1996 World Cup: Jayasuriya ends a career

Shocked, silent spectators at the Ferozeshah Kotla watched in disbelief as the Sri Lanka opener smashed Manoj Prabhakar’s second over for four fours and a six.

Sanath Jayasuriya’s dismantling of Manoj Prabhakar truly symbolised the power of self-belief.   -  V. V. Krishnan

A packed Ferozeshah Kotla ground was under the spell of Sachin Tendulkar’s 137. India, asked to bat, majestically marched to 271 for three and the fans waited for the finale of a largely expected Indian win. After all, during those days, a score in excess of 270 was considered match-winning.

Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga said on arrival for the World Cup that make-shift openers Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana would not be dropped even if they failed to score!

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“Given their attacking prowess, even if one of them gets going, it is a bonus. In a worst case scenario, we could be 0 for 2. It will not hurt us because our core batting begins from No. 3 once Asanka Gurusinha walks in,” explained Ranatunga.

What came Sri Lanka’s way that afternoon was more than a bonus. Shocked, silent spectators watched in disbelief as the first three overs produced 42 runs — Manoj Prabhakar’s two costing 33!

An exasperated Prabhakar switched to off-spin, but ended with figures of 4-0-47-0 in what turned out to be his last international match.

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Jayasuriya truly went after Prabhakar in the third over of the innings. He smashed a near-six, a six over long-on and three other boundaries. What remains etched in my memory is Jayasuriya stepping out to Prabhakar and unleashing an inside-out stroke that almost cleared the cover fence.

How often do you see a new-ball bowler being treated with such disdain?

Though Jayasuriya left his crease to hammer Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad, too, during his 76-ball 79, his dismantling of Prabhakar truly symbolised the power of self-belief.

The result: Sri Lanka won by six wickets with eight deliveries to spare.

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