As Sri Lanka celebrates 25 years of their World Cup win in 1996, batting legend De Silva reflects on an occasion that brought joy to a war-torn country.
Facing eleven inspired Indians and a hundred thousand boisterous rival supporters at the Eden Gardens, he showed serene composure. There was no gum-chewing swagger to bring back memories of a certain Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards.
But that day, Aravinda de Silva walked into the arena like a boxer with an invincible aura. A supreme competitor that would not be deterred by the early loss of Sri Lanka’s two murderous openers — Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana – in that 1996 World Cup semifinal, after being put into bat by an Indian team that had been riding a wave of euphoria, having beaten fierce rivals Pakistan in an enthralling quarterfinal battle in Bangalore.