Arjuna Ranatunga recalls 1996 World Cup Eden horror, taunts Indian cricket fans

Arjuna Ranatunga, former Sri Lanka captain who led the team to victory in the 1996 World Cup, has taunted Indian fans after the disturbances in the recent Pallekele ODI and has reminded them of the crowd trouble that stopped the World Cup semi-final clash against India.
Sri Lankan police personnel ask people to leave after some spectators threw plastic bottles in the ground to disrupt play during the third One-Day International (ODI) between Sri Lanka and India in Pallekele on Sunday.(AP)

Sri Lanka’s World Cup-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga on Wednesday asked his countrymen to stop behaving like Indian fans.

Sri Lankan fans had thrown bottles on the field towards the end of the third One-Day International (ODI) at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium as India cruised to a series-clinching facile win.

The match was stopped for over half an hour as the disconsolate crowd kept throwing bottles on the field. The players were sent to the dressing and for a while it looked like the match wouldn’t resume. However, the players returned to complete the formalities.

“Such incidents should not be repeated. Sri Lankans love cricket and they feel sad when we lose a match. We have made lots of sacrifices for cricket and those sacrifices had been made while losing lots of things. Every cricketer in our team is mentally depressed,” Ranatunga, who is also a minister, said while addressing the media at the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation head office.

“I request our cricket lovers not to behave like Indian spectators. We have a very good history and culture. Such misbehaviour is not accepted in our culture and history.”

Ranatunga was at the receiving end being the captain of the Sri Lankan team when Indian fans disrupted the 1996 World Cup semifinal at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Ranatunga’s men were cruising to victory before the Indian fans threw bottles on the field and burnt chairs in the stands.

The outspoken minister added that an interim committee has to be appointed to probe fraud and misappropriation in Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), the national board. He alleged that the sport was now being virtually run by gamblers who have put it at stake.

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