On this day in 1996, Sri Lanka made the then-highest total in ODIs, scoring 398 for 5 against Kenya in the 1996 World Cup in Kandy. Sri Lanka were already top of the group and Kenya was out of the tournament, thus making the last match of Group A a mere formality.
Kenyan captain Maurice Odumbe won the toss and asked Sri Lanka to bat first. This left their inexperienced bowlers with the tough task of containing the likes of Sanath Jayasuriya, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Asanka Gurusinha, Aravind de Silva, Arjuna Ranatunga, Hasan Tillakaratne, and Roshan Mahanama. But Kenya’s weak bowlers failed miserably, the Sri Lankan batsmen running them out of the match.
In an era where scoring 300 was a difficult task, Sri Lanka fell just two runs short of becoming the first team to score 400 in an ODI.
Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana started the Sri Lankan innings aggressively. They took his team to 50 in just 3.2 overs and had added 83 runs by the time the first wicket fell in 6.4 overs. Sanath Jayasuriya got out for 44 runs. Five runs later, Kaluwitharana was also dismissed for 33 off just 18 balls.
Sri Lanka’s middle-order batsmen took full advantage of Sri Lanka’s good start. Arvind de Silva batted explosively and was ably supported by Gurusingh. Both added 183 runs for the third wicket. Asif Karim got Kenya’s third breakthrough by dismissing Gursingh, who scored 84 off 103 balls. But the success brought no respite for Kenya, with Ranatunga appearing aggressive. Soon after, de Silva brought up his century in 92 balls and became the first Sri Lankan player to score a century in a World Cup.
When Sri Lanka ended their innings, the score was 398 in 50 overs and the Kenyan batsmen could not do much while chasing an impossible target. However, Kenya managed to post a respectable total of 254 thanks to star batsman Steve Tikolo’s 96.