasad which made the Indian pacer react angrily on the dismissal.
  • The chaotic scenes that ended the semi-final match in Calcutta with Kambli in tears. India had got through to the semis after a tough match against Pakistan while Sri Lanka were fortunate that because of the non-participation of some countries, they faced a relatively weaker England team. The openers had created all the news in the initial stages but in this match, both of them were out in the first over itself. Aravinda de Silva then took over the control of the match and ensured that the target for the Indian team was steep. Sachin once again started the chase in right earnest and till he was at the crease, there was hope even though Azhar had made his gaffe after winning the toss (remember Gooch's 333 at Lords). The match was force-closed with the crowd becoming unruly after the Indian collapse. Vinod Kambli was the last Indian player to be seen on the television sets, crying at the possibility of not being able to play another World Cup in his life!

Navjot Sidhu scored two fifties in this tournament, against West Indies and Pakistan in the quarter-finals. He did not play in all the matches and could have made a bigger impact. His failure in the semi-final would have rankled him for long time. He took up television commentary and politics after his retirement, well-known for his witty comments.

Sanjay Manjrekar bowed out of the World Cups after a performance that included just one half-century in the ill-fated chase against Australia. He has moved on to become a cricket commentator on Television as well as expert analyst on websites like Cricinfo.

Salil Ankola made his test debut in the same match as Sachin Tendulkar but could not make much impact on the international scene like his co-debutant. Even in this World Cup, he bowled only five overs in the only match he played. He became an actor and performed different roles in television soaps.

Venkatapathy Raju did well in the matches he played in this World Cup, taking wickets at vital intervals of the match. After retirement he took up the reins of Hyderabad cricket and was part of the selection committee also.

Another World Cup had gone and Sachin's dream of winning the World Cup remained still a dream even after playing at home.

Next post is the 1999 World Cup in England.

Stumped off a wide by Mark Waugh

Sachin's performance at 1996 World Cup

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