The World Cup Classics: 11 matches to remember

Clive Llyod's masterful innings in 1975, Australia's stunning win over South Africa in 1999, India's World Cup wins in 193 and 2011 — some matches always remain fresh in one's memory. We list the most cherished matches — one from each edition of the World Cup.

Clive Lloyd scored 102 off 85 balls with 12 fours and two sixes duirng the match between Australia and West Indies in the Prudential Cricket World Cup 1975 held at Lord's, London on June 21, 1975.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

1975 world cup  West Indies vs Australia, FINAL 

The Prudential Cup final was all that anyone could have hoped for it. The sun shone; Clive Lloyd played an innings of surpassing skill and power; Australia resisted down to the last; and the crowd, not only its West Indian contingent, was exultant.

West Indies skipper Lloyd struck a masterful 100 off 82 balls, hitting the ball mightily and at will. Rohan Kanhai's patient half-century helped by Keith Boyce, Bernard Julien and Deryck Murray powered the team to 291.  Ian Chappell gave Australia the foundation of a win. Chappell was at his capable and belligerent best during his 93-ball 62 but he and two others ran into a marauding Viv Richards, who thwarted Australia's surge with his electrifying fielding. 

Richards was responsible for all: he threw down the stumps of Alan Turner from mid-wicket to break the second-wicket stand at 81; of Greg Chappell, after the brothers had put on 34 with mounting certainty; and returned for Lloyd to put out Ian Chappell and end his brisk partnership of 47 with Doug Walters.  Australia eventually folded for 274, and with it, West Indies was crowned the World Champion. 

READ: Three World Cuppers reminisce about their experience at cricket's biggest stage

1979 World Cup England vs Pakistan

Mike Hendrick produced a game-changing spell of 4-9 to help England win by 14 runs against Pakistan during the 1979 World Cup.   -  Getty Images

  England and Pakistan produced the competition’s most thrilling contest — a low scoring match at Headingley where 316 runs were scored in 116 overs, dotted with the fall of 19 wickets!

Both teams came into the match armed with two successive victories.  When Pakistan restricted England to 165 for nine, not many gave the host a chanceof containing the formidable batting line-up of the rival.

Pakistan openers Majid Khanand Sadiq Mohammad put on 27 runs before England turned the match on its head with Mike Hendrick producing a game-changing spell. He took four wickets for nine runs, ably supported by Ian Botham, who took two to reduce Pakistan to 36 for six!

It was Hendrick’s swing that swung the match England’s way. He sent back Majid, Sadiq, Mudassar Nazar and Haroon Rashid in the space of eight deliveries for just three runs.Though Asif Iqbal brought Pakistan back with a splendid half-century and Imran Khan promised to take the team past the finish line, Hendrick was not done yet. He took a splendid catch to dismiss last-man Sikandar Bakht to give England a 14-run victory. 

 

1983 world cup West Indies vs India, FINAL 

That memorable June day in 1983 when India won the Prudential Cup under skipper Kapil Dev.   -  Getty Images

 

When eight teams, including Sri Lanka, which was given full membership of the ICC in July 1981, and Zimbabwe, which gained independence in 1980 and qualified from the ICC Trophy competition, arrived for the quadrennial event in England, the West Indies was still the firm favourite to retain the Prudential Trophy. 

But having beaten the West Indies at Berbice two-and-a-half months before the competition, Team India, led by charismatic all-rounder Kapil Dev, was the dark horse. And the cricketing world was taken by surprise, when on the fateful day of June 25, 1983, India trumped the mighty Windies by 43 runs to clinch its maiden title. 

READ | The 1983 World Cup win in Kapil Dev's words

Chasing a modest 184 to win, the Clive-Lloyd-led side folded for 140 thanks largely to a combined bowling effort from the Indian bowlers. Madan Lal and Mohinder Amarnath took three wickets apiece and were ably supported by Balwinder Sandhu who grabbed two to conjure a miracle at Lord's. 

 

1987 World Cup West Indies vs England 

England was wobbling at 162 for 7 in a 244-run chase. Allan Lamb, the No. 5 batsman, scored 68-ball 67 to help register a famous win over West Indies.   -  Getty Images

 

Lamb’s leg leaves England Limp,” quipped The Guardian when Allan Lamb’s injury had hindered his side. That the South African native was crucial to his adopted country’s cause became evident in the 1987 Reliance Cup. 

Against West Indies’ 243 for seven, England wobbled at 162 for 7. Like a seasoned general attuned to the carnage of battle, the No. 5 batsman took charge, with the tail-enders for company.  The victory was 82 runs away but the Caribbean quicks came in for slaughter.

Five boundaries and a six adorned his 68-ball 67. Secure on his shoulders, England sneaked home with three balls to spare. “I had been in such situations before so I was fairly confident that we could get the runs as long as I remained at the crease,” reminisced Lamb later. 

 

1992 World Cup Australia vs England

After effecting an Australian collapse with a spell of four for 31, Ian Botham scored 53 as an opener to help England register an easy win.   -  Getty Images

An Australia-England clash gets the adrenalin going among the players and fans alike. When someone like Ian Botham, one of the greatest all-rounders of the game, is in the England ranks, sparks can be expected to fly. 

In the course of a daylight bowling effort at the SCG in 1992, Botham changed the drift of the match in a jiffy, removing Allan Border, Ian Healy, Peter Taylor and Craig McDermott in seven balls without conceding a run as Australia collapsed from 145 for four to 155 for eight, ultimately scoring 171. Botham’s final figures were four for 31. 

READ | The 1992 World Cup in numbers

And, then, under the lights, he made 53 with six boundary blows, opening the innings with Graham Gooch and making things easy for England with a rousing 107-run opening stand. There was no challenge for the Man of the Match award this time: It went to Ian Terence Botham. 

 

1996 World Cup India vs Sri Lanka

Sanath Jayasuriya decimated the Indian attack for a 76-ball 79 to help Sri Lanka successfully complete a mammoth chase of 272 (in 1996!).   -  V.V. Krishnan

 

India set Sri Lanka a formidable target. Back in 1996, chasing 272 to win was a monumental task. But when a team has a player of the calibre of Sanath Jayasuriya in its ranks, it can still be achieved. Indian ace Sachin Tendulkar was in imperious form that day(March 2), hammering a run-a-ball 137 (8 fours and 5 sixes). However, there was hardly any indication of the storm that was to blow the Indians away that afternoon at the Kotla.

Jayasuriya strode to the middle with Romesh Kaluwitharana as his partner and took charge of the match in no time. He mocked the Indian attack with a flurry of strokes that held the spectators in a trance. It was simply amazing, as Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana plundered 53 runs off the first five overs, and the bowler to suffer was Manoj Prabhakar.

Bowling on his home turf, Prabhakar went for 11 runs in his first over and 22 in the second. It was an embarrassing moment for Prabhakar, but one of the finest for Jayasuriya. The Sri Lankan decimated the Indian attack in a performance that won the match for his team with plenty to spare. 

 

1999 World Cup South Africa vs Australia, Semifinal

South Africa needed one run off four balls, but it was Australia which ended up victorious in the semifinal of the 1999 World Cup.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

 

South Africa was nine runs away from eliminating Australia in the last over with Lance Klusener and the last man Allan Donald at the crease. The task became a simple one run to win off four balls after Klusener clubbed Damien Fleming for successive fours.

Australia was on the verge of being knocked out and none would have grudged South Africa the splendid victory. But it was not to be.

Klusener took off for the winning run, but Allan Donald responded late and was run out. It was an unforgettable moment in the history of the World Cup with Australia snatching victory from a hopeless situation!

Inspired by this win, Australia reduced the final against Pakistan to a one-sided encounter and won the title at Lord’s by eight wickets with 179 balls to spare.

 

2003 World Cup India vs Pakistan

Sachin Tendulkar scored a memorable 98 against Pakistan during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.   -  AFP

 

A sell-out crowd at the Centurion — almost all of them waving the Tricolour — witnessed one of the most powerful batting displays in the competition when Sachin Tendulkar set about the task of overhauling Pakistan’s 273.

The champion batsman dropped earlier in the innings, went after Pakistan seam attack of Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Abdul Razzaq. He cut fiercely, pulled with as much intensity and drove in front of the wicket to deal a psychological blow to the Pakistan players.

Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly fell early, but Tendulkar sustained his powerful hitting before falling two runs short of a century. Later, Mohammed Kaif, Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh gathered runs at their own pace to ensure a great win for India.

 

2007 World Cup Australia vs Sri Lanka, Final

The Australian team celebrates winning the 2007 Cricket World Cup.   -  Getty Images

 

In one of the most embarrassing exhibitions of ineptitude, four of the ICC’s highly experienced officials showed a lack of understanding of the rules in the final, turning what was supposed to be the showpiece of the cricket calendar into a giant farce.

In a rain-hit game reduced to 38 overs a side, Sri Lanka was 206 for seven in 33 overs when bad light stopped play.

It was obvious to everyone bar the three umpires — Aleem Dar, Steve Bucknor and Rudi Koertzen (TV) — and the match referee Jeff Crowe that the game was over.

Australia started celebrating, aware that 20 overs were enough to complete a game under the D/L method, only to be interrupted and told that three more overs had to be played.

“I thought Aleem was having a bit of a joke with us when he said it looks like we’d have to come back tomorrow and play three overs. I said: ‘Mate, we’ve played the 20 overs, we’ve actually finished the game’,” Ricky Ponting said later. “If the umpires don’t know, I don’t know.”

Mahela Jayawardena was noble enough to send out his batsmen in pitch darkness to go through with the charade so that the teams wouldn’t have to return the next day. Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds went through the motions, while Sri Lanka’s batsmen patted the ball back.

“Obviously our understanding was that once we complete 20 overs under D/L, it’s a completed game,” he said later.

“With 70 runs to get off 20 balls, and with Glenn McGrath and Shaun Tait bowling in that light, our guys wouldn’t have seen anything, we just wanted to finish the game. At that point, it was a goodwill gesture. Australia deserved to win because of the way they played today, simple as that,” said the Sri Lankan skipper.

 

2011 World Cup India vs Sri Lanka, Final

Yuvraj Singh and M.S. Dhoni celebrate the end of India's 28-year-old wait for World Cup success at Wankhede on April 2, 2011.   -  Getty Images

 

Mahela Jayawardene lit up the World Cup final with a century (103 not out) of rare radiance, enabling Sri Lanka to score 274 for six in 50 overs. But Gautam Gambhir responded with an innings of 97 that was just as masterful.

Captain M.S. Dhoni (91 not out) summoned his best under pressure and hit the winning runs — a six — to gift India and the great Sachin Tendulkar the World Cup.

Twenty-eight years after Indian cricket changed forever on an English summer's day, the country's dream of enhancing its reputation as a major force in the world game found glorious realisation at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on April 2, 2011.

2015 World Cup New Zealand vs South Africa, Semifinal

The triumphant march: New Zealand’s Grant Elliott walks back with head held high after helping his team script a dramatic win over South Africa during the 2015 Cricket World Cup semifinal in Auckland.   -  AP

 

Sometimes, in fact, more often than not, things fall into place by design.

Grant Elliott was so good on that fateful night in Auckland that with the brandishing of the willow, he sent a rapturous Eden Park into delirium while simultaneously sending the South African players and supporters into what, at the time, looked like a bottomless pit of despair.

With five needed off two balls, Dale Steyn banged a back of a length delivery and Elliott lifted it over wide long-on to power New Zealand to its maiden World Cup final even as South Africa was left to rue another defeat in the closing stages of a marquee event.

Elliott, with arms aloft, let out a roar that seamlessly diffused into the 45, 000 fans screaming themselves hoarse to victory. The shot meant a lot more to them than just qualifying; it exorcised the ghosts of 1992 World Cup when the Kiwis had stumbled in the semifinals, going down to eventual champion Pakistan.