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The 1996 Cricket World Cup in India Pakistan and Sri Lanka was entwined in controversy and saw a lot of action-both on and off field. Sri Lanka won the tournament by emphatically beating Australia in the finals.
The 1996 Cricket World Cup in India Pakistan and Sri Lanka had 12 participating nations. Netherlands, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), were participating for the first time in a Cricket World Cup. Sri Lanka, West Indies, India and Australia qualified for the semifinals and the final was played between Sri Lanka and Australia in Lahore, Pakistan on March 17, 1996.
The participating nations were:
· Sri Lanka
· West Indies
· South Africa
· New Zealand
There was a lot of action happening off the field as well. The very gala opening ceremony at the Eden Gardens stadium in Calcutta was one. That apart, the bombings in Sri Lanka in January that year made Australia and West Indies withhold their teams from going to Sri Lanka to play league matches, thereby awarding Sri Lanka points with which they automatically qualified for the quarter finals. The riots at Calcutta after India's semifinal loss to Sri Lanka was another shameful incident that blackened the 1996 Cricket World Cup.
However, the game was played with equal zest and vigor and Sri Lanka, having defeated Australia by 7 wickets in the final, emerged as World Champions for the first time. The format was changed quite a lot to accommodate more teams. Colored uniforms were spotted and the white ball was used throughout the tournament which had many Day and night matches.
Arjuna Ranatunga proudly lifted the Wills Cup. Aravinda de Silva was the man of the match and Sanath Jayasurya, who was unstoppable with the bat all through the tournament, was declared man of the series.
Though molded in a lot of controversy and criticized as being badly planned, the 1996 Cricket World Cup in India Pakistan and Sri Lanka was a success with fans and spectators from all over the world crowding the stadiums to watch the action live. It was a glamorous event indeed.
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