Sri Lanka Could Have Won 1996, 2003, 2007 and 2011 Cricket WC Finals Without Murali and Arnold
Posted on November 20th, 2023

Dilrook Kannangara

Facts are stranger than fiction! Can Sri Lankans handle the truth?

Team Sri Lanka won the ICC Cricket World Cup Final in 1996, were Finalists in 2007 and 2011 and Semi-Finalists in 2003.

A careful look at the scorecards of all the above Final and one Semi-Final (2003) matches reveals that Murali and Arnold took just one wicket in total (that is Shane Warne who is not a dangerous batsman). Absolutely no catches and no runouts by them. Just 3 runs scored by them in total.

Emphasis is only the Final (1996, 2007 and 2011) and 2003 Semi-Final matches only. They did perform better in matches to the lead up to these matches. However, in the most crucial matches SL played in all these World Cups, they were not useful.

I don’t infer that they deliberately underperformed. They didn’t. I only say replacing them for all these crucial matches would have yielded better results.

They could have been replaced in the 1996, 2007 and 2011 Finals and in the 2003 Semi-Final (and the Final after winning that). Instead of them, Sri Lanka had other spinners and batsmen who could have taken their place in these crucial matches with potentially better outcomes.

In 1996 Final Sri Lanka could have played Upul Chandana who’s also a spinner and a much better bat than Murali. Since Murali took just one wicket in the Final with unremarkable bowling, Upul could have easily bettered him.

For the 2003 Semi Final Sri Lanka could have played Avishka Gunawardane and Jehan Mubarak or Rangana Herath (not in the squad) instead of Arnold and Murali.

For the 2007 Final Sri Lanka could have played Upul Chandana or Rangana Herath (not included in the squad) and Mohommad Maharoof instead of Murali and Arnold. In fact, Arjuna did say he was surprised for the selection of Arnold instead of Upul.

As for the 2011 Final Sri Lanka could have won it had it replaced Murali with Rangana Herath.

Playing for so many curial matches and ending up with just 1 unremarkable wicket, no catches, no runouts and just 3 runs is telling.

Cricketing fortunes are cyclical. No one can expect a national team to perform well across years. There was a time when India could be easily beaten by Sri Lanka, West Indies was a feared team, New Zealand was a beatable team for Sri Lanka and Bangladesh was a guaranteed win for Sri Lanka. Things have changed and will change again. The important thing is to grab opportunities when they come and win it. The difference between the winner and the other finalist is not just the gap in runs or wickets. There is a world of difference.

Scorecards of those crucial matches can be found in the following links.

IND vs SL, ICC Cricket World Cup 2010/11, Final at Mumbai, April 02, 2011 – Full Scorecard

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IND vs SL, ICC Cricket World Cup 2010/11, Final at Mumbai, April 02, 201… Get cricket scorecard of Final, IND vs SL, ICC Cricket World Cup 2010/11 at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai dated Apri…

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