Key matches

K. KEERTHIVASAN

It was a deadly spell from Zimbabwean Peter Rawson, who picked up three early wickets, which saw India struggling at 17 for five at Tunbridge Wells. Then Kapil Dev played that scintillating knock to steer India to safety.-ALL SPORT

India v Zimbabwe, June 18, Tunbridge Wells.

WITH a splendid unbeaten knock of 175 against Zimbabwe in the group match, Kapil Dev Nikhanj created a couple of records. The Indian captain became the highest scorer, overcoming Glenn Turner's 171 against East Africa in the 1975 World Cup. Kapil, in an unbroken partnership with Syed Kirmani, put on 126 runs for the ninth wicket, erasing the earlier record of 60 between Abid Ali and S. Venkataraghavan in the 1975 World Cup.

But what stood out more than the records and the 32-run victory for India was the batting prowess of Kapil, who changed the course of the match almost single-handedly. Electing to bat first on a soft wicket, which was a debatable decision, India found itself on the mat at nine for four, with medium-pacer Peter Rawson picking up three wickets. Sunil Gavaskar, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Mohinder Amarnath and Sandeep Patel were all cooling their heels in the pavilion.

Entering the field in the 10th over, the resurrection job was left to the captain. Kapil was expected to do the `miracle' — guide the team to safety. In the end, he did more than his share. Initially, he survived the dangerous spell of Rawson, who extracted some pace and movement, and then launched onto his trademark offensive shots.

With all the top-ranking batsmen showing no application to stay there and graft runs, it seemed that Kapil would run out of partners sooner than later. But the tail, for a change, did bite, which primarily enabled India to post the target of 266 for eight. Roger Binny played with purpose, displaying sound temperament. Under Kapil's guidance, Binny prospered, making a vital 22. Madan Lal, coming in after the dismissal of Binny, who was adjudged leg before wicket to Traicos, and Kirmani, knew that their job was to stay put and give Kapil more strike. That was the support Kapil required as he went on to play some lofted drives through long on and mid-wicket off Rawson and Fletcher. He continued to cut loose, clouting Curran and Traicos in the slog overs to all parts of the ground to remain undefeated on 175, and guide India to 266 for eight.

Australian skipper Kim Hughes dispatches Winston Davis to the fence at Leeds. Davis, who had Hughes caught behind to claim his first victim in the World Cup, finished with a career best seven for 51.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

Balwinder Sandhu took the new ball instead of Kapil, and Zimbabwe pounced on the opportunity, as opener G. A. Paterson struck four fine boundaries. Zimbabwe raced to 44 runs in 11 overs but soon slid to 86 for three by tea and 113 for five shortly afterwards. The Indians were held up by a stubborn 55-run stand between Kevin Curran and Ian Butchart that delayed the inevitable. The departure of Butchart (18) sounded the death knell for Zimbabwe. Curran top-scored with 73. When `Man of the Match' Kapil removed the last man Traicos, caught off his own bowling, the Indians had pulled off a memorable victory, thanks to the pyrotechnics of skipper Kapil Dev Nikhanj, who set the standards in both batting and bowling (11-0-32-1).

West Indies v Australia, June 12, Leeds.

Seldom does a World Cup debut turn out to be a memorable outing as it did for Winston Davis on a Sunday at Leeds. Replacing an injured Malcolm Marshall, Davis produced his best bowling performance ever (seven for 51) as West Indies crushed Australia by 101 runs in a group match. Incidentally, Australian Gary Gilmour who scalped six victims in the 1975 World Cup against England held the previous record for the best bowling display.

Chasing a total of 252 for nine, Australia crumbled under the medium pace of Davis. Aged 24, Davis took six for 14 in his last 33 balls after Australia had looked comfortably placed at 114 for two.

Davis claimed his first victim when Australian captain Kim Hughes was caught behind for 18 with the score on 55. But before that opener Graeme Wood had to be carried off the field on a stretcher after being struck on the face by Michael Holding.

David Hookes (45) and Graham Yallop added 59 runs in eight overs for the fourth wicket that gave Australia some hope. But that was before Davis started his dream spell. The collapse began in Davis's sixth over. Yallop was caught off a top edge for 29 and five balls later Hookes, who was in fine touch, was caught behind by Dujon.

Graeme Wood lies on the ground writhing in pain after being struck on the face by Michael Holding.-ALL SPORT

Ken Macleay and Rodney Marsh soon departed. Davis then took charge again dismissing Allan Border, Geoff Lawson and Dennis Lillee in quick succession. The Aussies were all out for 151 in 30.3 overs.

Australia v Zimbabwe, Trent Bridge, Nottingham, June 9.

Individuals cannot bring glory to a team, only a combined effort can. The rudimentary cricketing lessons were taught by Zimbabwe to favourite Australia. Excellent fielding backed by all-round contributions enabled the minnows of the cricketing world to do a Houdini act, defeating Australia by 13 runs.

Put in to bat, Zimbabwe made a modest 239 for six in 60 overs. Skipper A. G. Fletcher top-scored with a strokeful unbeaten 69. Starting well, the Zimbabwean openers, Ali Shah and Paterson, added 56 runs for the first wicket. Dennis Lillee's two wickets in two balls turned the contest dramatically. Jacob Heron and Andrew Pycroft could add just three runs for the third wicket, and soon Zimbabwe found itself at a scary 94 for five in 33.3 overs at lunch.

Zimbabwe captain Duncan Fletcher in action against West Indies. Fletcher top-scored with an unbeaten 69 against Australia at Nottingham, which helped his team upset the formidable opponent.-ALL SPORT

Fletcher stemmed in the rot and increased the rate of scoring. Fletcher and Butchart (34) remained unbeaten and added 74 runs before the innings came to an end. The Australians put less than 100 per cent effort on the fielding that resulted in as many as five catches being dropped.

When the Aussies began their run chase, openers Kepler Wessels and Graeme Wood, as anticipated, started well and added 61 runs. Moreover, the team's strong batting line-up was widely expected to close the contest in no time. Fletcher, bowling his off-spin, struck gold as he scalped Wood, Hughes, Hookes and Yallop, and the Australians were under pressure. At the other end, a shrewd off-spinner John Traicos bowled a nagging line and length to finish with an impressive spell (12-2-27-0).

Kepler Wessels anchored the innings well and had the responsibility to guide the team out of trouble. Once he was run out for 76, the Zimbabweans believed the match was within their grasp. All-rounder Kevin Curran then dismissed Allan Border to put the Aussies in deeper trouble.

Rodney Marsh, a plucky wicket-keeper batsman, fought hard and cracked an unbeaten 50, but too much had to be scored in too little a time and the Australians finished with 226 for seven, in the allotted 60 overs.

Vivian Richards punishes Madan Lal on way to his hundred against India at the Oval.-ALL SPORT

The victory, no doubt, was once in a lifetime achievement for the Zimbabweans, mostly consisting of part-time cricketers. And to have beaten a giant like Australia was nothing short of magic.

India v West Indies, June 15, Oval.

A pleasant Wednesday was made more enjoyable by a genius, who took centrestage to deliver the goods for his team. Following a shock defeat to India in the first group match, holder West Indies came back strongly to subdue the former by 66 runs. The genius in question was none other than Vivian Richards, who was under pressure for having scored just 40 runs from three innings.

Richards' workmanlike century (119) provided West Indies the necessary fillip to make an imposing 282 for nine. His match-winning knock overshadowed the doughty display of Dilip Vengsarkar and Mohinder Amarnath later on. Vengsarkar was admitted to the hospital after getting one on the jaw from Malcolm Marshall.

India's Dilip Vengsarkar is hit on the jaw by a Malcolm Marshall bouncer. Vengsarkar took no further part in the World Cup after the injury.-ALL SPORT

Captain Clive Lloyd won the toss and decided not to give his pace bowlers the first use of the pitch. Batting was the best option, he thought. When Gordon Greenidge got out to an outswinger from Kapil Dev, edging it to Vengsarkar in the first slip, Richards entered. He signalled his arrival to form by stepping out to Balwinder Sandhu and followed it up with a drive to the mid-wicket off his legs. His partner Haynes (38) played the supporting role quite well, but many a times he found it difficult to get singles and rotate the strike. Richards, on the other hand, played with distinction. Haynes's share of the 101-run partnership was 32, while Richards contributed 59.

The master blaster, in his long innings, stressed the importance of staying at the wicket, and work hard for the singles, lashing out only at the rank bad balls. Lloyd added 41 runs to the total, while Roger Binny took three wickets for India.

India started badly, losing Srikkanth and Ravi Shastri early. The partnership between Vengsarkar and Mohinder Amarnath created panic in the West Indies camp even as Marshall kept producing nasty deliveries and Mohinder took some of them on his hands. Marshall's bouncer did one better — it hit Vengsarkar (32) on the jaw preventing him from taking any further part in the match.

Amarnath's was a brave act as he made a resilient 80, before Holding got him. Except for the 36 by Kapil Dev, none of the others contributed as India ended up making 216.