Sri Lanka look to 1996 for World Cup inspiration

April 20, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka are drawing inspiration from their 1996 World Cup victory ahead of their likely match-up with New Zealand in the next week’s semi-finals. Sri Lanka stunned India in a group game in 1996, beating them again in the semi-final before going on to lift the trophy.

Romesh Kaluwitharana, the former wicketkeeper-batsman who played in 1996, said winning against India in the group game was a huge morale booster when they met again in Calcutta.

“No one in India gave us a chance”, Kaluwitharana recalled. “I see similarities here. We have beaten New Zealand quite comprehensively and that should give the boys a load of confidence for the semi-final.”

The explosive opener, who partnered Sanath Jayasuriya in inventing pinch hitting in the 1996 World Cup, said that Kiwi hit man Shane Bond’s pace should not worry the Sri Lankan batsmen too much in Jamaica.

“Our batsmen love the ball coming onto the bat as they are free-flowing stroke makers”.

Kumara Dharmasena, a former off-spinner and another member of the 1996 champion outfit, said the Sri Lankans should take a lot of heart from their Super Eights win against New Zealand.