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Our tactics in 1996 caught opponents off guard



Duleep Mendis with captain Arjuna Ranatunga  and deputy Aravinda  de Silva. 

by Duleep Mendis 

Today is a special day for every Sri Lankan who knows his/her cricket. It was on this day 25-years-ago we won the Cricket World Cup at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore beating the fancied Australia in the final. Mark Taylor’s side were favourites to win or so everyone thought. 

This day brings back a lot of good memories and pride when I think about the final and how the boys played the whole tournament in 1996. I will not be overstating if I say Sri Lanka changed the way one-day cricket was played with their innovative style and approach.

We came to this tournament with just four wins out of the 20 World Cup games we had played since 1975 and nobody expected us to throw surprises at everyone. 

I had the dual role of being Manager of the Sri Lankan team and Chairman of Selectors. We were responsible for finding a winning combination. I must acknowledge that I had a very knowledgeable set of past cricketers in the selection committee who gave me a lot of assistance in putting together the best combination for the victory in Lahore.  

During that period each member of the committee was so committed to the task that when one started to make a move everyone understood exactly why it was being made. That was the level of knowledge the other selectors had. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to them. 

In 1995 Dav Whatmore and Alex Kountouris were introduced to the national team. I was there as a conduit between the players and these two gentlemen from Australia. Even though Dav was born in Sri Lanka, he had his schooling in Australia and went on to play Test cricket for Australia. Alex was new but we formed the management committee of the team. 

We made our start in 1995 in Pakistan where we beat them. We also had a very successful tournament in Sharjah. Later that year we went to Australia just before the World Cup. Our first game took place in Perth which was marred by ball tampering allegations.  We were later exonerated. Despite the odds, we had a very good tour of Australia. The boys started to believe in themselves. The tactics were laid down in Australia for the forthcoming World Cup.

Our success depended largely on our game plan of being aggressive in the first ten to 15 overs. This went onto change the way ODI cricket was played.  Our strategy took everyone by surprise. When the World Cup was in progress, all the other teams were still getting to know what we were doing. But before they could really know and counter our moves, the tournament was over and we were World  Champions.  

Celebrations went on for so many months. Now, after 25 years of that monumental achievement, so many memories come back. Although we are far away from Sri Lanka we still think of those good times when we had a brilliant team.  

I can still remember that day before the World Cup final in Lahore when everyone was talking about the dew factor. I and Arjuna went out to the ground at night and nobody knew about it, just to see the dew. We saw that there was a lot of dew on the ground and we knew that if we bowled at night we were going to find it difficult defending a total. So it was decided that if we won the toss we would bowl first.

In Arjuna, we had a captain, who was fearless and aggressive. A captain who wasn’t afraid to take decisions. He was well backed up by master tactician Aravinda, who was his deputy. We also had the fortune of having a set of brilliant cricketers around who knew exactly what to do when things were not going well for the team.  

I offer my sincere thanks to the whole team and to the Board at that time which was led by Ana Punchihewa for the wonderful memories that are coming back even after 25 years.  

I know that there will be celebrations today but unfortunately Dav, Alex and I will not be able to come due to the current situation (caused by Covid-19). We feel bad about missing this event but I hope you will have a wonderful time reliving the memories of 1996.

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Track and field action from Diyagama



Olympian Sumedha Ranasinghe was the winner of the men’s javelin throw as he cleared a distance of 78.31 metres.

The Track and Field season commenced with some of the best athletes in the senior and Under 20 age categories producing notable performances during the two-day Junior and Senior Selection Trial concluded at Diyagama on Tuesday. Here are some action pictures from the day two of the event.

(Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi)

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Dharshana’s false start dampen an otherwise remarkable day



Tharushi Karunaratne beat Nadeesha Ramanayake to win the women’s 400 metres.

by Reemus Fernando

Sprinter Aruna Dharshana gave athletics fans both joy and heartache on an otherwise remarkable day as the Junior and Senior Track and Field trials concluded with a number of athletes achieving their personal bests at Diyagama yesterday.

Athletics analysts were waiting for Dharshana to reach his personal best in the men’s 400 metres final after the Army athlete produced the best performance in the heats where as many as five athletes clocked sub 47 seconds. When Dharshana followed up his 200 metres winning time of 21.12 seconds with a feat of 46.43 seconds in the 400 metres many expected him to produce a sub 46 seconds performance in the final.

But the shocking foul start meant that he will have to wait for more than a month to test his true potential. Incidentally, Kalinga Kumarage, who was off-colour in the heats (47.51 secs – second in heat 3) won the final with a feat of 46.27 seconds. However, 100 metres sprinter Medhani Jayamanne who was disqualified for a foul start in the women’s 100 metres heats was not so unlucky, as athletics officials gave her an opportunity to compete in the women’s 100 metres final, though her place was (2nd) not recognised. She clocked 12.16 seconds in the final.

Chamod Yodasinghe reached his personal best to win the men’s 100 metres.

In Dharshana’s absence four others, namely, Kumarage, R.N. Rajakaruna, Dinuka Deshan and Pabasara Niku clocked sub 47 seconds.

In the corresponding women’s 400 metres, schoolgirl Tharushi Karunaratne continued to shock her senior counterparts. Having won the women’s 800 metres on day one, the Ratnayake Central prodigy also bagged the 400 metres victory as she clocked 53.41 seconds to beat Asian Championship participant Nadeesha Ramanayake.

In the men’s 100 metres Chamod Yodasinghe reached his personal best as he clocked 10.37 seconds to win the final.

In the women’s 100 metres final, Rumeshika Ratnayake clocked 12.01 seconds to win running against the wind (-2.9). In the heats, she clocked sub 12 seconds.

In the morning, Gayanthika Abeyratne finished the women’s 1500 metres just three seconds shy of her national record mark as she clocked 4:12.53 seconds to win closely followed by steeplechase national record holder Nilani Ratnayake. Abeyratne’s national record established last year stands at 4:09.12 seconds.

In the Under 20 age category events Malith Yasiru produced the second-best performance of the Asian region in the Under 20 boys’ triple jump this year when he cleared a distance of 15.43 metres to win the event.

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Sri Lankan sailing teams compete in Pakistan



The Sri Lankan national team of two sailors and one windsurfer, with the Navy team of a sailor and a windsurfer, were invited to participate at the first Chief of Navy Staff International Sailing Regatta 2023 held from March 14 to 20 in Karachi, Pakistan. Twelve countries including Australia, Bahrain, Croatia, Egypt, China, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Oman, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey had sent their teams to Karachi. The Sri Lankan national team consisted of Laser Standard sailor (ILCA 7) NGMU Ghanawardene, Sri Lanka Navy, Priyantha Gunawardene, Sri Lanka Navy participating in the Windsurfing RSX Class and Laser 4.7 (ILCA 4) sailor Tharen Nanayakkara. The Navy team consisted of Laser Standard sailor (ILCA 7) JMPL Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka Navy and WAS Weeratunge, Sri Lanka Navy participating in the Windsurfing RSX Class.

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