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.

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