On March 17, 1996, Sri Lanka created history when they went onto lift their maiden ICC Cricket World Cup title beating Australia in the summit clash at Lahore. History favoured the Australians, who had already lifted the trophy back in 1987, while Sri Lanka had failed to get past the group stages of the competition before the 1996 ICC Cricket World Cup. Under the captaincy of Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lanka had a group of players who played brilliantly in the tournament to reach the final.
Along with the explosive opening pairing of Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana, Sri Lanka had wicket-taking bowlers in form of Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan making them a formidable unit. Sri Lanka finished the group stages unbeaten and in the knock-out stages, the Lankans first beat England in the quarter-final and then reached the final after the semi-final against hosts India was called off due to crowd trouble. Australia were considered the favourites to win the title before the final at Lahore. But in the final, it was Sri Lanka star Aravinda de Silva who put up a brilliant all-round show to take his team past the finish line.
In the 1996 ICC Cricket World Cup final, Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bowl first. The decision to bowl first backfired for Sri Lanka as the bowlers allowed Australia to finish at 241/7 at the end of their 50 overs, Sri Lanka, in response, lost their reliable openers Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana cheaply. Following the early setback, Asanka Gurusinha (65) and Aravinda de Silva held the fort and built a solid partnership to get their team back in the match. Shane Warne finished the final without any wickets
Aravinda De Silva finished the match with an unbeaten 107 and, with help from skipper Arjuna Ranatunga (47), sealed a memorable seven-wicket win with almost four overs to spare. This win was Sri Lanka’s only ICC Cricket World Cup win till date, while Australia went on to win the ICC World Cricket World Cup on four occasions since i.e 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2015.