The Kotla storm

In control… Sanath Jayasuriya in full flow against India during a 1996 World Cup match at the Kotla. The Sri Lankan blew away the Indian attack with his aggressive stroke-play.-V. V. KRISHNAN

India set Sri Lanka a formidable target. Back in 1996, chasing 272 to win was a monumental task. But when a team has a player of the calibre of Sanath Jayasuriya in its ranks, it can still be achieved.

Indian ace Sachin Tendulkar was in imperious form that day (March 2), hammering a run-a-ball 137 (8 fours and 5 sixes). However, there was hardly any indication of the storm that was to blow the Indians away that afternoon at the Kotla. Jayasuriya strode to the middle with Romesh Kaluwitharana as his partner and took charge of the match in no time. He mocked the Indian attack with a flurry of strokes that held the spectators in a trance.

It was simply amazing, as Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana plundered 53 runs off the first five overs, and the bowler to suffer was Manoj Prabhakar. Bowling on his home turf, Prabhakar went for 11 runs in his first over and 22 in the second. It was an embarrassing moment for Prabhakar, but one of the finest for Jayasuriya. The Sri Lankan decimated the Indian attack in a performance that won the match for his team with plenty to spare.

Decisive strike

In 2006, at a shopping mall in Kanpur, a teenager walked up to Venkatesh Prasad and asked him, “Are you Mr. Prasad? You got (Aamer) Sohail out.” Prasad was stunned. “The boy must have been hardly six or seven then,” related the former India fast bowler.

Indeed, the boy was seven when Prasad had snared Sohail in a quarterfinal match between India and Pakistan at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore (March 9). Such was the impact of the dismissal that Pakistan lost the match and Prasad became a household name. The image of the bowler showing the Pakistan batsman the way to the dressing room was etched in the minds of the cricket lovers. And Prasad re-lives this moment once every four years.

When Kenya pulled the rug

When Maurice Odumbe walked out with Richie Richardson for the toss at the Nehru Stadium in Pune on February 29, he was taking the first steps towards making cricket history.

Kenya set West Indies a modest target of 167 to win, and the result seemed a foregone conclusion. But how wrong most of us were! West Indies, with some of the biggest names in its ranks, fell short by a whopping 73 runs. It was Kenya’s finest moment on the cricket field, though a forgettable one for West Indies.

Cricket at its best

New Zealand did its best, but Australia did better. The quarterfinal at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in Madras (March 11) proved to be a winner all the way, as the teams dished out quality cricket that was thoroughly appreciated by the crowd. Chris Harris’ century (130 off 124 balls, 13x4, 4x6) lit up the stage, while Mark Waugh’s classic response (110 off 112 balls, 6x4, 2x6) lit up the venue. This was cricket at its best, as Australia made light of the imposing task of scoring 287 to win.

Warne magic

Mohali was the venue for the Australia versus West Indies semi-final (March 14). There was excitement all around because the two teams, well balanced and the most competitive, had made it thus far with each of them confident of winning the title in Lahore.

Australia though was the favourite and it went through, thanks to the magical spell that Shane Warne produced. In a low-scoring match, Australia made just 207 and West Indies was cruising at 165 for two when Glenn McGrath snapped Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Thereafter, Warne took over and packed off Ottis Gibson and Jimmy Adams to script a sensational five-run victory.

Vijay Lokapally