The ICC World Cup - A glance at the past! – Part II

Sudeshna Guha Roy

Continued from Part-I

Though Australia were crowned the World Champions in 1987, the trophy did not return to them until 1999, the same year when the tournament again returned back to where it began, England!

5. The 1992 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand

Pakistan’s Imran Khan and his boys lifted their first World Cup trophy in 1992, the year which also marked the advent of coloured clothes and floodlights in cricket.

With nine teams competing this time, the group stage was converted into the league stage from which four teams, namely New Zealand, Pakistan, England and South Africa moved into the semis.

New Zealand batsmen braved fierce Pakistani bowling attack to put up 262 runs on their board. Pakistan however, had no issues in chasing down the target, thanks to surprise performer Inzamam-ul-Haq. For South Africa, it seemed that destiny had entirely opposite plans. They needed 22 runs off 13 balls when it started raining. As the rain stopped, the revised target needed them to get 21 off one ball. England thus, by default, won the match by 19 runs.

In the final, Pakistan posted a highly competitive 249 against England, thanks to some superb display of cricket by Imran Khan (79), Javed Miandad (58) and Inzamam-ul-Haq (42). Bowlers Wasim Akram and Mushtaq Ahmed defended their target well enough as they claimed three wickets each to help Pakistan win the final by 22 runs and lift their first ever World Cup trophy.

6. The 1996 World Cup in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka:

Once termed as the minnows in the tournament now walked away with the World Cup trophy – that is story of Sri Lanka when they won the World Cup in 1996, the year when the tournament once again returned to the Indian sub-continent.

With 12 teams competing this time around, Holland, Kenya, United Arab Emirates being the minnows, the tournament also introduced quarterfinals, in which four teams from each group of six would qualify.

While Sri Lanka, India, Australia and West Indies qualified from Group A, England, Pakistan, South Africa and New Zealand emerged to be the biggies in Group B.

After surprising everyone by topping their group, Sri Lanka went on to beat the England by 5 wickets in the quarterfinal stage, thus, making it to the semis for the first time ever. India, meanwhile, stood tall against Pakistan as bowlers Venkatesh Prasad and Anil Kumble grabbed a 39-run victory for their team at Bangalore.

South Africa, on the other hand, failed to chase down the West Indies’ target of 264 runs as the Caribbean nation once again made their way into the semis and Australia booked the last semis berth for themselves after beating New Zealand by 6 wickets.

The first semifinals between India and Sri Lanka saw a dramatic turn of events as India unexpectedly slid down to 120/8 in pursuit of their target of 251. The result – a disastrously upset crowd at Eden Gardens setting fire on the stands, thus making Sri Lanka the winners ‘by default’. Australia, on the other, put an end to the Windies’ run in the World Cup as spin wizard Shane Warne, along with Glenn McGrath and Damien Fleming, did not allow the Caribbean batsmen to accomplish their target chase, and thus, took their team to the final.

The final between Australia and Sri Lanka was dominated by just one man – Aravinda de Silva. He took three wickets, including that of Australian captain Mark Taylor and Ricky Ponting, and two catches and later went on to slam a sizzling unbeaten 107 as Australia seemed in no position to defend their 241. Reaching their target with 3.4 overs to spare, Sri Lanka became the first ever host country to win the World Cup!

7. The 1999 World Cup in England:

The 1999 World Cup saw the trophy go back to former World Champions, Australia.

The 12 participating nations were divided into 2 groups of six, from which the best three teams would move up to the ‘Super Six’ level. The best four teams in the Super Six would hence feature in the semis. The idea, however, had major drawbacks as washed-out matches and faulty points system lead to Zimbabwe topping their group ahead of teams like India, Sri Lanka and England.

Zimbabwe’s run, nevertheless, was short lived as they lost all their matches in the Super Sixes, thus, to be eliminated from the tournament. India lost two of their three matches and ended their run in the World Cup. Australia and South Africa won two of their three matches and moved into the semis with Pakistan and New Zealand, both of who qualified with a solitary win.

It was an easy victory for Pakistan against New Zealand in the first semis as Saeed Anwar’s unbeaten 113 and Wajahatullah Wasti’s smashing 84 runs were enough for them to chase down 242-run target. The match between Australia and South Africa, on the contrary, remained a tight one.

South Africa had almost chased down Australia’s 213 as they needed just 9 runs of the last over to claim a victory. Lance Klusener slammed two boundaries off Damien Fleming’s first two deliveries. But unfortunately, a miscommunication between him and Allan Donald in the fourth ball led to the latter being run-out. The match resulted in a draw, but Australia reached the final as they had a better record in the Super Sixes.

The final brought the most expected results as the Pakistani team failed to hold on and were all out for 132 runs, a target which was easily accomplished by a half-ton by Adam Gilchrist (54) and decent partnership between Mark Waugh (37 not out) and Ricky Ponting (24). The Australians, thus, lifted their second World Cup trophy!

8. The 2003 World Cup in South Africa:

Australia’s dominance continued in the 21st century as Ricky Ponting and his boys picked the World Cup for the second consecutive year, their third in all.

With more teams than ever, 14 to be precise, participating this year, the World Cup saw more number of one-sided matches than expected. The ICC continued with the faulty Super Six concept as the South African monsoons washed out some crucial matches and political and social unrest resulted in the boycotting of many others. As a result, Pakistan and West Indies could not even reach the Super Sixes.

The ‘surprise’ performers this time were the Kenyans as they reached the semis with wins over Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Canada and Sri Lanka. Australia, meanwhile, were at their best of their forms as maintained an all clean record in the Super matches. Sri Lanka too registered convincing victories in all their Super matches to join Australia in the semis, while India defeated an already hopeless side to book the final berth.

The semis made Australia struggle a bit as they somehow managed to reach 212/7 in their stipulated 50 overs. Brett Lee later demolished the Sri Lankan top order before the rain halted the match, and Australia won the match by 48 runs through D/L method. India, meanwhile, claimed an easy victory over Kenya. Sourav Ganguly’s unbeaten 111 and Sachin Tendulkar’s solid 83 set a 270-run target, something which was too big to achieve for the Kenyans.

The final clash was an outright display of Australian domination. After Harbhajan Singh claimed a couple of wickets on form on Adam Gilchrist (57) and Matthew Hayden (37), there was nothing that the Indians could do as skipper Ricky Ponting (140 not out) and Damien Martyn (88) continued to abuse the Indian bowlers with the bat. Chasing a humungous total of 359 runs, the Indian batsmen fell like a pack of cards as Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Andrew Symonds dismissed the Indian order with 10.4 overs to spare.

Australia’s reign, hence, continued!

9. The 2007 World Cup in West Indies:

Australia continued to rule world cricket after they defended their title for the third time in a row. Apart from Australia’s victory, there is no other reason why people would like to remember this World Cup.

The teams, this time, were divided into four groups of four; two from each group would qualify for the Super Eight.

For Pakistan, it was a year to forget. The world media condemned them for their shameful loss to West Indies and Ireland in the group stage, which eliminated them from the tournament. As they dealt with the criticism, the mysterious death of their coach Bob Woolmer rocked the world. The Jamaican police claimed that he had been murdered even as nothing was proved.

Meanwhile, the Indians were sent packing back home, courtesy their miserable slump against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the group stage. Both, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka moved to the Super Eight from Group B. They were joined by Australia and South Africa from Group A, New Zealand and England from Group C and West Indies and Ireland from Group D.

As expected, the Australians dominated the Super Eights by registering wins in their every outing. The West Indies, however, disappointed their home crowd, losing five of their seven matches. Australia were joined by Sri Lanka, New Zealand and South Africa in the semis.

The Lankans claimed a thumping victory over New Zealand: first, Mahela Jayawardene slammed an unbeaten 115 to help his team post a competitive 289 runs, and then, spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan picked four crucial wickets to restrict the Kiwis at 208 runs. Australia’s semis clash against South Africa was a one-sided encounter as well. Shaun Tait and Glenn McGrath seven wickets in all as the Proteas wrapped up their innings at 149 runs. The chase was piece of cake for Australia, thanks to Matthew Hayden (41) and Michael Clarke (60 not out).

Adam Gilchirst slammed a sizzling 149 as Australia tamed the Lankan lions in the finals, to settle 1996’s issues and lift their fourth World Cup trophy, their third in a row and fourth overall!