Sports Opinion

Revisiting 1996 “Kandy massacre” – It was on a March sixth that SL set the world’s highest ODI total

Aravinda de Silva (left) on his way to the blitzkrieg, 145 runs in 115 balls

Sri Lanka vs. Kenya, World Cup (50-over) group match at Asgiriya Stadium in Kandy on 6 March 1996:


Sri Lanka 398/5 in 50 overs (Aravinda de Silva 145 in 115 balls – 14×4, 5×6, Asanka Gurusinha 84, Arjuna Ranatunga 75 not out in 40 – 13×4, 1×6, Sanath Jayasuriya 44, Romesh Kaluwitharana 33; Tito Odumbe 2/34, Aasif Karim 1/50)

Kenya 254/7 in 50 overs (Steve Tikolo 96 in 95 balls – 8×4, 4×6, Hitesh Modi 41, Dipak Chudasama 27, David Tikolo 25 not out, Lameck Onyango 23; Arjuna Ranatunga 2/31, Muttiah Muralitharan 2/40, Chaminda Vaas 1/44)

Result: Sri Lanka won by 144 runs

Player of the Match: Aravinda de Silva

Sri Lanka’s Kandy record stood a full decade until South Africa and Australia smashed it respectively twice in the same match in Johannesburg on 12 March 2006

It was on a sixth March, a Wednesday, that Sri Lanka beat Kenya at the Agiriya here in Kandy en route to their 1996 World Cup triumph. In the same match Sri Lanka, led by maestro Arjuna Ranatunga, piled up the highest ODI innings total, with an astonishing 398/5 in 50 overs. It was by then an amazing total for a 50-over game.

The Lankans were on a real high then. Ever since the Sanath-Kalu “dynamic duo” –in the late Tony Greig’s words—came into open the Lankan innings in that morning, the Kandy city was sunken in similar joy and ecstasy.

Sri Lanka’s batting

The pair added 83 quick runs to sooth the desires of the packed crowd at Asgiriya. They expected a lightning start from the two, going by their immediate form.

Then Aravinda de Silva massacred the Kenyan attack tearing it into pieces. He amassed a quick-blow of 183 runs for the third wicket with Asanka Gurusinha. Then came Skipper Arjuna Ranatunga. The pair of Arjuna and Aravinda added 106 further for the fourth wicket in a simply unbelievable display of attacking batsmanship.

Kenyans not to surrender meekly

The days where there were no T20s, the Lankan batting feast looked an “out-of-the world phenomenon”. All Kenyans bowled that day but for two, other than their wicket-keeper.

Yet the Kenyans were NOT to surrender meekly. They fought back and displayed smart and elegant African display of hard hitting. Steve Tikolo became the backbone of their decent reply, hammering a quick 96, sharing 137 runs for the fourth wicket with Hitesh Modi (41).

Breaking an almost-decade-old record

Kenya, though, ended up at 254/7 after their fifty overs; a deficit of a massive 144 runs. But the match tally of 652 (398+254=652) stood a record that time. For a full decade, until South Africa and Australia smashed the Sri Lankan record twice in the same match –quipped “the Super Match” in Johannesburg on 12 March 2006.

There, South Africa successfully chased Aussies’ 434/4 in 50 overs and scored 438/9 in 49.5 overs. The two teams’ runs tally was 872!

On the other hand, on 6 March 1996, what Sri Lanka had surpassed was a record that had been there also for some ten years ago. The previous highest total for an ODI inning (in a 50-over match) was in October 1987, when the West Indies struck 360/4 in Karachi against (guess who) – Sri Lanka!