The last time the world cup was held in the subcontinent was 15 years ago. Like many people of my age group, this is the first world cup. 15 years on, the World cup returns to the subcontinent, only to be greeted by the non availablity of Eden Gardens, a pity indeed.
But what remains frozen in mind are the memories of the most magical moments of the ’96 world cup. I can vividly remember the opening ceremony, the laser light displays (i hope) and all the gala. This was the world cup where Lanka came ahead of the pack, where teams were hit by the gale force of the Jaysuriya-Li’l Kalu combine and further pulverised by the likes of Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda De Silva. Though they went on to defeat the mighty Aussies in the finals , the most lasting memories pertain to the games that India played. Who could forget the verbal battle between Venkatesh Prasad and Aamir Sohail or the complete destruction of the pakistan bowling attack by Ajay Jadeja. Then there were solo efforts by Sachin against Windies , Australia and Lanka.
The definite moment to forget for every Indian fan would be the semifinals. It is not so much the loss but the manner in which the game had to be forfeited that still depresses me. Chasing a stiff target set by the lankans india were reduced to around 120 odd with 8 wickets down. The match had to be forfeited as a result of crowd trouble protesting the lacklustre performance from the team which was carrying the hopes of a huge nation. The image of Vinod Kambli reduced to tears while returning to the dressing room still remains fresh in memory. Lets just hope that such visuals do not manifest themselves this time around.