World Cup

Highlight reel

In the lead up to the cricket World Cup, the first stage of The Hindu's Countdown coverage will look back at each of the editions, with big-picture essays, snapshots of defining performances, and excerpts of reports and photographs of the finals curated from The Hindu’s archives.

Gary ‘Gus’ Gilmour had so many tricks up his sleeve that even his skipper Ian Chappell could not fathom them until the semifinal.

Chappell did not look beyond Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomsom, Max Walker and off-break bowler Ashley Mallett in the three league matches. But overcast conditions, and a damp and green pitch at Headingley (Leeds) on the morning of June 18 compelled him to make one defining change against England; he got in Gilmour for Mallett.

Gilmour went on to bring down six England batsmen for a mere 14 in 12 overs. Then when John Snow, Chris Old and Geoff Arnold reduced Australia to 39 for 6, Gilmour struck a match-winning 28 not out off as many balls.

In the final against the West Indies, Gilmour (12-2-48-5) came second best to Clive Lloyd, whose splendid century clinched the title for the West Indies. But Gilmour required just two games to take the bowling honours with 11 wickets ahead of West Indians Bernard Julien and Keith Boyce (10 each in five).

While Clive ‘Super Cat’ Lloyd received all accolades for making the West Indies ‘kings of one-day cricket’ at Lord’s on June 21 — rightly so because of his fine attacking century — his Guyanese teammate Alvin Kallicharran was responsible for putting West Indies in the final with an elegant knock of 72 off 92 balls with seven fours and one six against New Zealand in the semifinals at the Oval.

Chasing 158 that New Zealand made in 52.2 overs, the West Indies lost Roy Fredericks at 8. Thereafter it was a Kallicharran ‘Man-of-the-match’ show; he and Gordon Greenidge put paid to the Kiwis’ aspirations with a 125-run stand for the second wicket.

Kallicharran also paved the way for the West Indies’ league match win against Australia at the Oval; this time it was the left-hander’s onslaught against Dennis Lillee that resembled a prize-fight. The batsman dealt the knock-out blow with 35 runs off ten consecutive deliveries from the Australian speedster with seven 4s and one 6.

Until the league match against Pakistan at Edgbaston, Deryck Lance Murray, with a ‘goatee’, was known more for converting snicks into catches for the famous West Indies fast bowlers. But, on this eventful day, he produced a match-winning knock (61 not out, 6x4) that made a writer describe him as the ‘piratical-looking Trinidadian wicket-keeper’.

After this super effort in the West Indies’ second match of the competition, Murray did not get a chance to bat in the next two games before making 14 in the final.

Set a target of 267, the West Indies lost Vanburn Holder at 203, leaving Murray with the Antiguan tail-ender Andy Roberts. A miracle was needed and the last pair produced just that — a 64-run stand — as ale bottles disappeared from a large crate in an anxious West Indies dressing room.

Lloyd himself admitted that he consumed a bottle of ‘Pale ale’ at the end of each over of that astonishing partnership. - G. Viswanath

At 99 for four, the West Indians were not in a happy frame of mind. Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Alvin Kallicharran and Clive Lloyd were all back in the pavilion when King joined Viv Richards in the middle.

King went on to dominate their 139-run stand even as 'King' Viv watched from the other end.

“Every time I told him to take it easy, he hit the ball farther and farther. He was in that special frame of mind," wrote Richards later.

King hammered 86 off 66 balls with 10 fours and three sixes in an innings regarded as one of the defining moments in world cricket for its sheer brilliance under adverse circumstances.

India had suffered scathing criticism for its forgettable debut (against England) in the 1975 opener. The scars were fresh when it took on the mighty West Indies at Edgbaston. Asked to bat, India soon realised that it had made little progress in this form of the game.

Visvanath arrived at 24 for two and when he departed, the team had 163 on the board. Known to dominate, Visvanath produced some silken strokeplay against an attack that included Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft. Even Clive Lloyd called it a “superb innings”. Though his knock could not prevent India from slipping to another defeat, Visvanath shone with his masterly essay.

The freezing and windy conditions at Nevill Ground, Tunbridge Wells, on June 18, 1983 was not ideal for a game of cricket. India, after defeats against Australia (Trent Bridge) and West Indies (The Oval), was caught in a mayhem of sorts – Zimbabwe’s new-ball operators Peter Rawson and Kevin Curran caused the downfall of the top-order for 17 – but Kapil Dev bestrode the scene like a champion, took the Zimbabweans head-on and single-handedly turned the match with an unconquered 175 (138b, 16x4, 1x6).

He received support from Roger Binny, Madan Lal and Syed Kirmani, and what looked improbable – playing out 60 overs – turned into a reality.

175 N.O. (16x4, 1x6)


Considered a lightweight by all, Zimbabwe performed the giant-killing act on its ODI debut against Australia at Trent Bridge.

Duncan Fletcher was the chief architect, contributing with bat and ball. Slotted at No. 6, the left-handed Fletcher took guard at the fall of his captain David Houghton at 86, and did not return to the pavilion until the 60th over was completed. During the course of his 139-minute stoical display, he faced 84 balls and struck only five boundaries against a seam attack comprising Geoff Lawson, Rodney Hogg, Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson.

Then, with his right-arm medium-pace, Fletcher removed four of the top five batsmen – Graeme Wood, Kim Hughes, David Hookes and Graham Yallop – to earn his side a great victory.

69 N.O. & 4 FOR 42

When a captain has the likes of Andy Roberts and Michael Holding, one does not expect a third fast bowler to scythe through a rival batting line-up. West Indies skipper Clive Lloyd gave St. Vincent-born Winston Davis a chance in the absence of Malcolm Marshall and the latter made life miserable for the Australian batsmen in the middle at Headingley, Leeds, and upstaged his own fellow West Indians. With Davis in such lethal form, Australia fell short of the West Indies total by 101 runs. After Graeme Wood retired, hit by a Holding bouncer, Davis made the Australian batsmen quiver and finished with 10.3-0-51-7, the best World Cup bowling figures for 20 years before Glenn McGrath and Andy Bichel took for 7 for 15 and 7 for 20 in 2003.

7 FOR 51

David Houghton’s amazing assault at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium in Hyderabad is rated one of the finest in World Cup history. It was only the fourth match of the competition and was talked of much after the Cup was over.

Presented a target of 243, Zimbabwe fell a mere three runs short. From 104 for seven, Houghton, in the company of Iain Butchart, carried the score to 221. Having come to the crease at eight for one, Houghton played a dream innings of 142 off 137 balls with 13 fours and six sixes.

With victory in sight, he heaved Martin Snedden only for Martin Crowe to come up with an incredible catch. It needed a superlative catch to end a superlative innings. Zimbabwe lost, but Houghton, the man-of-the-match, won the hearts.

142 (137 balls, 13 fours, 6 sixes)

The man who crawled to 36 not out in a 60-over contest on his World Cup debut, signed off in great style with a century to cherish against New Zealand at Nagpur. He chose the stage to showcase the aggressive side of his batsmanship, much to the chagrin of the Kiwis. The target was 222 and India accomplished it with nine wickets and 107 balls remaining thanks to Gavaskar going berserk. He played nearly every shot in the book and crafted an unbeaten 103 off 88 balls with 10 fours and a six, outshining partners K. Srikkanth and Mohammad Azharuddin, both known for their attacking instincts at the crease. Gavaskar shared the man-of-the-match award with Chetan Sharma, who had earlier achieved a hat-trick.

103 (88 balls, 10 fours 3 sixes)

Bombay was bustling and the Wankhede Stadium bursting at its seams when India played England in the semifinals. Dilip Vengsarkar reporting sick was a blow, but more trouble lay in store in the shape of Graham Gooch. India had planned well, but England had its tactics in place to counter the slow pitch the host had prepared.

The emphasis was on exploiting the spin strength of Maninder Singh and Ravi Shastri, but Gooch was better prepared. He demonstrated batting skills of the highest class, the century a testimony to the opener’s form and discipline. He employed the sweep shot to deadly effect and created gaps at will even as India skipper Kapil Dev tried to contain his proficiency against the turning ball. Gooch and Mike Gatting put on 117 runs in a match-deciding third-wicket stand. Gooch’s contribution was 115!

115 (136 balls, 11 fours)

It must have come as no surprise to the England team to see Imran Khan walk out to bat after the fall of the first wicket - Aamer Sohail. The Pakistan skipper, who handed over the reins to Javed Miandad in the league games against the West Indies and England, had batted at No. 4 against South Africa and promoted himself to No. 3 in the league match against Sri Lanka and semifinal against New Zealand. He laid the foundation by scoring 44, before Miandad and Inzamam-ul-Haq guided the team home.

The decision of the 39-year-old, who had sensed something special ever since his side turned the tide with a win against Australia, turned out to be productive and inspirational as he contributed a weighty 72 with six fours and one six. He was also involved in a match-changing 139-run partnership for the third wicket with Miandad.

72 (5x4, 1x6)

Zimbabwe’s smart new ball operator, a chicken farmer, created quite a sensation, dismissing Graham Gooch, Allan Lamb, Robin Smith and Graeme Hick on a day when England was expected to romp home while chasing a target of 135. Brandes’s spectacular spell of 10-4-21-4 earned his side a splendid win and him the man-of-the-match award.

Though Zimbabwe's nine-run win at Albury, New South Wales, was not as big as the one over Australia in the 1983 World Cup, it was a truly memorable performance from the side, Brandes in particular.

The New Zealand captain was the cynosure of all eyes right from the start of the World Cup. Off-spinner Dipak Patel must have been surprised when his skipper tossed the new ball to him, and also elevated Mark Greatbatch to the top of the batting order. He also put a heavy price on his wicket, emerging the highest scorer for the Kiwis and also the player-of-the-tournament. Crowe showed steely resolve in the semifinal, coming out to bat at No. 4 even when he was not fully fit. Enduring cramps and a nagging hamstring, he batted for more than two hours, striking seven fours and three sixes before getting run out for 91. Though the Kiwis finished with 262 on the board, it was not enough to stop Pakistan.

91 (7x4, 3x6)

Aravinda de Silva, reserving his best for the big occasion, produced an innings of sheer brilliance - easily one of the finest in a World Cup final. His batting was close to perfection: no false step, no hurried shots. Silken drives and lofted shots embellished his glorious knock. The Sri Lankan had earlier rolled his arm over with success, claiming the wickets of Mark Taylor, Ricky Ponting, and Ian Healy. It was genius at work.

(three for 42 & 107 not out)

For Richie Richardson, the world had come crashing at Pune when the West Indies shockingly succumbed to debutant Kenya. It got tougher when the Caribbeans faced a must-win situation in the match against Australia. With Brian Lara (60) for company, the skipper put the team on course despite the best efforts of Shane Warne and Mark Waugh to stifle the duo on a slow track. Though Richardson lost his partner midway through the innings, he continued gamely, playing some exquisite and innovative drives to take his team past the finish line.

93 not out (133b, 10x4, 1x6).

The wily Warne, who can be a threat even on placid pitches, found the Mohali wicket to his liking. Pursuing a modest 207, the West Indians were within sniffing distance when they reached 165 for two. After Glenn McGrath sent back the dangerous Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the leg-spinner got into the act, removing Ottis Gibson, Jimmy Adams and Ian Bishop. Despite his side not having a big total to defend, Warne attacked relentlessly and was rewarded for his accuracy and enterprise.


He was an attacking leg-spinner, yet astonishingly accurate. Shane Warne created pressure with his precision and struck with his turn and bounce against the South Africans in the titanic semifinal clash at Edgbaston. With Australia defending just 213, Warne assumed centre-stage with his teasing spin. He bowled Herschelle Gibbs with a huge leg-spinner to open the sluice-gates, and later in the innings, prised out Jacques Kallis with a delivery of flight, dip and spin that forced a miscued drive. The match ended in a tumultuous tie. Australia progressed because it had finished higher in the Super Six table. Warne was the toast.


His easy back swing, timing and the left-handed elegance made Sourav Ganguly the cynosure when in mood. The southpaw was in full flow against the Sri Lankans at Taunton. The ground was small and the Sri Lankan bowling lacked discipline. Ganguly and a strokeful Rahul Dravid (145) added 318 runs in 45 overs for the second wicket as many records fell by the wayside. His cover-drives graceful, Ganguly also dismissed the sphere beyond the ropes with regularity. He reached his 100 in 119 balls and then changed gears to reach 183 in only 39 more deliveries. At the top of the order in the ODIs, Ganguly was a formidable adversary.

183, 158b, 17x4, 7x6.

Stressful situations brought the best out of Steve Waugh. The situation could not have been more demanding when captain Waugh walked in with Australia, chasing 272, in trouble at 48 for three against South Africa in its final Super Six game at Leeds. A defeat would signal Australia’s exit. Waugh took guard, and then counted the number of fielders on either side in that typical manner of his. He proceeded to play one of the great World Cup innings. Dropped by Herschelle Gibbs at mid-wicket on 56 — he grassed the ball in his anxiousness to celebrate — the gutsy Waugh made the South Africans pay. He paced the innings beautifully, rotating the strike or launching into weighty strokes. Australia was home by five wickets. Under pressure, Waugh was among the very best.

120 not out, 110b, 10x4, 2x6.

Skippers are supposed to lead from the front and Ricky Ponting did exactly that. It helped that, by the time he strode to the wicket, Australia had won the bragging rights, as Zaheer Khan’s ill-advised attempt to sledge Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden showed.

Ponting’s unbeaten 140 (121b, 4x4, 8x6) began as a slow march – the first 50 came off 74 deliveries – before acquiring a mind-numbing ferocity. He needed just 29 balls to move from 50 to 100, treating the Indian bowlers with disdain.

Such was the Australian captain’s mastery, Damien Martyn (88 not out), with whom he shared a match-altering 234-run third-wicket partnership, was left in the shadows. Australia scored a mammoth 359 for two and India never recovered.

140 n.o. (121b, 4x4, 8x6)

Ashish Nehra can look laconic, but against England at Durban’s Kingsmead, he proved that appearances can be deceptive. The left-arm seamer was at his menacing best and the reward, a six for 23, still the finest for an Indian bowler in a World Cup.

India scored 250 for nine and England lost its openers Nick Knight and Marcus Trescothick within seven overs. From there, Nasser Hussain’s men went downhill in a city which has the highest people of Indian-origin outside India. Nehra was simply unplayable: his length impeccable and line perfect as he induced doubts in the minds of the batsmen as England was shot out for 168.

Nehra, who bowled unchanged, celebrated each dismissal with his hands spread out -- joy palpable before losing himself among his ecstatic teammates.


The SuperSport Park at Centurion was packed with India taking on Pakistan in a World Cup contest. The historical rivalry and India’s all-win record against its neighbour in the big tournament were the props and the stage was set.

Pakistan rode on Saeed Anwar’s 101 to post 273 for seven and its bowling line-up featured Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar and Waqar Younis.

But, India, especially Sachin Tendulkar, was ready. “For many of our fans this was the true final,” Tendulkar wrote in his autobiography Playing It My Way.

Tendulkar, who took first strike, drove Akram past cover, but it was the second over that defined the game. Akhtar steamed in and Tendulkar slashed him for six over third-man. He smashed a 98 (75b, 12x4, 1x6) and put India on the path to victory.

98 (75b, 12x4, 1x6)

The squash ball did the trick for this mercurial left-hander on the biggest stage of them all. In the World Cup final.

Short of runs and searching for form, the inventive Gilchrist had a squash ball in his left glove to improve grip. The ploy worked as the fielders were left following the flight of the ball as it disappeared into the stands.

In a breathtaking onslaught, Gilchrist smashed 149, the highest individual score in a World Cup final. The Sri Lankan attack was blown away as Gilchrist drove big, pulled and cut.

In a rain-shortened summit clash, the affable Gilchrist’s fury with the willow will haunt the Sri Lankans for long.

149, 104b, 13x4, 8x6

Well past his prime, McGrath was still mean. He probed the batsmen relentlessly in the corridor, gave little away and struck vital blows. The Aussie was down in pace but not in quality.

McGrath’s timeless virtues of control, bounce and just the hint of movement rocked the South Africans in the semifinals at St. Lucia. Importantly, he prised out Jacques Kallis, castling the master batsman.

He then dismissed Ashwell Prince and Mark Boucher. South Africa was reeling at 27 for five. The match as a contest was virtually over. McGrath’s spell with the new ball had been decisive.

The Aussie picked up 26 wickets in the competition, the most in a World Cup. He was, rightly, adjudged the Player of the Tournament. The ageing McGrath was a distinct threat in the Caribbean.


His lightness of feet was captivating. He forced the bowler to alter length, timed the ball.

Whether travelling back or waltzing forward, Jayawardene presented a fine picture as he dismantled the otherwise efficient Kiwi attack in the semifinal at Sabina Park. A natural, he also pierced the gaps, lofted over the infield.

Jayawardene’s unbeaten 115 lifted Sri Lanka from a rather shaky 152 for four to a game-clinching 289 for five.

These gifted players…they make a difference when it matters.

115 not out, 109b, 10x4, 3x6.

Compiled by S. Dinakar

Until the final against Sri Lanka at Mumbai, Indian skipper M.S. Dhoni, by his exhilarating standards, was a dull presence with the bat. In seven preceding innings, he totted up a mere 150 and when India while chasing Sri Lanka’s 274 for six, was placed at 114 for three in the 22nd over, none expected Dhoni to stride out and that too ahead of an in-form Yuvraj Singh.

He precisely did that, a move he later explained as a counter against Muttiah Muralitharan’s middle-passage spells. The two, having shared the Chennai Super Kings colours in the Indian Premier League, were aware of each other’s acumen.

Dhoni negated the spin-legend, and strung two defining partnerships – 109 with Gautam Gambhir for the fourth-wicket and a match-winning undefeated 54-run alliance for the fifth-wicket with Yuvraj Singh.

Dhoni’s unbeaten 91 was the icing on India’s cake. It was a tremendous knock that negated the nerve-numbing pressure which finals are supposed to bequeath.

91 n.o. (79b, 8x4, 2x6)

Champions in 1999, 2003 and 2007, Australia squared up against India in the quarterfinals at Ahmedabad. Skipper Ricky Ponting’s 104 helped Australia finish with 260 for six and in reply, the chequered Indian batting line-up had its starts but left the finishing role to Yuvraj Singh.

Walking in at number five with India on 143 for three, the southpaw witnessed the dismissals of Gambhir and Dhoni. India was placed at a tricky 187 for five in the 38th over but as it was through the tournament, the force was with Yuvraj. He found an ally in Suresh Raina and a five-wicket win with 14 deliveries to spare was secured.

Yuvraj (57 n.o.) went down on one knee and screamed. It was the exhilaration of a man, who did his job despite spending sleepless nights coughing with a life-threatening disease lurking inside him.

Add to it his earlier two wickets (Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke) and you get a picture of his enormous contribution.

57 n.o. (65b, 8x4), two for 44

It was literally a David stunning Goliath tale and when it happens between neighbours Ireland and England, surely sport acquires a wicked twist. At Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium, England was sitting pretty with 327 for eight, apparently enough to snuff out Ireland.

Just that William Porterfield’s troops had other ideas, especially all-rounder Kevin O’Brien. Ireland stayed brisk but at 106 for four while pursuing a 300 plus target, the minnows were expected to wilt. The script was torn apart as O’Brien took the match by the scruff of its neck.

He pulverised the England attack. None were spared and Andrew Strauss found his best-laid plans in a shambles. The Irish tail too wagged but it was O’Brien’s 50-ball hundred (he eventually finished with 113 before being run-out) the fastest in World Cup history, that helped Ireland surpass England and grab a three-wicket victory. The underdog had roared and the crowd just loved every bit of it.

113 (63b, 13x4, 6x6)

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 12:28:27 am |