Winner: Sri Lanka

Singer World Series, 1996-97

As in the World Cup six months earlier, Kalashnikovs and body searches were as characteristic of this tournament as the cricket itself. The result was just the same too. After Zimbabwe and India had been seen off, Sri Lanka - who won all their games - beat Australia in the final.

The Australians mended important fences simply by coming to Sri Lanka, which they had refused to do in the World Cup. But, largely at their behest, a fortune was spent on security. Weeks after a terrorist train bombing had once again brought tragedy to Colombo, the players were rarely allowed outside their hotel at night, though they did once take a bus to a restaurant 50 metres away.

The security worked, though - except when the sons of a local official tossed water on to the Australian players in their viewing area. And the tournament's success was a fillip for Sri Lankan morale, especially as the team were once again magnificent. Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana provided the high-octane starts that have revolutionised one-day cricket, and Aravinda de Silva was sublime. In four innings, he scored 334 without losing his wicket.

All three visiting teams had new captains. Ian Healy led Australia because Mark Taylor had a back strain; Sachin Tendulkar had recently been appointed to succeed Mohammad Azharuddin, and Alistair Campbell took over Zimbabwe because Andy Flower had decided the triple strain of captaincy, wicket-keeping and batting was too much.

In contrast, Arjuna Ranatunga had nearly eight years' experience of leading his team, and chalked up his 50th win in limited-overs internationals during the competition. Tendulkar asked wicket-keeper Nayan Mongia to open with him in one game and once threw the new ball to leg-spinner Anil Kumble. Neither move was a roaring success, but each signalled a bolder brand of Indian cricket.

Match reports for

1st Match: Australia v Zimbabwe at Colombo (RPS), Aug 26, 1996
Report | Scorecard

2nd Match: Sri Lanka v India at Colombo (RPS), Aug 28, 1996
Report | Scorecard

3rd Match: Sri Lanka v Australia at Colombo (RPS), Aug 30, 1996
Report | Scorecard

4th Match: India v Zimbabwe at Colombo (SSC), Sep 1, 1996
Report | Scorecard

5th Match: Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe at Colombo (SSC), Sep 3, 1996
Report | Scorecard

6th Match: Australia v India at Colombo (SSC), Sep 6, 1996
Report | Scorecard

Final: Sri Lanka v Australia at Colombo (RPS), Sep 7, 1996
Report | Scorecard

© John Wisden & Co