Saturday, January 29, 2011

Memories of Past World Cups of Cricket [Part-1]: Prudential Cups 1975 and 1979, India's victory in 1983, Reliance Cup 1987, Pakistan's win in 1992 and beyond

Great Gavaskar's ignominious innings
As ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 is all set to begin in just a couple of weeks and cricket fever will be back soon, its time to reminisce the sporting moments of the past world cups.

In those days when there were no satellite TV channels and little other avenues of entertainment, not just matches but particular strokes of a player in a match and other sporting moments were remembered and debated for years.

Prudential World Cup 1975: WI emerge ODI champions, Gavaskar's notorious 36* in 60 overs

The first world cup, which was known as Prudential World Cup was played in England in 1975. As the day is longer in United Kingdom, the Limited Over International (LOI) matches consisted of 60 over for each side.

West Indies had won the first world cup with ease by defeating Australia in the final. Such was the lack of preparation of Indian players that Sunil Gavaskar had remained not out at 36 in 60 overs. He scored 36 over 174 balls which he faced.

In fact, Indian selectors apparently hadn't given much thought to the ODI format and there was no training. The English bowlers didn't even want Gavaskar to get out as his batting ensured an easy victory for England that earlier scored 334 for 4. Their bowlers also got ample opportunity to practice. India could manage just 132 for 3 in the sixty overs.

Prudential World Cup 1979: Lloyd again lifts trophy at Lord's

The next world cup was again won by West Indies that had established itself as masters of the limited overs' game. Led by Clive Lloyd, West Indian cricketers decimated all other teams to reach final where they beat England by 92 runs to win the second successive world cup.
Super cat Clive Llyod lifts the trophy

India lost to Sri Lanka in 1979 tournament and it was considered an upset. Australia was much weaker as its leading players had gone to Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket where they were playing under floodlights in empty stadiums.

The great Vivian Richards hit a masterful 138 not out had helped the Windies post a total of 286 runs. England failed despite an effort by Mike Brearley and Geoff Boycott. Lloyd lifted the championship trophy again in Lord's. But the next world cup was going to end the Windies' reign.

Prudential World Cup 1983: India's spectacular win, Kapil Dev ends West Indian domination

Kapil Dev led India to an extraordinary win in the world cup. The Indian team that comprised many young and less experienced lads was not taken seriously but under the captaincy of Haryana Hurricane, India not only made upset victories but also defeated the dreaded West Indies in the final.

The World Cup is remembered for India's match against Zimbabwe when after losing five wickets for mere 17, Kapil Dev took charge. It was a cavalier innings. Gavaskar, Srikkanth, Sandeep Patil, Yashpal Sharma and Mohinder Amarnath were out for 0,0, 1, 9 and 5 respectively.

But Kapil first partnered with Roger Binny and then with Madan Lal to take India to a respectable total. Then came the ninth wicket partnership of 126 with Syed Kirmani. In process he hit 175 not out, taking India to 266.
Kapil, Amarnath after winning 1983 world cup

Later Kapil's inspiring sportsmanship and captaincy was responsible for the manner in which India beat West Indies in the finals.

In the final match, Srikkanth top scored with 38 followed by Patil (27) and Amarnath (26). India barely reached 183.

However, under-rated medium pacers Madan Lal, Roger Binny, Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Mohinder Amarnath turned the tables for India. Amarnath gave just 12 runs in 7 overs to pick 3 wickets.

The Calypsos were bundled out for 140. The mighty Windies apparently suffered such a shock that they steadily declined and within a period of just two years lost the tag of invincible team.

Reliance World Cup: Allan Border's Australia steal the honours, Gavaskar retires

It was the first world cup that was held outside England and showing growing clout of India and Pakistan in the cricket world. Initially Hinduja were supposed to sponsor it but after they backed out, Reliance sponsored the event. For the first time, all teams played 50 overs each unlike past when both sides batted for 60 overs.

Fresh from the world cup victory and the magnificent win at Benson and Hedges World Championship [1985] in Australia where Ravi Shastri had endeared himself to millions with his all-round display, India was again favourites.

Navjot Siddhu
If Kris Srikkanth and Kapil Dev were masters of the game, the emergence of Ravi Shastri and Mohammad Azharuddin, had given an edge to India. However, Gavaskar who had changed his game in accordance with the needs of the LOIs and played attacking cricket, had already announced his intention to retire after the World Cup.

One felt that Indian team could win the trophy and it would be a gift befitting the man's contribution but India failed to win. The emergence of Navjot Singh Siddhu as a pinch hitter [yet technically correct] and amazingly consistent batsman in ODIs was an added advantage.

England and Imran Khan's Pakistan were also among the favourites and Vivian Richards' West Indies was still considered a deadly force. However, another team of young lads, Australia, led by the formidable Allan Border surprised everybody as they clinched the trophy.

In the first semi-final Imran Khan had batted brilliantly by scoring 58 and clinched three wickets aided by Javed Miandad's 70. However, Mcdermott's five wicket haul proved costly and chasing Australia's 267, they lost by 18 runs.

In the other semi-final, Graham Gooch's century powered England to 254 despite Maninder Singh's superb effort but Indian team fell like a pack of cards with just Azharuddin playing the lone warrior with 64. Due to Hemmings' devastating bowling, India got out to 219 and lost by 35 runs.

In the final David Boon's century had set the stage as Aussies reached 253. Despite Graham Gooch, Bill Athey, Mike Gatting and Allan Lamb scoring substantial runs, England finally lost to Kangaroos by seven runs due to tight bowling [and fielding] by Steve Waugh and Border.

1992 World Cup: Imran inspires Pakistan to spectacular success, Mark Greatbatch dazzles

The World Cup that was organized jointly by Australian and New Zealand is remembered for the manner in which Pakistan's captain Imran Khan inspired his players and came back from nowhere to win the championship.

It was this competition that saw Mark Greatbatch assuming the role of pinch-hitter. He didn't play in the intial matches but as John Wright was injured, Greatbatch got the opportunity and took advantage of the changed rules regarding number of fielders in the initial 15 overs, to power New Zealand to the semi-final.

Martin Crowe also batted brilliantly. Apart from Inzamam-ul-Haq's emergence, the world cup is also remembered as Sachin Tendulkar showed his class and made his world cup debut. India beat Pakistan by 43 runs in the earlier match in which Tendulkar remained not out on 54 while Ajay Jadeja hit 43.

Both the semi-finals were memorable. Martin Crowe hit 91 to take New Zealand to 262. But Pakistan successfully chased the total as Javed Miandad, Imran Khan, Ramiz Raja and Inzamam-ul-Haq batted superbly. Miandad and Moin Khan closed the match with a over to go.

The other semi-final is still remembered as after its return from Apartheid era, South Africa returned to mainstream cricket world and Kepler Wessels' team had made a great comeback while chasing England's 252.

McMillan and Richardson were at the crease and 22 were needed of 13 balls when Duckworth/Lewis rule changed target to 21 runs off 1 ball. In the final, Pakistan batted first. Imran led the charge and hit 70 that took Pakistan to 249.

Ian Botham who opened the batting for England was out for nought. Except Neil Fairbrother, no batsman could play the fiery Wasim Akram aided by Aqib Javed and Mushtaq Ahmed. In the end, an emotional Imran Khan made a speech mentioning his plan to build a cancer hospital in memory of his mother late Shaukat Khanum.

[This is the second part of the series of articles on World Cup. The first part about the schedule of upcoming ICC cricket world cup 2011, players' records and teams' chances can be read at the link. The next part on the world cups from 1996 onwards will be published soon]