April 14, 1995 - Fine half-centuries from Navjot Singh Sidhu and skipper Mohammad Azharuddin against Sri Lanka in the final led India to their fourth successive Asia Cup title (they didn't take part in the second edition). This was the second time the Asia Cup was held in the United Arab Emirates.
After winning the inaugural edition of the Asia Cup in 1984, India boycotted the 1986 tournament due to strained cricketing relations with Sri Lanka. They played the third edition in Bangladesh where they defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets in the final. The 1990-91 Asia Cup was held in India and it was once again the hosts who emerged victorious by beating Sri Lanka in the final, this time by seven wickets.
The Asia Cup returned to UAE in 1995 and India commenced their campaign by thumping Bangladesh by nine wickets. They then came face to face against their arch-rivals Pakistan but were blown away by 97 runs, courtesy Inzamam-ul-Haq's 88 and Aaqib Javed's five-wicket haul. They had to beat Sri Lanka in their last league encounter and they did that with some authority. After Venkatesh Prasad and Co. restricted Sri Lanka to 202/9 in their 50 overs, Sachin Tendulkar smoked a 107-ball 112* and guided India to a victory with 101 deliveries to spare.
This win boosted their net run-rate, and then Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan in the last group match by five wickets and 115 deliveries to spare. India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan all had four points at the end of the round-robin stage, but the former two qualified for the final on the basis of a better net run-rate.
TITLE NO. 4!
Roshan Mahanama and Sanath Jayasuriya added 46 runs for the opening wicket and got Sri Lanka off to a sedate start after Indian captain Azharuddin won the toss and opted to bowl first at Sharjah. While Mahanama was slightly more defensive with his approach, Jayasuriya was willing to take risks and was scoring at a decent pace. It was Anil Kumble who gave India the first breakthrough as the legspinner knocked over Mahanama for 15. Before the dust had settled, Prasad had Jayasuriya caught behind for 22 and Sri Lanka lost all the momentum.
Two of Sri Lanka's linchpins, Aravinda de Silva and captain Arjuna Ranatunga perished without contributing much and the Islanders were soon reduced to 89/4. Despite wickets falling at the other end, Asanka Gurusinha kept one end intact and finally found a decent ally in Hashan Tillakaratne (22). The latter stuck around for a while and two put on 61 runs for the fifth wicket. Wicketkeeper-batsman Romesh Kaluwitharana (18) also played his part but it was largely because of Gurusinha, Sri Lanka got to a respectable total.
The left-handed No. 3 batsman scored 85 off 122, hitting two fours and three sixes in his innings. Sri Lanka finished with a score of 230/7. For India, Prasad and Kumble took two wickets each, while Manoj Prabhakar chipped in with one wicket.
In response, Tendulkar got India off to a rapid start by smashing a run-a-ball 41. Prabhakar was dismissed for 9 and soon after Tendulkar too fell prey to right-arm seamer Champaka Ramanayake. With 58 runs on the board, India lost both their openers and needed some solidity to dictate terms, which is exactly what Sidhu and Azharuddin did.
The two added 175 runs for the third wicket and only left the field once the target was achieved. Azharuddin remained unbeaten on a 89-ball 90, while Sidhu scored his third fifty of the tournament, remaining unconquered on a 106-ball 84. The spin trio of Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ruwan Kalpage couldn't create any impact as India comfortably got the required runs in just 41.5 overs.
With 205 runs to his name, Tendulkar ended the tournament as the leading run-getter but it was Sidhu who was named player of the series because of his consistency. In the bowling department, Kumble finished with seven wickets and was the leading wicket-taker.
- India then had to wait over 15 years to win their next Asia Cup title. Sri Lanka won the tournament in 1997, 2004 and 2008, while Pakistan clinched the title in 2000.
- India, with seven titles, are still the most successful team in the tournament. Sri Lanka are the second most successful team, with five. Meanwhile, Pakistan has emerged victorious on two occasions.