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De Silva Strikes Sri Lanka Gold
By Rashid Mahmood - 18 March 1996

Lahore, Pakistan, March 17 - Aravinda de Silva struck gold here on Sunday as his all-round brilliance paved the way to Sri Lankan cricketing history.

The portly 30-year-old, thrown out of the team two years ago because he was considered too fat and unfit, earned his third man-of- the-match award with three wickets, a catch and a worldclass 107 not out.

His off-breaks were a major contribution to the victory but it was his coolness under fire, however, which proved the key to Sunday's final.

The Colombo-born player came in after a jittery Sri Lankan start, two wickets down with only 23 on the board, to play an innings of a lifetime.

Dropped by wicketkeeper Ian Healy off Shane Warne early on, he brushed off the scare to produce an array of masterly strokes.

He calmed down partner Asanka Gurusinha as the pair set about hitting a dispirited Warne, the world's leading wrist spinner.

The two made 125 before the left-handed Gurusinha finally lost concentration but de Silva continued on his way with a mix of caution and soft-wristed artistry alongside his captain Arjuna Ranatunga.

De Silva is making a habit of innings of a lifetime. He made 145 against Kenya, there were 91 runs against Zimbabwe and 66 against India in a match-winning semi-final innings.

Sunday's effort, however, was for a world title. De Silva, himself known for wild rushes of impetuosity, could not have been more surgical. ``It was my duty as a senior player,'' he said.

His century on Sunday took his tournament total to 448 runs, at an average of just under 90 a visit, to confirm the Sri Lankan as the best number four in the world.

Result: Sri Lanka won by 7wkts

Man of the match: Aravinda de Silva

Key moments during the World Cup final between Sri Lanka and Australia:

Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga elects to field despite knowing that no team batting second has won the previous five World Cups.

Australia's in-form batsman Mark Waugh makes 12 before flicking Chaminda Vaas uppishly to square-leg where Sanath Jayasuriya makes no mistake.

Mark Taylor and Ricky Ponting add 101 for the second wicket before the Australian skipper is snapped up by Jayasuriya at square leg off Aravinda De Silva.

De Silva catches Steve Waugh and Stuart Law and clean bowls Ian Healy as Australia lose six wickets for 58 runs to be reduced to 205 for seven by the 45th over.

Michael Bevan makes an unbeaten 36 as he and Paul Reiffel put on 32 in the last five overs.

Jayasuriya falls victim to a close run out decision in the second over, and Romesh Kaluwitharna goes in the sixth over -top- edging a pull off Damien Fleming.

New batsman Asanka Gurusinha survives a first-ball shooter from Fleming which takes the edge and misses both the stumps and a diving Healy. In the fifth over, Gurusinha escaped being run out as Michael Bevan's throw just eludes the wickets at the non-striker's end.

De Silva is missed by wicket-keeper Ian Healy off Mark Waugh before he had settled in. The batsman goes on to make an unbeaten 107.

Gurusinha is dropped twice by Fleming and Stuart Law during his 125-run stand with De Silva for the third wicket.

Ranatunga guides the second ball of the 47th over to the third man fence to bring up Sri Lanka's maiden World Cup triumph. Light rain falls on the Gaddafi stadium soon after the match.

Source: The Daily News