Friday, February 4, 2011

The World Cup Memories - 1996

The World Cup came to India (and Sri Lanka & Pakistan) in 1996. In a sense it has been the most relateable World Cup so far. This time around I was in Jamshedpur having just completed Std. 8 and entering Std 9. I remember our final exams having been shifted a week or so early so that we were not distracted too much (:D). I remember the fat world cup special supplements which had arrived with almost all the newspapers and magazines. And it seemed to me that almost everyone was sure of an Indian victory as well. But it ended with a complete heartbreak.
Now for some memories from the tournament. The joint India-Pakistan XI which played in Sri Lanka in a (not so successful) bid to declare Sri Lanka as a safe location for matches. The opening ceremony which was well, a fiasco with a much hyped laser show. The Indian campaign was a quiet progress to the quarter-finals and then it moved from the absolute high of an amazing win over Pakistan to the despair and heartbreak against Sri Lanka in the semis in Eden Gardens. The India-Pakistan encounter also gave the most memorable moment of the tournament, the Aamer Sohail-Venkatesh Prasad encounter with the bowler coming out trumps. The most roller coaster campaign definitely belonged to the West Indies. They lost to Kenya and then beat Australia and knocked out South Africa before somehow managing to lose against the Aussies in the semis. And the last memory would be of Arjuna Ranatunga lifting the cup in Lahore.
Everyone seemed to be in a world cup mood at the time. I remember Asian Paints running a "Mera Wala Blue" print campaign featuring the India shirt on all India match days. For the finals however they switched to a Sri Lankan shirt with the tagline, "Tumhara Wala Blue".

Next Stop: England 1999

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