Kapil turns the tables on Zimbabwe
India’s match against Zimbabwe contained one of the most spectacular innings played in ODI cricket. After choosing to bat first on a pitch where the ball moved a lot, India were nine for four — soon to be 17 for five — when captain Kapil Dev walked in. No one could have foreseen then that a week later, India would be winning the whole tournament; indeed, qualification for the semi-final was in grave doubt. With Roger Binny and Madan Lal, Kapil took the score to 140 for eight. Later, Syed Kirmani provided sensible support in an unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 126. With six sixes and 16 fours, Kapil reached 175, eclipsing the top score in World Cup history — Kiwi Glenn Turner’s 170 against East Africa at Edgbaston in 1975. The partnership between Kapil and Kirmani was the highest ninth-wicket stand until Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga added 132 runs for Sri Lanka against Australia on 3 November 2010.
Akram’s deadly strikes destroy England
Defending a target of 250 in Melbourne and playing in his final World Cup, the charismatic Imran Khan had just one message to his pace attack — “forget no balls, bowl fast!” And his protégé, Wasim Akram, followed his mentor’s words to perfection. The left-armer bowled fast and literally destroyed England. First, Akram had Ian Botham caught behind, leaving the English all-rounder fuming at the decision. What happened next was magical. Steaming in and bowling with fire, Akram first bowled Allan Lamb with a beauty and then rattled Chris Lewis’ stump even before he could get his bat down. It was Akram’s sensational spell that tilted the match Pakistan’s way. And ensured their first major ODI title.
De Silva stars in winning campaign
It is not without reason that Aravinda de Silva was known as a stylish batsman. He had the ability to bring crowds to their feet with his stunning strokeplay. In Sri Lanka’s World Cup-winning campaign in 1996, he was the star in the semi-final against India and the final against Australia. In both the matches, the islanders were in dire straits, but de Silva made good use of his attacking batting to bail the team out of trouble. After the loss of early wickets in the final, de Silva came in to bat and played a match-winning knock of 107 not out. He was ably assisted by fellow veterans Asanka Gurusingha (65) and Arjuna Ranatunga (47 not out). Earlier, de Silva had scalped three Aussie wickets. Australia collapsed from 70 for one to 241 for seven. Sri Lanka reached the target with 3.3 overs to spare to clinch the team’s first major title. Of course, de Silva was named man of the match.
Australia vs South Africa ends in a tie
The semi-final between South Africa and Australia at Edgbaston on 17 June 1999 ended in a stunning tie. It was not merely the match of the tournament; it has to be one of the best ODI matches ever played. It was a compressed epic all the way through that ended in a savage twist. The tie meant that South Africa, for the third World Cup in a row, failed to reach the final despite making much of the early running. The crucial fact was that Australia finished higher than them in the Super Six table and that was determined by the obscurity of net run rate. Lance Klusener scored consecutive fours in the first two balls of the final over (bowled by Damien Fleming), levelling the scores and leaving South Africa with just one run to win from four balls with Klusener on strike. The third ball was a dot and the fourth saw Klusener mis-hit his shot to mid-wicket fielder Mark Waugh. Klusener went for the run, although the chance for a run out was high and two balls were still remaining. Donald, who was at the other end, kept his eyes on the ball. He neither saw Klusener sprinting down the pitch nor did he hear the call for the run. Klusener was almost at the bowler’s end by the time Donald (who had also dropped his bat) began running. By then, Waugh had thrown the ball to Fleming, who rolled it to Adam Gilchrist, who took the bails off at the other end, meaning Donald was run out by some distance, thus ending the match with the scores level. However, a tie meant that Australia progressed to the final since they had beaten South Africa in the group stages. Australia went on to win the tournament. Although Klusener’s heroics went in vain, he was named player of the tournament.
Dravid and Ganguly in record partnership
An undisciplined Sri Lankan bowling, a pitch of even bounce, short boundaries and batting that ranged from the classical to the brutal set a welter of ODI records at Taunton on 26 May 1999. The partnership between Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, which yielded 318 runs from 45 overs, was the highest in any ODI match, surpassing the previous record of 275 set by Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja against Zimbabwe at Cuttack on 9 April 1998. Ganguly made 183 in 158 balls, with 16 fours and seven sixes, the fourth-highest ODI score and the second best in World Cup history behind Gary Kirsten’s 188 not out against the United Arab Emirates in 1996. India’s 373 for six was the second highest total in ODIs after Sri Lanka’s 398 for five against Kenya in the 1996 World Cup. Sri Lanka restored Romesh Kaluwitharana to the opener’s slot, but once he and Sanath Jayasuriya were out within five overs, the game was all but finished. Thus ended Sri Lanka’s defence of the cup.
Ponting’s blitzkrieg against India
Australian captain Ricky Ponting made the 2003 final against a resurgent India a no-contest with one of the finest batting displays in World Cup history. Put into bat by Sourav Ganguly, Ponting came out with all guns blazing. The Indian bowlers had no clue as to where to bowl to the marauding Aussie skipper. Ponting and Damien Martyn ripped the Indian bowling apart. The century partnership had taken the duo 109 balls, but only 64 were needed for the next 100 as the run rate soared. Ponting took just 29 deliveries to get from 50 to 100, finishing with a stunning 140 from 121 balls. He thumped eight sixes, all in the arc between long-on and square leg, and the stunning acceleration took the spotlight away from Martyn, who too was brilliant with a 84-ball 88, made with a broken finger. Australia made a stunning 359 for two in 50 overs. India lost by 125 runs.
Malinga’s four wickets in four balls
An extraordinary spell of fast bowling by Lasith Malinga, in which he strung together a devastating sequence of four wickets in four balls, threatened to produce the greatest ODI heist before South Africa scrambled to a dramatic one-wicket victory in a heart-stopping Super Eights clash at Providence Stadium, Guyana, on 28 March 2007. With five wickets in hand, South Africa needed just four runs to win when Malinga packed off batsmen as if swatting flies. He fooled Shaun Pollock with a beauty of a slower ball before hurrying Andrew Hall with a juddering yorker. The first ball of the next over produced a stunning hat-trick, only the fifth in World Cup history, when Jacques Kallis nicked to the wicketkeeper. In the next ball, a brute of a yorker zoomed past Makhaya Ntini. In fact, no bowler in ODI history has managed four wickets in four balls — Saqlain Mushtaq had managed four in five — and Malinga took Sri Lanka to the brink of an outrageous daylight robbery.