Aravinda de Silva was the highest impact batsman, Tendulkar topped the runs aggregate charts in the tournament but the performances of another high impact batsman went unnoticed in the 1996 World Cup.

He did not make much press but Asanka Gurusinha was the second highest impact batsman in the tournament.

He was at number six on the runs aggregate list and on number 18 in batting averages (minimum of three batting innings).

He consistently scored tough runs, absorbed pressure (of falling wickets) and forged partnerships with the middle-order coming in at number three for Sri Lanka throughout the tournament.

Sri Lanka were 5 for 1 against Zimbabwe chasing 229 when Gurusinha walked in. Jayasuriya departed and Lanka were in trouble at 23 for 2 before Gurusinha (87 off 100 balls) and de Silva put together a match-winning 172 for the third wicket.

He followed that up with an 84 against Kenya and a 45 off 63 balls against England in the Quarter-Finals (coming in at 12 for 1 chasing 236).

His tournament-defining performance came in the final against Australia in Lahore. Sri Lanka lost Jayasuriya with the score at 12 chasing 242. Kaluwitharana’s dismissal made it 23 for 2. Gurusinha steadied the innings and put together 125 for the third wicket with Aravinda. He contributed a majority 65 of the partnership. Sri Lanka went on to win the World Cup changing the country’s cricketing fortunes forever.

 

 

Nikhil Narain

NOTE: This piece is up-to-date as of August 2016