SPECIALS – Revisiting trans-Tasman clashes at the World Cup

  One of the most awaited matches of the 2015 World Cup will be played between New Zealand and Australia, the co-hosts of the tournament, at Auckland’s Eden Park on 28th February. Remarkably, this will be the first complete ODI between the two neighbours since the 2011 World Cup.

  On the eve of the blockbuster clash, let us look back at the eight previous instances of Australia meeting New Zealand in a World Cup match. The Australians clearly enjoy a better record, with six wins as against New Zealand’s two.

Group Stage, Indore, 1987

  No play was possible on the day of the match due to rain, and thus a shortened 30-overs-a-side match was played on the following reserve day. After New Zealand captain Jeff Crowe inserted Australia in, Martin Snedden delivered early by removing Geoff Marsh with the score on 17.

  David Boon (87 from 96 balls) and Dean Jones (52 from 48) put on 117 off 98 balls for the second wicket to put Australia in charge. Dipak Patel accounted for the latter, following which captain Allan Border came out and scored a quickfire 34 to add meat to the total. Australia ended at a strong 199/4 off the allotted 30 overs.

  New Zealand openers Ken Rutherford (37) and John Wright (47) signalled their intent with a stand of 83 in just 12 overs, before Simon O’Donnell removed both of them within the space of 11 runs. Martin Crowe, batting at number three was looking in fine touch and he carried on with the task despite wickets falling around him.

  The final over began with New Zealand needing seven to win with four wickets in hand. Steve Waugh bowled a splendid last over, removing Crowe (58 from 46 balls) and Ian Smith off the first two balls and then allowing only three runs as New Zealand were restricted to 196/9. The last five wickets fell for 29 runs.

Group Stage, Chandigarh, 1987

  Australia yet again triumphed in a closely-fought encounter, thanks to an excellent hundred from Geoff Marsh. After deciding to bat, Australia rode on a 126-run second-wicket stand between Marsh and Dean Jones (56). But the middle order failed to build on this start as the score nosedived from 151/1 to 193/6. Marsh kept on going, and ended with an uneaten 126 from 149 balls, with the team total being 251/8.

  In reply, openers Martin Snedden and John Wright put on 72 before Steve Waugh dismissed the former. Wright scored a solid 61 and was third out with the score on 127. At 173/3, New Zealand were in with a great chance with Ken Rutherford and Jeff Crowe looking comfortable in the middle.

  Captain Allan Border gave his side the opening by removing Crowe, and Australia never let go of the advantage. New Zealand were bowled out for 234 in 48.4 overs, with Waugh and Border claiming two wickets each at a tidy economy rate. New Zealand’s hopes of making the semifinals were dashed.

League Stage, Auckland, 1992

  The co-hosts of the 1992 World Cup clashed in the opening game at Auckland. New Zealand got off to a poor start after captain Martin Crowe elected to bat, losing John Wright and Andrew Jones with only 13 runs on the board. This brought Crowe to the crease, and he proceeded to play a fine captain’s knock.

zzcrowe     Captain Martin Crowe led from the front with a century in the 1992 World Cup opener, helping New Zealand to a 37-run win (source – icc-cricket.com)

  Crowe found a willing partner in Ken Rutherford (57), and the duo added a game-changing 118 in 25 overs for the fourth wicket. Crowe reached his century in the last over, scoring an unbeaten 100 from 134 balls with 11 fours and enabling his side to post a decent total of 248/6 on a sluggish pitch. 

  David Boon and Geoff Marsh gave Australia a sound start by adding 62 for the opening wicket before the latter fell to Gavin Larsen (3/30). Boon held one end firmly even as wickets fell at regular intervals. Steve Waugh joined him at 125/5 and they together put on 74 for the sixth wicket, but Larsen again provided the breakthrough. Boon was seventh out for 100 (133 balls) as Australia lost five for 12 to be all out for 211 in 48.1 overs.

Quarterfinal, Chennai, 1996

  Australia triumphed in an entertaining contest on a Chennai pitch conducive to the batsmen. New Zealand captain Lee Germon elected to bat and saw his side slip to 44/3 against some disciplined bowling from the Australian pacers. The recalled Chris Harris came out to join Germon at this stage, and the two combined for a rapid 168-run stand at more than six an over.

  Germon fell for 89 from 96 balls, but Harris continued his charge until the penultimate over before getting out to Shane Warne for 130 from 124 balls, with 13 fours and four sixes. Faced with a total of 286/9, Australia lost their captain Mark Taylor early to off-spinner Dipak Patel, but Mark Waugh was in ominous form, having already scored two centuries in the tournament.

  The game looked even at 127/3, but a fourth-wicket stand of 86 between Mark and his twin Steve Waugh swung the momentum towards Australia. Mark Waugh fell for 110 (112 balls, 6×4, 2×6) with 74 runs needed. Steve Waugh (59* from 68 balls) and Stuart Law (42* from 30 balls) ensured there was no further opening for the Kiwis as they added an unbeaten 76 to guide Australia to 289/4 with 13 balls to spare.

Group Stage, Cardiff, 1999

  This was the first ODI to be played at Sophia Gardens. After Steve Waugh elected to bat, left-arm fast bowler Geoffrey Allott sent back the openers with only 32 on the board. Ricky Ponting (47) and Darren Lehmann (76) stitched together 94 runs for the third wicket, but the middle and lower order could not take advantage of it.

  Australia were eventually restricted to 213/8, with Allott claiming 4/37 in ten overs. New Zealand’s openers too fell cheaply, and when Glenn McGrath castled captain Stephen Fleming, the score read 47/3. Shane Warne soon after sent back Craig McMillan, and New Zealand were in real trouble at 49/4.

  This brought together Roger Twose and Chris Cairns. The duo played with composure and were undaunted by the task at hand. After beginning cautiously, they handled the Australian attack with ease, going on to add a match-winning 148 in 28 overs for the fifth wicket. Cairns scored 60 from 77 balls while Twose, who struck the winning boundary, scored 80* from 99. New Zealand reached 214/5 with 28 balls to spare.

zznz      New Zealand players celebrate the fall of an Australian wicket at Cardiff in the 1999 World Cup (source – cricbuzz.com)

Super Six, Port Elizabeth, 2003

  This match was highlighted by top bowling performances from two of the fastest bowlers in the tourney. Shane Bond destroyed the Australian batting after Stephen Fleming elected to field. He mopped up the top three to leave the score at 31/3 and later returned to take three more to have Australia in tatters at 84/7 in the 27th over.

  Bond finished with 6/23 in his ten overs. Once he was out of the way, Australia played with much more ease. Michael Bevan (56) and Andy Bichel (64) revived the innings with a crucial 97-run partnership for the eighth wicket. The 50 overs were eventually played out, with the final total reading 208/9.

  New Zealand slipped to 33/3 in reply and never looked like chasing the moderate total. Only Fleming, with 48, showed fight. Glenn McGrath (3/29) started off by taking three wickets, while Brett Lee, besides removing Fleming, nipped out the final four quickly to finish with 5/42 and help bowl out New Zealand for 112 in 30.1 overs.

Super Eight, St. George’s, 2007

  New Zealand had beaten Australia 3-0 in a three-match ODI series just before the World Cup, and were expected to be more than a match for the defending champions – who had been ruthless throughout the tournament – in this Super Eight match. However, it turned out to be a hugely one-sided affair as Australia swamped their opponents.

  After electing to bat, Australia were given a strong foundation thanks to a 137-run second-wicket alliance between Matthew Hayden and captain Ricky Ponting. Ponting score a 70-ball 66 while Hayden cracked a typical 103 from 100 balls. Further contributions from the middle order – Shane Watson pounded 65* off 32 balls – and 91 runs from the final ten overs swelled the total to 348/6.

  New Zealand slid to 29/2 but looked to be making a contest of it at 77/2 in 11 overs with Peter Fulton and Scott Styris in the middle. However, Styris’ dismissal sent the innings into a free-fall. The last eight wickets fell for only 56 runs as New Zealand were wrecked for 133 in just 25.5 overs. Only Fulton gave resistance, scoring 62 and being the last man out. Left-arm spinner Brad Hogg scalped 4/29.

Group Stage, Nagpur, 2011

  A quality pace bowling display helped Australia to score a comfortable win in this match, which was also played for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy. After New Zealand were inserted, the dangerous Brendon McCullum departed with the score on 20. From then on, Australia never lost their grip on the match.

  Shaun Tait (3/35) along with Mitchell Johnson (4/29) rattled the New Zealand batting to leave the score reeling at 73/6. Nathan McCullum (52) salvaged some pride by sharing stands of 48 (seventh wicket) and 54 (eighth wicket) with Jamie How and Daniel Vettori (44) respectively. In spite of these efforts, New Zealand folded for 206 in 45.1 overs.

  Australian openers Shane Watson (62 from 61 balls) and Brad Haddin (55 from 50 balls) effectively sealed the contest with a rampaging 133-run stand in just 18.1 overs. Hamish Bennett dismissed both of them in the space of three balls, but it was too late in the day. Michael Clarke and Cameron White completed the chase as Australia reached 207/3 with a full 16 overs remaining.

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Record Book – Rudi van Vuuren’s extraordinary feat

  With the Cricket World Cup underway and the Rugby World Cup set to begin later in the year, let us look back at the man who created history in 2003 by becoming the first – and till date only – athlete to represent his country at both cricket and rugby World Cups.

  Born in Windhoek in 1972, Dr. Rudolph ‘Rudi’ van Vuuren had the unique distinction of playing for Namibia in two World Cup tournaments in the same year.

  A physician by profession, right-armed van Vuuren opened the bowling with his medium pace, characterised by a round arm action, in five of Namibia’s six matches in the 2003 World Cup held in Africa. Eight months later, he participated in the rugby union World Cup in Australia, where he played as a fly-half in Namibia’s last group match.

  Namibia qualified for the cricket World Cup for the first time after finishing runners-up in the 2001 ICC Trophy. In their first World Cup match, they were beaten by Zimbabwe by 86 runs in a rain-hit affair at Harare. This was the only match that van Vuuren did not play.

  He duly made his ODI debut in the next game, against Pakistan at Kimberley. He ended with figures of 0/47 and later scored 14 from number eleven as Namibia were heavily defeated by 171 runs.

  Two days later, van Vuuren achieved the best ODI bowling figures by a Namibian. Up against England at Port Elizabeth, he gave his side the perfect start by removing Nick Knight and Michael Vaughan to reduce the opposition to 43/2 inside ten overs. Half-centuries from Marcus Trescothick and Alec Stewart put England back on track.

  The final over began with the score reading 262/7. Van Vuuren was entrusted to bowl it and though he conceded ten runs, he struck thrice to help his team bowl out England for 272. He dismissed Craig White, Ronnie Irani and Andy Caddick off the second, fourth and sixth ball respectively to finish with a return of 10-2-43-5 – one of the best ever World Cup performances by an Associate player.

  Namibia replied spiritedly and ended with 217/9. The honour of the Man of the Match however went to Jan-Berrie Burger, who gave England a scare with an attacking 85 from 86 balls while opening the innings.

Rudi van Vuuren of Namibia appeals for the wicket of Darren Lehmann of Australia        Rudi van Vuuren appeals during Namibia’s World Cup match against Australia at Potchefstroom in 2003 (source – therugbyplayer.co.uk)

  Namibia’s next opponents were India at Pietermartizburg. After being put into bat, the Indians posted a huge total of 311/2 in their 50 overs. Van Vuuren was easily the best and the most economical of the bowlers, finishing with 2/53 in ten overs.

  His scalps were the prized ones of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar. The latter smashed 152 and shared a 244-run stand with Sourav Ganguly (112*) for the second wicket. Namibia were bundled out for just 130 in reply.

  The match against Australia at Potchefstroom was a highly forgettable one for Namibia as well as van Vuuren. Australia piled up 301/8 after batting first, with Matthew Hayden scoring 88. Andrew Symonds and Darren Lehmann too scored fifties, with Lehmann amassing a then record 28 runs off van Vuuren in the last over of the innings.

  The burly all-rounder went 4,4,4,6,4,6 as van Vuuren ended with nightmarish figures of 10-0-92-0. Glenn McGrath (7/15) then destroyed the Namibians, who were shot out for 45 in just 14 overs to lose by a then record margin.

  Namibia gave a much improved display in their final match against Netherlands, losing by 64 runs after the Dutch had piled up 314/4. Van Vuuren, in what was to be his final ODI, finished with 1/63, snaring opener Edgar Schiferli. Namibia thus lost all their six matches and since then have never played in an official ODI match.

  Later in the year, the World Cup campaign of the Welwitschias, as the Namibian rugby team is known, was as poor as the cricket team’s performance. Clubbed in a tough group with hosts Australia, Ireland, Argentina and Romania, they lost all four matches, scoring 28 points and conceding a whopping 310. Their lowest point was a record 142-0 thrashing by Australia at Adelaide.

  Van Vuuren, who was also part of the 1999 World Cup squad, missed out on the first three games – against Argentina, Australia and Ireland – due to a leg injury. However, he ensured that he did not miss out on his place in history as he came on as a replacement in the 70th minute of Namibia’s last game against Romania at Launceston, which they lost 37-7.

  ”It’s been a fantastic year. There is nothing in life so rewarding as to walk onto the field and know you are playing against the best in the world. Cricket’s always been my second love, rugby is what I really prefer. I’m more of a natural rugby player than a cricket player.”, he said in an interview after the tournament ended.

“One day I can tell my grandchildren I took Sachin Tendulkar’s wicket and played rugby at the World Cup,” Van Vuuren had added. “Those are memories that I will never forget.”

  Van Vuuren, specialising in Aids cases, has been at the forefront of the battle against the dreaded disease in his country. He is also an obstetrician. Interestingly, between the two World Cups, van Vuuren helped deliver 70 babies in his clinic in Windhoek.

  As of today, besides his practice, he also runs a medical centre as well as a wildlife sanctuary along with his wife Marlice, who is a well-known conservationist. They are devoted to the causes of providing free treatment to locals and protecting and preserving various animal species.

VIEWPOINT – Time to get our World Cup back

  With the utterly callous decision of reducing the number of teams to just ten in the 2019 World Cup finalised, it is now or never for the Associate nations to show what they are capable of. It is time for them to give a performance so strong that it mortifies the ICC and sparks a public backlash against this appalling injustice.

  Never has the bias between full members and Associates been so blatant, as evidenced by ICC CEO David Richardson’s admission that ODI fixtures cannot be guaranteed to Ireland and Afghanistan to enable them to qualify for 2019. The cosy coterie of the ICC has repeatedly proved over the last year or so that they are the most extreme breed of hypocrites, and that there is no end to their rapacity once their selfish interests begin to develop.

  The myriad statements from Richardson, promising ‘development’ and ‘meritocracy’, makes one wonder whether this man – a former South African cricketer himself – is for real. It is quite clear that he is merely a stooge employed by the power brokers who keep finding new means to stifle and stagnate the growth of the game. The perplexing ways of those who purport to be custodians of the game are abhorrent and laughable at the same time.

  It is amid these uncertain times that four Associate nations will begin their 2015 World Cup campaign. Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates come into the tournament with their very future on the line for no fault of theirs. It is this quartet of teams that will carry the hopes and expectations of cricket lovers and players across the non-Test world.

  The sanguine Nepali kid who is looking forward to watch Sompal Kami blast batsmen out in a World Cup someday. The gritty Irish youngster who dreams of playing a Test match at Lord’s. The promising Nigerian amateur who strives to push his team higher up the ladder. The average cricket lover, who wants to see his favourite sport spread to every corner of the world. All of them will be fervently hoping for an unprecedented collective success of the Associate teams in the Antipodes.

zfgh   A young boy plays cricket in war-torn Afghanistan. Despite their remarkable rise, the Afghan team continues to get a raw deal from the ICC (source – afghan cricket board/twitter)

  For the next one month, the likes of Kevin O’Brien, Mohammed Nabi, Josh Davey and Khurram Khan will be their beacons of hope. Our beacons of hope. Any genuine well-wisher of the game anywhere in the world would have considered the acts of the ICC as deplorable.

  When you realise that the governing body of the sport you love is actually trying to prevent it from growing, you feel cheated and helpless. You want to put your point across but there is no one to listen. Because they only listen and gravitate to money and power.

  Had it possibly not been for Ireland’s historic win over England in the 2011 World Cup, the 2015 World Cup itself would have been shorn of Associate nations. This time around, there will be a similar motivation for all the four teams to give their best and serve a reminder to those who are destroying the soul of the game. The warm-up matches gave an indication that they are not here just to make up the numbers.

  While not much should be read into the warm-up results, Scotland and Ireland showed gumption in their performances. Scotland thumped the Irishmen easily, who in turn bounced back and saw off Bangladesh. Scotland also nearly chased down 313 against the West Indies, falling just three runs short. Afghanistan’s batsmen set out to bat 50 overs against India and achieved that goal. UAE themselves fell only 14 runs short against Afghanistan.

  It can be said with reasonable conviction that Ireland, Scotland and Afghanistan all stand a decent chance of entering the quarterfinals. The latter two are placed in Group A, where they can take advantage of an inconsistent Bangladesh, an off-colour Sri Lanka, and an unfancied England. 

  Ireland, who are in Group B, will consider each of the West Indies, India and Pakistan – three teams not going through the best of patches at the moment – as potential targets, besides Zimbabwe, who will be looking to cause a few upsets of their own. 

  Who does not like to watch the Associates in action? Asif Karim’s mesmerising spell against Australia in 2003, John Davison’s barnstorming hundred against the West Indies the same year, Dwayne Leverock’s mind-boggling catch against India in 2007, a pink-haired Kevin O’Brien’s celebratory roar against England in 2011… these are memories which warm our hearts and make our bond with the game deeper.

  Unfortunately, the powers-that-be are hell bent on depriving us of such moments in the future. Moreover, at a time when the Associates need an outpouring of support from established names in the game, we are greeted with pathetic statements from the likes of Ian Chappell, Sunil Gavaskar and VVS Laxman.

  These three former cricketers, who are greats in their own right, are so far away from reality despite having played the game at the highest level that they publicly criticised the very presence of the Associates in the World Cup recently. Just like Richardson, they have proven to be apologists. Gentlemen, you have let us down.

zzaw     Action from an ODI match between Ireland and Scotland in Dublin last year. Both teams can be expected to make an impact in the 2015 World Cup (source – cricketireland.ie)

  First, they are deprived of opportunities. Then they are treated shabbily and are told they are no good. They are ridiculed as ‘minnows’. And now they are being effectively told to keep themselves out from the only meaningful large-scale tournament they get to play in. Yes, this is how cricket treats its emerging nations.

  All of this reeks of insecurity on the part of most of the full members. Besides the obvious commercial factor, there is also the element of fear. England are scared of Ireland’s progress. India are scared of the competition from newer markets, so that their iron grip is not loosened. Bangladesh are scared of yet another defeat to a team ranked lower than them.

  The Associate action in the World Cup begins on February 16th when Ireland take on the West Indies in Nelson. This match could very well set the tone – it is Ireland’s best chance to beat a ‘top-eight’ nation, and a positive result here will not only strengthen their chances of proceeding to the knockouts, but also galvanise their fellow Associates to dream big and bring down reputations.

  It is time for cricket lovers the world over to get behind the Associates. We as fans are the biggest stakeholders of the game and we must let it be known that the World Cup is our tournament.

  And we would like to have a World Cup in its truest sense, not the travesty which has been so shamelessly approved by a few nincompoops hungry for short-term gains. We must realise that a whole new generation of cricketers from the world over will be lost to the game if this comes to pass.

  It is heartening to know that quite a few of the World Cup matches involving Associates have been sell-outs or near sell-outs. Let us come out in numbers, be it to root for the underdog in the stadium or voicing our opinions on various platforms. Let us do the best we can to create awareness among the larger cricket fraternity.

  Let us send a message to the pig-headed N. Srinivasan and his cronies that our voice and our words are more powerful than their bank balances. That our love for the game is worth many times more than their greed for the greenback. Let us all get behind the Associates this time, it doesn’t matter from where we belong. 

  Let us not be taken for a ride.

  Let us get our World Cup back.

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT – A few World Cup curiosities

   The cricket World Cup always brings its share of strange and unexpected occurrences that make the average cricket fan sit up and take notice. Here is a list of 20 curiosities that have lent to the history of cricket’s premier limited-overs tournament:-

1) Women one step ahead

  The inaugural cricket World Cup was held in England in 1975, contested by eight teams over fifteen days. However, technically this was not the first cricket World Cup – the inaugural women’s World Cup was played two years prior in 1973, also in England.

2) Sunny opts for batting practice

  The first World Cup match was played between England and India at Lord’s. Replying to England’s 334/4, India only managed to crawl to 132/3 in their 60 overs.

  The great opener Sunil Gavaskar decided that the huge target was way beyond his team’s reach, and blocked his way to 36 not out from 174 balls. With this, he killed the contest as well the crowd’s appetite – a disgruntled spectator dumped his lunch at Gavaskar’s feet!

3) Match after mismatch

  In a group match in 1975, the West Indies crushed Sri Lanka by nine wickets in a lop-sided encounter at Old Trafford. Sri Lanka were bundled out for just 86 and the entire match lasted just 58 overs. As the match finished very early, the two teams entertained the crowd with an exhibition match.

4) Six and out

  The first World Cup final between Australia and the West Indies at Lord’s on 21st June 1975 was a thrilling affair. In the West Indian innings, a highly unusual dismissal took place – Roy Fredericks hooked Dennis Lillee for a six, only to realise that he had tread on his stumps while hitting the shot, resulting in him getting out hit wicket.

5) Confusion reigns at Lord’s

  Again in the same match in the Australian innings, a crowd invasion happened. With 24 needed off 11 balls, Australia’s last wicket seemed to have fallen when Jeff Thomson was caught. The spectators rushed onto the field thinking the match was over, but they failed to notice the no-ball signal.

Lillee And Thomson    Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson tried to take advantage of the lost ball and kept on running even as the crowd stormed onto the field in the 1975 final (source – alloutcricket.com)

  The ball was lost in the melee and the Australian batsmen, Thomson and Dennis Lillee kept on running for eternity. According to Lillee, they ran 17, but were eventually given four. One of the invaders even made off with umpire Dickie Bird’s white hat!

6) The big cat refuses to pounce

  Replying to the West Indies’ formidable 286/9, England were given a solid start from openers Mike Brearley and Geoff Boycott in the 1979 final at Lord’s. However, they batted so slowly that they put the rest of the batsmen under pressure.

  In fact, when the score had reached 79/0, West Indian captain Clive Lloyd dropped Boycott on purpose, because he thought it would be in his team’s interests to prolong the slow scoring for as long as possible!

7) The epic that was struck out

  Indian captain Kapil Dev played one of the great World Cup innings when he scored an unbeaten 175 out of a team total of 266/8 against Zimbabwe at the quaint Tunbridge Wells ground in 1983. The feat is all the more remarkable considering that India were 9/4 when he came out to bat, and the match was a must-win for his team.

  Unfortunately, there is no video footage available of this brilliant innings – the BBC, broadcasters of the tournament, had gone on strike that very day.

8) Courtney, the courteous one

  The group match between Pakistan and the West Indies at Lahore in 1987 went right down to the wire. Pakistan’s target was 217 and they began the last over still needing 14 to win with just one wicket left. The equation boiled down to two off the last ball.

  As Courtney Walsh came on to bowl, non-striker Salim Jaffar was way out of crease. But Walsh showed great sportsman spirit and chose not to run him out. Pakistan ultimately won the match and Walsh was gifted a carpet by a Pakistani fan for his magnanimity.

9) Hudson gets stumped

  After South Africa beat the West Indies in their 1992 match at Christchurch, Andrew Hudson took the middle stump as a souvenir and began rushing to the pavilion in celebration. It was only when he reached the gate that he realised he had taken the stump housing the mini television camera and was trailing ten metres of cable behind him!

10) Mother Nature to the rescue

  Had it not been for divine intervention, Pakistan would never have won the 1992 World Cup. In a league match against England at Adelaide, Pakistan were bowled for just 74. England, faced with an easy target, were 24/1 in reply when rain stopped play.

  The match could not be resumed and the two teams shared a point each. In a way, it was this one point that helped Pakistan sneak into the semifinals and eventually win the title.

11) A cruel knockout punch

zsadp     The scoreboard at the Sydney Cricket Ground flashes the revised remaining target for South Africa to achieve in the 1992 semifinal (source – gettyimages)

  South Africa impressed greatly in their first World Cup in 1992, finishing third in the league stage and thus setting up a semifinal with England. However, the ridiculous rain rule ensured that they were knocked out a tad unfairly in the semifinal at Sydney.

  In a 45-over match, England scored 252/6. South Africa fought well and needed 22 off 13 balls – quite an achievable equation – when rain arrived. After the rule was implemented, the equation was revised first to 22 off 7 and then to an absurd 22 off one ball.

12) Odumbe earns bragging rights

  First-timers Kenya pulled off one of the biggest World Cup shocks when they beat the West Indies by 73 runs at Pune in 1996. Maurice Odumbe, Kenya’s captain in the match, later recalled:

  “I met (West Indian great Brian) Lara at a match in England several years ago before he was in the West Indies team and asked for his autograph. He said he didn’t have the time. When we beat them in the World Cup I went up to him and said: ‘A few years ago I asked for your autograph and you wouldn’t give it. Now I am saying you can have mine.'”

13) A disgrace at the Eden

  The 1996 semifinal between India and Sri Lanka remains the only World Cup match to be awarded to a team by default. Replying to Sri Lanka’s 251/8, India suffered a major collapse and were tottering at 120/8 in the 35th over.

  A section of the crowd, unable to digest their team’s slide to defeat, shamefully began to throw bottles on the field and set the stands on fire. Match referee Clive Lloyd declared that Sri Lanka were winners by default, as it was not safe to continue with the game.

14) An experiment that did not connect

  The 1999 group match between India and South Africa at Hove was hit by controversy when it was found during the Indian innings that South African captain Hansie Cronje was receiving instructions from his team’s coach Bob Woolmer, who was in the dressing room, by means of an earpiece. The matter was referred to the match referee, and Cronje was promptly asked to remove the device.

15) All is fair in love and sport

  Faced with a small target of 111 against the West Indies at Old Trafford in 1999, Australia’s batsmen raised a few eyebrows when they took more than 40 overs to achieve the victory.

  Later, it was revealed that Australia purposely adopted a go-slow tactic as they did not want the West Indies’ run rate to go down, thereby helping them to qualify ahead of New Zealand for the Super Six round. Australia had earlier lost a group match to New Zealand, which would have a bearing on Australia’s standing, as points against qualified teams were carried forward.

zwaughu    Australian captain Steve Waugh defended his team’s controversial go-slow tactics against the West Indies in 1999. Waugh himself scored 19* off 73 balls (source – espncricinfo.com)

16) Innocent birds bear the brunt

  Two pigeons were unfortunately killed on the field during the Super Six match between Australia and India at the Oval in 1999. The first pigeon died when Australia’s Paul Reiffel threw the ball towards the stumps from the boundary, striking the creature. Later, a second pigeon fell victim when Ajay Jadeja edged ball to the boundary, hitting it on the way.

17) The greatest choke ever

  Host nation South Africa were knocked out in the worst possible fashion from the 2003 World Cup. In a must-win group match against Sri Lanka at Durban, the Duckworth/Lewis method came into play with rain falling steadily late in the South African innings. South Africa’s revised target was 230 from 45 overs.

  In the 45th over, Mark Boucher hit a six off the fifth ball and pumped his fist, believing that the job was done. He blocked the last ball – which proved be to costly, as South Africa had miscalculated the target to be 229. The match was tied as the crowd watched their team’s exit in shock.

18) Leverock becomes a cult hero

  Bermudan policeman Dwayne Leverock, weighing at over 280 pounds, provided one of the most iconic World Cup moments when he took a catch at first slip off the bowling of 17 year-old Malachi Jones to dismiss India’s Robin Uthappa at Port-of-Spain in 2007.

  Leverock dived to the right to take a stunning one-handed catch, after which he took off on a celebratory run across the field even as Jones wept with joy. “He has flown like a gazelle…the earth shook! Oh what a catch!”, commentator David Lloyd exclaimed on air.

19)  Gilchrist squashes the Lankans

  Australian great Adam Gilchrist pounded the Sri Lankan attack with a whirlwind knock of 149 from 104 balls in the 2007 World Cup final at Bridgetown. This title-clinching innings was studded with 13 fours and eight sixes.

  The secret to his powerful hitting turned out to be a squash ball, which he placed in the glove of his bottom hand and credited it for giving him a better grip. Australia won the match easily by 53 runs on the D/L method.

20) Running it equal

  In a remarkable occurrence, the last two cricket World Cups have each recorded the same number of total runs scored – exactly 21333 runs were scored in the 2007 (51 matches) as well as the 2011 edition (49 matches).

RECORD BOOK – The worst starts to a World Cup innings

  Few things in ODI cricket are as catastrophic as a nightmarish start to the innings. Teams bank on their top order to lay a sound platform for the innings to prosper and flourish in the later stages. But when the top order itself is destroyed in a matter of few minutes, things can go horribly wrong. More often than not, the effect is felt on the batsmen to follow, who on finding themselves in the middle much sooner than they expected, fail to cope up with the situation at hand.

  A scoreboard on which the number of runs scored are less than the wickets lost makes for uneasy viewing for the batting side, and it can become all the more embarrassing when such a state of affairs is experienced in a World Cup match. In this post, we look at the three worst starts to an innings in the World Cup, taking into consideration the first three wickets to fall. Not surprisingly, in all three instances, the side suffering the unwanted start went on to lose the match.

0/3 – Pakistan against New Zealand, Edgbaston, 1983

  In a match played across two days because of rain, New Zealand prevailed over Pakistan by  52 runs. Pakistani leg-spinner Abdul Qadir bowled brilliantly to take four middle-order wickets and reduce New Zealand from 68/1 to 120/5, but some doughty batting by the lower order enabled the Kiwis to recover lost ground and eventually post a total of 238/9 off 60 overs on the second morning.

  In their previous game against Sri Lanka, Pakistan’s top three had scored a combined total of 200 runs. Three days later, the same three batsmen were brought down to earth by the formidable fast-bowling pair of Richard Hadlee and Lance Cairns. In the first over of Pakistan’s reply, it took Hadlee only three balls to get into the act as he trapped Mohsin Khan plumb in front to make it 0/1.

zhadlee        New Zealand’s Richard Hadlee took two wickets in the first over against Pakistan at Edgbaston in the 1983 World Cup (source – icc-cricket.com)

  Off the last ball of the same over, Hadlee accounted for his second victim in the form of the stylish Zaheer Abbas, who was clean bowled for his first duck in ODI cricket. Just one over into the innings, Pakistan had lost two accomplished batsmen without a run on the board. In the second over, Cairns rubbed it in by having Mudassar Nazar caught behind the wicket by Warren Lees.

  After eight balls, Pakistan’s score read a depressing 0/3. This was the first instance of such a score being recorded in an ODI match, and only the third in international cricket. Pakistan went on to slump to 60/6, and despite a fighting innings from Qadir down the order, were bowled out for 186 in 55.2 overs.

0/3 – Bangladesh against Sri Lanka, Pietermaritzburg, 2003

  The first international match played at Pietermaritzburg’s City Oval – known as one of the two first-class cricket grounds with a tree within the boundary line – provided the most sensational start ever to a World Cup match. This was the second match in the tournament for both teams – while Sri Lanka had begun on a positive note against New Zealand, Bangladesh, by contrast, displayed their ineptitude in a tame defeat to Canada.

  After Bangladesh lost the toss, their batsmen had the unenviable task of facing Sri Lanka’s finest pace bowler, the left-arm seamer Chaminda Vaas in the first over. Vaas had the penchant of reducing a team to rubble in the first few overs itself – in the last two years or so, his ODI feats included, among other things, taking five wickets to send India crashing to 54 all out and returning world-record figures of 8/19 against Zimbabwe.

  The first international over at the City Oval could not have been more eventful. History was made even before most of the 2000-strong crowd could settle themselves on the grass banks. The Bangladeshi top order hardly inspired confidence, especially after the team’s demoralising defeat to Canada, and hence were ripe for the picking. Openers Hannan Sarkar and Al Sahariar came out to bat in the hope of reviving their beleaguered team’s fortunes.

  But Vaas, despite a bit of soreness in his back, was in no mood to give an inch. Sarkar had himself to blame as he attempted an ugly-looking drive off the very first ball, which went on to rattle the off-stump. Teenaged Mohammed Ashraful – who scored a century on Test debut against the Sri Lankans in 2001 – was the next man in. He too lasted one ball as he popped a simple return catch. Panic was already beginning to creep in the Bangladeshi ranks as Vaas waited for his next prey, Ehsanul Haque.

  Vaas induced an outside edge from Haque who could not get past the safe hands of Mahela Jayawardene at second slip. 0.3 overs, 0/3. For the first time in an international match, three wickets had fallen off the first three balls. Vaas took off in celebration, but was not done yet. Off the fifth ball of the over, he trapped Sanwar Hossain leg before to make it 5/4. There has never been a more woeful start to an ODI innings.

zvaasy     Chaminda Vaas celebrates his hat-trick against Bangladesh in the 2003 World Cup. He took three wickets off the first three balls of the innings (source – getty images/yahoo.com)

  Vaas became the third bowler after Chetan Sharma and Saqlain Mushtaq to take a World Cup hat-trick. Despite losing four wickets in the first five balls, Bangladesh managed to take their innings into the 32nd over. They were bowled out for 124, with Vaas recording figures of 6/25, then the third best bowling analysis in the World Cup. The seasoned opening pair of Marvan Atapattu and captain Sanath Jayasuriya then knocked off the target in just 21.1 overs to ensure a thumping ten-wicket victory.

2/3 – Ireland against Australia, Bridgetown, 2007

  That Ireland had entered the Super Eight round was a fairytale in itself, hence there was no expectation whatsoever from them when they took the field against Ricky Ponting’s all-conquering Australians at the Kensington Oval. A tie against Zimbabwe followed by a stunning win over Pakistan in the group stage had made Ireland the flavour of the tournament, but as was expected, they found Australia a bit too hot to handle.

  The teams were greeted with a bouncy wicket with a bit of moisture, and hence Ponting had no hesitation in fielding first. Glenn McGrath started the proceedings and Ireland’s Sydney-born opener Jeremy Bray got off the mark straight away. William Porterfield too opened his account four balls later. ‘Pigeon’ however struck off the next ball, swinging in one to clip Bray’s off-stump.

  At the other end, the pace of Shaun Tait was creating problems for the Irish batsmen from the very outset. After two consecutive maidens, Tait claimed the second wicket, hitting the first ball of his second over straight onto Porterfield’s pads. The new batsman Niall O’Brien – hero of the win against Pakistan – was dismissed the very next ball, as he dragged a full toss onto his stumps to give Tait two in two.

  The score read three down with just two runs on the board, and the game was effectively decided in that period. Ireland were bundled out for 91 in 30 overs, a total which was chased down by Australia – the eventual title winners – in just 12.2 overs for the loss of one wicket, with Michael Hussey sealing the win and his team’s entry into the semfinals with a six off Boyd Rankin.

Watch Chaminda Vaas’ unique hat-trickhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HSppwrosbY

SPECIALS – The greatest World Cup matches, Part 2

  Continuing from Part 1 of this two-part post, let us look at five more great matches in the history of the World Cup that left many a viewer enthralled.

Australia v West Indies, Final, Lord’s, 1975

  The final of the inaugural World Cup was akin to a drama full of twists and turns. Respectively led by astute captains Ian Chappell and Clive Lloyd, Australia and the West Indies played out the best World Cup final thus far on the 21st of June, the longest day of the year. The two sides had already met once in the group stage, where the West Indies had posted an easy seven-wicket win.

  Chappell won the toss and sent the West Indians in to bat. With the score on 12, Roy Fredericks was dismissed in bizarre fashion – he hooked Dennis Lillee for six, only to lose his balance and tread on the stumps, thus getting out hit wicket. With Gordon Greenidge and Alvin Kallicharran too out cheaply, the West Indies were in a spot of bother at 50/3. At this stage, Lloyd strode out to join Rohan Kanhai – who was nearly 40 years old and playing his last international match.

  What followed was a game-changing partnership featuring contrasting innings. While Lloyd was in a ferocious mood, treating the Australian bowlers with disdain, Kanhai gave his captain solid support at the other end. The two put on 149 in 36 overs to put their team in control before Gary Gilmour – who had taken 6/14 in the semifinal against England – had Lloyd caught behind. The ‘Big Cat’ scored a fine 102 from just 85 balls, studded with 12 fours and two sixes.

  Kanhai too fell to Gilmour soon after, scoring 55 from 105 balls. Gilmour’s burst of three quick wickets brought Australia back in the contest, but Keith Boyce and Bernard Julien put on 52 vital runs for the seventh wicket. The West Indies stretched their total to a very formidable 291/8 in 60 overs – no team had successfully chased down that many in an ODI at that time. Gilmour with 5/48 was easily the best bowler for Australia, thus making him the highest wicket-taker of the tournament.

  Boyce removed Rick McCosker early in the chase, but Alan Turner (40) and skipper Ian Chappell (62) put on 56 for the second wicket, showing that the Australians were not going down without a fight. However, the West Indian fielders, led by 23 year-old Vivian Richards, were brilliant on this day. Richards single-handedly ran out Turner and Greg Chappell to make the score 115/3. Richards then combined with Lloyd to ensure the run out of Ian Chappell, who had himself to blame as he went for a non-existent third run.

zlloydd     West Indies captain Clive Lloyd holds aloft the inaugural World Cup trophy in 1975. He scored 102 in the final against Australia (source – cricket15.com)

  Lloyd castled Doug Walters as the Australians, who were now 170/5, failed to get a substantial partnership going. Boyce (4/50) returned to trouble the middle and lower order as Australia slid to 233/9 in 52 overs, and a West Indian victory now just a formality. A final twist remained though – the last pair of Thomson and Lillee gave some anxious moments to the West Indians. When eleven balls were remaining, with Australia still needing 24 to win, Thomson chipped a delivery from Vanburn Holder into Fredericks’ hands.

  The crowd, largely consisting of West Indian supporters, ran out on to the field thinking that the match was over. However, they had not noticed umpire Dickie Bird’s no-ball call. The ball got lost in the melee and the batsmen kept on collecting as many runs as they possibly could. According to Lillee, they had ran about 17, but eventually the umpires gave them four when the ground was cleared.

  Three balls later, the match saw its logical conclusion after Thomson was run out by the wicketkeeper Deryck Murray. Australia had valiantly fought, but were bowled out for 274 with eight balls left. The West Indies became the first winners of the World Cup as the longest one-day match played – from 11 a.m to 8.43 p.m – came to an end. Lloyd, who was deservedly named Man of the Match, received the Prudential trophy from Prince Phillip.

England v Ireland, Group Stage, Bangalore, 2011

  This Group B match in the 2011 edition will always be remembered for the fact that an Associate nation beat a full member by chasing down a total in excess of 300, and that too after being in dire straits at the halfway mark. The memorable win was made possible due to a buccaneering, record-breaking hundred from Irish all-rounder Kevin O’Brien, who became a poster boy for cricket back home.

  England, after electing to bat, were provided a strong platform by captain Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen (59), who put on 91 for the first wicket. Jonathan Trott (92) and Ian Bell (81) then shared a 167-run partnership in 26 overs for the third wicket to put their team firmly in control. Late wickets from John Mooney (4/72) pegged back England a little, but the final total of 327/8 was still an imposing one.

  Ireland lost their captain William Porterfield off the first ball of the chase. Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce played positively in a 62-run stand for the second wicket, but off-spinner Graeme Swann prised out three quick wickets as Ireland slumped from 103/2 to 111/5 in the space of four overs. If Ireland were to come back in the game, at least one batsman had to deliver something really special, and Kevin O’Brien did just that. He came in at 106/4, and was joined by Alex Cusack at the fall of the fifth wicket.

  With a breath-taking display of power-hitting, O’Brien snatched the game right from the hands of the English. He shared a fantastic sixth-wicket partnership of 162 in just 19.1 overs with Cusack. While Cusack was out for 47, O’Brien marched on to his hundred off just 50 balls, beating Matthew Hayden’s World Cup record. He added a further 44 for the seventh wicket with Mooney, and by the time he was out for a scintillating 113 from 63 balls, with 13 fours and six sixes, Ireland needed only 11 runs from as many balls.

  The final over began with just three runs required. Off the first ball itself, Mooney smashed James Anderson for four to bring up Ireland’s historic three-wicket win over the old enemy. The boys in green had done the unthinkable by achieving the the highest successful chase in a World Cup match.

  The Bangalore crowd celebrated an epic giant-slaying episode even as the Irish team congratulated each other with joy. O’Brien had played the innings of the tournament, and most importantly, provided a massive boost to cricket in his country.

zznom      Kevin O’Brien (left) celebrates Ireland’s famous win over England in 2011. He smashed a record 113 from only 63 balls (source – bbc.co.uk)

Ireland v Zimbabwe, Group Stage, Kingston, 2007

  This was Ireland’s very first World Cup match. Their team of amateurs greatly impressed on debut, holding a much more established and experienced Zimbabwean outfit to a thrilling tie. This was the third tie in the history of the World Cup.

  Zimbabwean captain Prosper Utseya put Ireland in to bat, and his medium pacemen created trouble for the Irish batsmen from the very outset. Five wickets were down with just 89 runs on the board, three of them being single figures. Even as wickets tumbled, opener Jeremy Bray remained unmoved. He was bating assuredly and found a willing partner in Andrew White, with whom he added 56 for the sixth wicket.

  This was the highest partnership for Ireland, who eventually reached a competitive 221/9 in 50 overs. The lower order added some vital runs to swell the total. Bray stayed from start to end, scoring an unbeaten 115 from 137 balls, with ten fours and two sixes.

  Zimbabwe were in a great position at 92/1 in the 21st over, but a middle order wobble saw them slide to 133/5. Opener Vusimuzi Sibanda scored 67 from 84 balls. Stuart Matsikenyeri and Brendan Taylor gave Zimbabwe the upper hand again as they stitched together 70 runs for the sixth wicket. When Taylor was run out, Zimbabwe needed only 19 runs from 38 balls with four wickets left, an easy equation.

  However, tight bowling and fielding from Ireland built the pressure on the Zimbabwean lower order. By the time the final over – to be bowled by White – began, Zimbabwe had lost three more wickets and now needed nine runs with one wicket remaining. Matsikenyeri, who scored an unbeaten 73, took five runs off the first three balls to bring the requirement to four off three.

  Three runs came from the next two balls and the scores were level with a ball to go. Matsikenyeri missed it and non-striker Ed Rainsford, who was already out of his crease, was run out. This result was to play a major factor in Ireland’s entry into the Super Eight round.

Pakistan v West Indies, Group Stage, Lahore, 1987

  This was the second World Cup match to end in a result margin of one wicket, and incidentally involving the same two teams which were part of the first. However, unlike that match in 1975, this time it was Pakistan who emerged victorious. They had Courtney Walsh’s commendable sportsman spirit to thank, without which they would not have won.

  After electing to bat, the West Indies got off to a good start with openers Desmond Haynes and Phil Simmons (50) putting on 91. However, penetrative bowling from captain Imran Khan (4/37) and Saleem Jaffar (3/30) triggered a collapse of four wickets for 30 runs. Imran’s opposite number Vivian Richards scored an attacking 51, but the rest of the batsmen failed to give him support. The innings folded for 216 in 49.3 overs, the last five wickets falling for 32 runs.

  Pakistan lost Mansoor Akhtar and Saleem Malik to be 28/2, following which Rameez Raja and Javed Miandad added 64 for the third wicket. Three quick wickets reduced the score to 110/5 in the 35th over, and the West Indies now held an edge. Wicketkeeper Saleem Yousuf came in at this point, and with the help of the lower order, set about in pursuit of the remaining target. He and Imran shared a sixth-wicket stand of 73 in eleven overs.

  As the tension grew, Yousuf kept on batting intelligently. He was the eighth wicket out with the score at 202 in the 48th over, making 56 from 49 balls with seven fours. When the last over from Walsh began, Pakistan still needed 14 runs with the last pair in the middle. With ten needed off three, Abdul Qadir struck a six followed by two.

  So two to win off the final delivery. Non-striker Jaffar was backing up too soon and Walsh was well within his right to run him out. But sportingly, he refrained from doing so and Qadir ultimately scored the two runs to seal Pakistan’s win.

India v England, Group Stage, Bangalore, 2011

zzcf     The scoreboard at the Chinnaswamy Stadium confirms the tied result in the group match between India and England in 2011 (source – ndtv.com)

  Rounding off this list is the fourth tied match in the World Cup, by far the highest-scoring one. On a typically flat Bangalore track, India elected to bat first. Virender Sehwag was out for a quick 35, but his opening partner Sachin Tendulkar – arguably the greatest ODI batsman – unleashed an array of glorious shots on the English bowlers.

  Tendulkar added 134 with Gautam Gambhir (51 from 61 balls) for the second wicket and a further 56 with Yuvraj Singh (58 from 50) for the third wicket. He was dismissed in the 39th over for a brilliant 120 from 115 balls, with ten fours and five sixes. India lost their last seven wickets for just 33 runs in 24 balls, as the innings drew to a close at 338 in 49.5 overs. Tim Bresnan was the only one who bowled well, taking 5/48 off his ten overs.

  Captain Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen gave England a good start by putting on 68 for the opening wicket. Strauss was batting wonderfully, and the Indian bowlers were clueless against his pristine stroke-making. He shared a partnership worth 170 in 26 overs with Ian Bell for the third wicket. Requiring 58 from 45 balls with as many as eight wickets left, England were on course to overhaul India’s huge total.

  However, Zaheer Khan removed both Bell (69 from 71 balls) and Strauss off consecutive deliveries to bring his side back in the match. Strauss, later named Man of the Match, scored a career-best of 158 from 145 balls, with 18 fours and a six. In the pursuit of quick runs, wickets began to tumble. As Munaf Patel began the final over, England needed 14 runs with two wickets in hand.

  With 11 needed off four, tail-ender Ajmal Shahzad clouted a six, much to the delight of his teammates. Patel maintained his composure though, and it boiled down to two needed off the final ball. Graeme Swann managed to hit it to mid-off, but could complete only a single, leaving the scores tied and the crowd highly satisfied.