March 13, 1996 – The nuisance at the Eden Gardens

March 13, 1996 – The nuisance at the Eden Gardens

Sri Lanka defeated India in the semi-final that was played at the historic Eden Gardens in front of 100,000+ spectators.

Eden Gardens
110,000 Indian cricket fans crammed into Eden Gardens, Calcutta. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

The 1983 World Cup win changed the dynamics of Indian cricket but they had a long wait for adding one more ICC trophy to their cabinet. India got knocked out from the 1987 CWC after they lost a thrilling semi-final during their title defence. They ended long way behind the title in 1992 but started the 1996 CWC as favourites in their backyard. However, India once again crashed out in the semis at the historic Eden Gardens in Kolkata that witnessed a turn up of more than 100000, who had a say in the result.

Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin elected to field first on a newly laid surface at the Eden Gardens. The pitch curator wasn’t aware of the behaviour of the track and the less Azhar knew is that they will be chasing on a wearing track. The aggressive opening pair Sanath Jayasuriya (1) and Romesh Kaluwitharana (0) got out to Javagal Srinath by hitting straight to the third-man. The Lankans lost three for 35 as Asanka Gurusinha (1) also got fell cheaply to Srinath. In the crisis situation, Aravinda de Silva took over the Indian bowlers to yield quick runs.

The Sri Lankan No.4 batsman completed his fifty off just 32 balls by hitting 11 fours. Aravinda hit three more fours during his 47-ball 66 before getting cleaned up by Anil Kumble. Roshan Mahanama (58*) and Arjuna Ranatunga (35) stitched 83-run stand to push the Lankans from 85/4 to 168/5. Mahanama got retired hurt after anchoring the innings with a fifty. Hasan Tillakaratne (32) and Chaminda Vaas (23) took the Sri Lankan total to 251/8 in the 50 overs. Sachin Tendulkar was India’s most economical bowler in the game with the figures of 2/34 in the ten overs he bowled.

Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar awaits the umpire’s decision, Cricket World Cup 1995-96, India v Sri Lanka at Calcutta (Semi-final). (Photo by Patrick Eagar/Patrick Eagar Collection via Getty Images)

Tendulkar later kept India in the chase with a well compiled fifty. After Navjot Sidhu fell cheaply, Sachin shared a 90-run stand with Sanjay Manjrekar for the 2nd wicket. The master blaster was beaten by a wide down the leg-side from Jayasuriya to be stumped. Sachin scored 65 off 88 balls he faced with nine boundaries. His dismissal triggered one of the historic Indian collapses as one batsman followed the other towards the pavilion against the spinners. Jayasuriya claimed three wickets to reduce India from 98/1 in the 23rd over to 120/8 in 35th over.

Soon after the fall of India’s 8th wicket, the Indian fans started to protest by throwing objects into the field at the Sri Lankan players and lit the fire in the stands. Nearly 20 minutes of play time went in vain due to the protests after India lost 22/7 in space of 70 deliveries. Upul Chandana was hit by a bottle just when the match officials tried to resume the game. Chandana was the substitute fielder for injured Mahanama and was fielding at the long-on position.

India vs Sri Lanka
World Cup Semi Final India v Sri Lanka Calcutta 1996 Fire in stands lit by Indian spectators after the match. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

Soon after another disturbance, the match referee Clive Lloyd awarded the game to Sri Lanka as India crashed out of the tournament. The pictures of Vinod Kambli (unbeaten on 10) walking off in tears still reminds one of the worst riots caused by the spectators in cricket’s history. Sri Lanka claimed their maiden World Cup by defeating Australia in the final in Lahore. India’s drought of an ODI World Cup ended in 2011 which was also hosted by the sub-continent.