Specials – Recalling the best of the 2007 World Cup

  It has been ten years since the ninth edition of the Cricket World Cup, which began in the Caribbean on 13th March, 2007 and featured a record 16 teams.

  The tournament drew considerable flak from many quarters for its long-drawn format and overpriced tickets, not to mention the embarrassing gaffe by the umpires in the rain-reduced final between Australia and Sri Lanka.

  According to the critics, the shocking death of Pakistan’s coach Bob Woolmer and the early ousters of marquee teams such as India and Pakistan further dampened the tournament that was trumpeted to be the world’s biggest cricket carnival.

  However, the showpiece event saw plenty of eye-catching performances and fairytale moments that are still fresh in the memory even after a decade. For instance, Ireland’s remarkable giant-killing journey is now part of cricketing folklore, while Australia blitzed to their third successive title with a ruthless domination over every team they faced.

  Let us look back at the best from the saga that was the 2007 World Cup:

A rush of records

  A clutch of new World Cup records were created in the 2007 edition. India became the first team to surpass the 400-run barrier, scoring 413/5 against Bermuda; their 257-run win becoming the biggest victory margin.

  A record aggregate of 671 was gathered as well, in the group match between Australia and South Africa at Basseterre; in the same match, Matthew Hayden scored the fastest World Cup hundred, off 66 balls. All these records have since been broken.

Australia conquer one and all

  Never before had any team imposed their supremacy in a World Cup tournament in the manner Australia did in 2007. Gunning for a hat trick of titles, Ricky Ponting’s men won all eleven matches in thumping fashion to reaffirm their status as the undisputed kings of ODI cricket. 

  They reserved their most clinical display for New Zealand – the team that had whitewashed them 3-0 in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy in the lead-up to the tournament. The Black Caps were thrashed by a whopping 215 runs at St. George’s in the Super Eight stage as Australia provided a rude reminder that no one could hold a candle to them on the biggest stage of them all.

     Australia, who were undefeated throughout the tournament, won their third successive World Cup trophy (source – icc-cricket.com)

  Their inevitable march towards glory culminated with handsome wins over South Africa – who crashed to 27/5 after batting first – and Sri Lanka in the semi-final and final respectively.

Pluck of the Irish

  First-time participants Ireland, clubbed in a tough Group D, were the toast of the tournament as they won the hearts of all and sundry with their spunky campaign that produced two memorable wins and a tie against full member teams.

  Led by the spirited Trent Johnston, the Irish first held Zimbabwe to a nerve-shredding tie at Kingston to show that they were not going to be pushovers as the tournament progressed.

  Four days later – on St. Patrick’s Day, no less – at the same venue, Ireland astonished the cricket world by bowling 1992 champions Pakistan out for 132 and then winning by three wickets, thanks to Niall O’Brien’s superb 72. They went on to collect another scalp in the Super Eight round, in the form of Bangladesh, who were resoundingly beaten by 74 runs at Bridgetown.

Tigers come of age

  On the same day that Ireland knocked Pakistan out, Bangladesh put India on the brink of elimination with a famous five-wicket win at Port-of-Spain. Disciplined bowling from the Tigers ensured that the fancied Indian batsmen could manage no more than 191.

  This win was the ticket they needed to make it to the Super Eight, wherein they upset South Africa by 67 runs. After enduring a winless campaign in 2003, this was a much-needed boost for Bangladeshi cricket.

Pigeon flies off in style

  A couple of months before the World Cup, the great Glenn McGrath had a triumphant end to his Test career as Australia regained the Ashes with a 5-0 win at home.

  His ODI farewell was even sweeter, as he topped the bowling charts at the World Cup with a record tally of 26 wickets at a stunning average of 13.73, for which he was named Player of the Tournament. His penetrative bowling at the top proved that this Pigeon could fly high even at the age of 37.

      Playing in their first World Cup, unfancied Ireland conjured memorable wins over Pakistan and Bangladesh (source – icc-cricket.com)

Gilchrist squashes the Lankans

  Australian legend Adam Gilchrist pounded the Sri Lankan attack with a whirlwind 149 from 104 balls in the rain-hit final at Bridgetown. This title-clinching innings – the highest ever in a World Cup final – was studded with 13 fours and eight sixes, and knocked the wind out of the opposition, which was hoping for an encore of the 1996 summit clash when Australia were at the receiving end.

  Gilchrist’s assault carried Australia to a winning total of 281/4 in the allotted 38 overs. The secret to his powerful hitting turned out to be a squash ball, which he had placed in the glove of his bottom hand and credited it for giving him a better grip.

  It was an unusual tactic to employ, but certainly not illegal. With this win by 53 runs on the D/L method, Australia stretched their unbeaten streak in the World Cup to 30 matches, dating back to 1999.

That catch by Dwayne Leverock

  Bermudan policeman Dwayne Leverock, weighing in 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 in a Group B match at Port-of-Spain.

  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!”, exclaimed commentator David Lloyd on air.

  Though India had the last laugh, smashing 413/5, then the highest World Cup total , en route a 257-run victory, Leverock made sure that he attained cult status with his gravity-defying exhibition of athleticism.

Gibbs goes hammer and tongs

  Exciting South African stroke-maker Herschelle Gibbs became the first man to hit six sixes in an over in international cricket, when he achieved the rare feat against the Netherlands in a Group A match at Basseterre. The unfortunate bowler to suffer this onslaught was leg-spinner Daan van Bunge, who returned forgettable figures of 4-0-56-0 as South Africa romped home by 221 runs.

       South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs became the first man to hit six sixes in an over in international cricket, achieving the feat against the Netherlands (source – rediff.com)

  In what was a rain-reduced 40-over affair, the Proteas were warming up nicely at 178/2 when the historic 30th over began. The first one went over long-on, the next two were smote over long-off, the fourth slogged over deep mid-wicket, the fifth swatted over wide long-off and finally another over deep mid-wicket. Gibbs scored 72 from just 40 balls as South Africa piled up 353/3.

‘Slinga’ Malinga creates history

  Sri Lanka’s curly-haired speedster Lasith Malinga, renowned for his slingshot action, became the first man to capture four wickets in four balls in any form of international cricket during his side’s Super Eight clash with South Africa at Providence.

  Needing 210 for victory, South Africa seemed home and dry at 206/5 when Malinga dismissed Shaun Pollock (bowled) Andrew Hall (caught at cover) off the last two balls of the 45th over. He returned in the 47th over and duly removed the well-settled Jacques Kallis (caught behind) for 86 and Makhaya Ntini (bowled) off the first two balls to reduce the score to 207/9.

  Nevertheless, South Africa eventually scampered home by one wicket, Malinga’s 4/54 going in vain. His was the fifth instance of World Cup hat-trick, and in 2011, he became the first bowler to take two World Cup hat-tricks.

Swansongs galore

  As aforementioned, Glenn McGrath had the perfect send-off from international cricket, but other illustrious names were not as lucky. Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq bid a tearful farewell to ODI cricket, bowing out from what was a nightmarish tourney for his team in the last group game against Zimbabwe.

  West Indian captain Brian Lara too quit international cricket, after his team failed to meet the expectations of the home crowd. Yet another captain to retire from ODI cricket following the World Cup was England’s Michael Vaughan, while New Zealand’s Stephen Fleming gave up the captaincy after ten years at the helm.

  Furthermore, Greg Chappell and Duncan Fletcher, respective coaches of India and England, resigned from their posts. Victorious Australian coach John Buchanan also called time on a highly successful eight-year tenure.


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 – India smash the highest World Cup total

  The 2007 World Cup in the West Indies was a highly forgettable one for the Indian cricket team. Having finished as runners-up in 2003, expectations were high four years later for the Men in Blue to go one step further. However, the Rahul Dravid-led outfit lost two out of its three games (to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) in the group stage and bowed out of the tournament within two weeks, crushing the dreams of a billion fans.

  India’s solitary victory came at Port-of-Spain against Bermuda on 19th March, 2007, sandwiched between an upset five-wicket defeat to Bangladesh and a depressing 69-run defeat to Sri Lanka, which was the knockout blow. The Bermudans were playing their first ever World Cup, and their utter inexperience was exposed in their first game against Sri Lanka where they were shot out for 78 en-route to a 243-run thrashing. After the defeat to Bangladesh, India had to win both its remaining games, and this game against Bermuda presented the batsmen – who folded for 191 all out against Bangladesh – with a good opportunity to find some form ahead of the crucial last match.

  Bermuda captain Irving Romaine invited India to bat after winning the toss. Off the first ball of the second over, 17 year-old all-rounder Malachi Jones had a dream moment. He struck with his very first ball in the World Cup, removing Robin Uthappa courtesy a stunning catch by Dwayne Leverock in the slips. This dismissal, which sparked frenzied celebrations from the Bermudans, has gone on to become one of the most famous World Cup catches- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGuPP8vLlTc. But this was to be a false dawn for Bermuda, as they then ran into Virender Sehwag, who proceeded to clobber their amateur bowlers. Sehwag shared a rollicking 202-run partnership in a little over 28 overs with Sourav Ganguly for the second wicket before getting out for 114 off 87 balls (17 fours, 3 sixes).

zrety      Virender Sehwag (left) and Sourav Ganguly made merry against lightweights Bermuda in 2007 with a double-century stand that guided India to a record total (source – reuters.com)

  Ganguly (89 off 114 balls) and M.S Dhoni both perished in the next ten overs, but that brought Yuvraj Singh and Sachin Tendulkar (batting at number six) at the crease, the score reading 269/4 in the 39th over. The two unleashed mayhem and rendered all the bowlers and fielders helpless. Yuvraj’s super-charged innings of 83 off 46 balls (3 fours, 7 sixes) made look Sehwag’s century sedate in nature. The fifth-wicket stand fetched 122 in a mere 10.2 overs. Tendulkar too joined in the party, smashing an unbeaten 57 from 29 balls as India piled up a huge 413/5 – the highest ever team total in the World Cup, eclipsing Sri Lanka’s 398/5 against Kenya at Kandy in the 1996 edition. The modest crowd at the Queens Park Oval was treated to 18 sixes – which equalled the then ODI record set by South Africa against the Netherlands just three days earlier.

  The numbers in the two halves of the first innings bear quite a contrast. The first 25 overs saw a solid 153 runs being scored, while a whopping 260 were added in the latter half. Every batsman besides Uthappa had at least one six to their name, as India looked hell-bent to show their fans that they were very much alive in the tournament. Jones and Leverock, the two contributors of the first wicket, were hammered for 1/74 in seven overs and 1/96 in ten overs respectively. Only Kevin Hurdle (1/53 off ten overs) and Delyone Borden (2/30 off five) bowled with any control. After the debacle against Sri Lanka, an even bigger defeat loomed large for the Bermudans, and so it happened.

  That Bermuda managed to get to an eventual total of 156 in 43.1 overs was only due to David Hemp’s 76. Hemp, with the experience of playing for Glamorgan, faced 105 balls and remained unbeaten as his team-mates capitulated around him. Ajit Agarkar and Anil Kumble both took 3/38. The final margin of victory was 257 runs – a new ODI record at that time and still a World Cup record. It obliterated the previous World Cup record of Australia’s 256-run victory over Namibia at Potchefstroom in 2003 by just one run.  The ODI record as of today is the 290-run margin inflicted by New Zealand against Ireland at Aberdeen in 2008.

  Besides being the only World Cup total of over 400, this was also India’s first 400-plus total in all ODI’s. Since then, they have scored more than 400 twice, with their highest being 418/5 against the West Indies at Indore in 2011-12. India’s previous highest total in the World Cup was 373/6 against Sri Lanka at Taunton in 1999, while their previous biggest ODI victory was by 200 runs against Bangladesh at Dhaka in 2003.

  Of course, little had to be read into India’s record win as the do-or-die last group match against Sri Lanka beckoned, but it did fill the Indian fans with optimism of a turn-around and of sealing a spot in the next round. However, the Indian batsmen caved in for the second time in three matches, this time to Muttiah Muralitharan and Co, as the 1983 champions fell short of Sri Lanka’s 254/6 by 69 runs. Sehwag’s century against Bermuda was an aberration in a string of poor scores and he found himself out of the team a few months later.

  It was a short and strange World Cup for India. Two defeats, in which they were bowled out for 191 and 185 ensured their ouster from the tournament. But in between, they racked up a record total which ultimately counted for little.

Match Scorecard http://www.espncricinfo.com/wc2007/engine/current/match/247468.html