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70 days to go: Hashan Tillakaratne's perfect finish robs Sachin of glory

Tillakaratne did a Kohli by playing the role of finisher to perfection against hosts India, lifting his side from a slump and leading them to victory. 

Published: 21st March 2019 08:25 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th May 2019 05:28 PM   |  A+A-

Hashan Tillakaratne. (file | AFP)

Online Desk

We've seen the likes of Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni chase down any target effortlessly but finishing off matches isn't an easy job. In the 1996 World Cup, Sri Lanka's Hashan Tillakaratne did a Kohli by playing the role of finisher to perfection against hosts India, lifting his side from a slump and leading them to victory. 

Sri Lankan skipper Arjuna Ranatunga won the toss and elected to field against a strong Indian batting line-up at the Ferozeshah Kotla. Sri Lanka had already qualified for the quarter-final stage after Australia and West Indies refused to travel to the island nation citing security concerns and forfeited their matches.

India started with openers Sachin Tendulkar and Manoj Prabhakar putting on 27 runs before the latter was scalped by pacer Ravindra Pushpakumara. Sanjay Manjrekar then walked out to join Tendulkar who was in sublime form, tearing apart the Sri Lankan bowlers.

Manjrekar departed after making 32 off 46 deliveries, but Sachin was in no mood to stop his onslaught. Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin then came to the fore and forged a 175-run partnership with the 'little master', scoring 72 runs off 80 deliveries. Tendulkar was run out for a run-a-ball 137 that included eight boundaries and five big hits over the fence and his innings helped India set a 272-run target.

In reply, Sri Lanka started with Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana who utilised the field restrictions to score quick runs. Wicketkeeper Kaluwitharana was the first to depart after putting on 53 runs and scoring 26 off 16 deliveries. Asanka Gurusinha was the next man in and supported his partner Jayasuriya who was hammering the Indian bowlers. 

Sri Lanka were cruising at 129/1 before India put the brakes by forcing three quick dismissals starting with Gurusinha's run out. Anil Kumble claimed the wickets of Jayasuriya and Aravinda de Silva to reduce Sri Lanka to 141 for four. Out came Hashan Tillakaratne to join skipper Ranatunga, and what followed was sheer brilliance as the batsmen put on an unbroken 131-run partnership to steer Sri Lanka to a six-wicket win with eight balls to spare. 

ALSO READ | 96 days to go: Maiden hosts, maiden World Cup - A Sri Lankan fairytale 

Tillakaratne hit six fours in his patient 70-run knock off 98 balls, overshadowing even the seasoned Arjuna Ranatunga who scored 46 and played a supporting role in the partnership. It was Sri Lanka's first big win in the World Cup winning campaign as they had thrashed minnows Zimbabwe in the first match they played. 

The two sides met again in the semi-final stage and Sri Lanka won the encounter by default after the crowd disrupted play by throwing objects on the field. Sri Lanka went on to make history by defeating Australia by seven wickets at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. 



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