Bengaluru, Feb 9: While India's best bowling moment in a World Cup came on the home soil in 1987 when Chetan Sharma took a hat-trick, their worst moment came in 1996 when Manoj Prabhakar, a veteran of 129 one-day matches till then, was forced to change his bowling style to contain a batsman who was in a murdering mood. [WC feats: Kapil Dev's 175* against Zimbabwe in 1983]
World Cup Special; Tournament Guide
Thirty-three-year-old Prabhakar spearheaded the team's bowling attack in the 1996 World Cup but it was a mediocre tournament for him except the match against the West Indies in which he took 3 wickets. [WC feats: Sourav Ganguly blasted 183 against Sri Lanka in 1999]
He went wicketless against Kenya and Australia and took the field against Sri Lanka, an explosive side then, at Kotla, his home ground in a crucial tie.
India scored 271 but Lankans made the target look tiny
India scored 271 for 3 wickets in 50 overs after Sachin Tendulkar scored 137, his second ton of the tournament in 4 matches. But before the cheer of the Indian supporters died down, the Sri Lankan openers took on the Indian bowlers. Sanath Jayasuriya was particularly merciless as he belted Prabhakar at will. [Scorecard of the match]
The Lankans made 271 look a tiny target as they raced to 71 in 7 overs. Prabhakar went for 47 runs in 4 overs and never played for India again.
Why India played 4 pacers on a flat track in that match also remains a mystery
But the most humiliating factor for the man with 157 one-day wickets in his kitty was that he was forced to bowl off-spin against an unstoppable Jayasuriya who went on to score 79 off 76 balls (nine 4s, two 6s).
33 in first 2 overs, 14 in the next 2 in which Prabhakar bowled spin
While Prabhakar conceded 33 runs in his first two overs of first bowling, he bowled off-spin in his second spell of two overs to concede 14 runs. Although Jayasuriya's catch was taken by Prabhakar off an Anil Kumble delivery, making a consolation for a tragic end to a 12-year-old career.
He was booed on his home ground
Prabhakar's woes even saw fans booing him at his home ground, something that is bound to disturb any player for the rest of his life.
Recalling that match years later, Prabhakar told the media that Jayasuriya was unbeatable that day and his explosive batting was of the main reasons why Sri Lanka had lifted the cup that year.