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Last Updated:  Friday, 3 January, 2003, 10:02 GMT

Hashan Tillakaratne - 1996
Captain Arjuna Ranatunga is mobbed by his team
Sri Lanka celebrate victory in Lahore
The 1996 World Cup proved a turning point for Sri Lankan cricket as Arjuna Ranatunga's team lifted the trophy after victory over Australia in the final.

Batsman Hashan Tillakaratne, still a member of the national team, recalls Sri Lanka's greatest night.


As co-hosts, the pressure was on Sri Lanka. Before the start of the tournament, how confident were you about the team's chances of success?

We knew the strengths and weaknesses of our opponents and that made us prepare well, but frankly, I felt that a second round berth was our target.

Did the decision of Australia and West Indies to refuse to travel to the island give an extra spur to the Sri Lankan team?

The fact that we had a few more days together and extra rest made us gel well. This made us a better combination.

Crowd trouble spoiled the end of your semi-final, but how satisfying was beating India in Calcutta?

We were very happy to beat India. It was a great thrill to win a semi-final on foreign soil.

Australia had a very strong batting line-up, why did Sri Lanka choose to field first after winning the toss in the final?

Well, this was Sri Lanka's strength. We always felt batting second gave us a better chance.

What were your thoughts when Sri Lanka were 23 for two early in your innings?

We had a strong batting line-up and as such the 240-plus which Australia scored was always gettable, so there was no real worry.

Aravinda de Silva's century proved to be a match-winning innings. How highly do you rate that among the many one-day innings you have seen?

I think it was one of the finest innings I have seen, he batted so brilliantly - with complete authority. There was no doubt it was a magnificent innings.

What impact did winning the World Cup have on Sri Lankan cricket?

It made Sri Lanka known. Cricket came on in leaps and bounds and every kid on the street wanted to play cricket and be a cricketer. It was tremendously positive from a Sri Lankan point of view.

What was your most memorable moment of the 1996 tournament?

Winning the final by beating Australia. It is, I am sure, everybody's moment in the World Cup.





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