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Pakistan: The Host of Cricket World Cup Final 1996

February 17, 2011

International Cricket Council held the first One Day International Cricket World Cup event in 1975 in England. West Indies played the final against Australia, piled up massive 291/8 and won the match by 17 runs.

In 1987, (the fourth World Cup) event was hosted in sub-continent for the first time. Two hosts were India and Pakistan. Australia and England met in the final in Eden Gardens Kolkata, India. Australia won the title by 7 runs.

Gadaffi Stadium. Day/Night match in progress. (Date unknown)

In 1996 the Cricket World Cup was once again hosted in the sub-continent, but this time it was co- hosted by three countries, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The final of that event was held in Qadaffi Stadium, Lahore on March 17th 1996 between Sri Lanka and Australia. Sri Lanka won its sole world cup title by 7 wickets.

The final between Sri Lanka and Australia was a day/night match. Pakistan had totally renovated the stadium for the event. Here is an excerpt from ESPN about Gaddafi Stadium:

Located in the historical city of Lahore, the Gaddafi Stadium, named after the Libyan leader, was completely renovated during 1995-96 ready for the 1996 World Cup. Designed by the famous architect Nayyar Ali Dada who modelled it on the Mughal School of red hand-laid brickwork and arches, the new stadium is completely covered with plastic seating rather than concrete benches. The lower portion under the stands has been enclosed and converted to shops for boutiques and offices. This was the first stadium in Pakistan to be equipped with modern floodlights which have their own standby power generators. Modern facilities for the media are also provided.

Pakistan have enjoyed some memorable moments on the ground, including a fifth-wicket stand of 281 between Javed Miandad and Asif Iqbal against New Zealand in 1976 and an innings and 324 run win against New Zealand in 2002 The stadium hosted the final of the 1996 World Cup, which was watched by over 60,000 spectators.

Highlights of Sri Lanka Innings (WC 1996 Final)

From the spectators reactions one could easily conclude that they were supporting the Sri Lankan team.  Amid cheers and jubilation the then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto handed over the trophy to the winning team.The highlights of that match proves what a (sport) and cricket loving nation we are and what a huge loss it is for us not being able to host the World Cup 2011 due to security concerns. We may not have got to host the final this time (India hosted final in 1987 – Pakistan hosted in 1996) but still we could have got some of the matches to host.

Award Ceremony - World Cup 1996

The final blow to our dream of co-hosting the World Cup 2011 was a terrorist attack on Sri Lankan team on March 3rd 2009. Fortunately, the Sri Lankan team didn’t suffer any loss of life but it didn’t take long for ICC to conclude that it was in the best interest of all not to hold any matches in Pakistan.

Practically speaking, I don’t have a plausible argument to go against the decision of the ICC because the reality is that security situation in Pakistan is very unpredictable and it is better not to take a chance that we might regret later.

Interestingly, during 1996 World Cup Australia and West Indies refused to travel to Sri Lanka for their matches due to safety concerns and Sri Lanka was awarded both the matches. ICC must have that situation in mind. The safety of the players and management is crucial and besides World Cup is about competing and not about getting the free points.

In my previous post I talked about Pakistan team’s (ugly) kit. Here I am lamenting the fact of losing an opportunity of co-hosting such a huge event. I would once again reiterate that both things won’t matter at all if our team gave us something true to cheer about. You know what I mean!

PS: World Cup 2011 final would be held in Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai – India.

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