World Cups in the past have seen some great encounters. Some of those thrilling encounters were the key matches to decide to the overall outcome of the tournament and remained in the public memory for years to come. We are listing 15 such matches for you!
#1. West Indies vs Pakistan (Group Stage, 1975)
West Indies and Pakistan played a brilliant thriller during the group stage in 1975. Pakistan scored 266/7 and while chasing West Indies collapsed to 166/ 8. With more than 100 runs required it looked very difficult for them but the West Indian wicketkeeper Deryck Murray played brilliant innings of 61 and first added 37 runs with Vanburn Holder and then added 64 runs with number eleven Andy Roberts to take them to win the match in the 60th over after lots of tension.
#2. West Indies vs Australia (Final, 1975)
West Indies and Australia played a thrilling final at Lord’s on the year’s longest day. The two strongest teams faced each other for the first World Cup final. From 50 for 3, West Indies captain Clive Lloyd with his brilliant 102 took the team to 291/8. During the chase, with162/3 Australia looked in a stronger position but the West Indies team took themselves to a new level with their tight bowling and fielding. Five Australian batsmen were run out. From 233/9 the last Aussie pair of Lillee and Thomson took Australia to 274 but after lots of drama including a wicket of a no-ball West Indies won the first World Cup by 17 runs.
#3. India vs Zimbabwe (Group Stage, 1983)
Although the final was the most memorable for India in 1983, this group league match arguably was the turning point. This was a must-win for Indians to qualify for the semi-final but the batting line up collapsed in front of Zimbabwe pacers, Peter Rawson and Kevin Curran. India were 17/ 5 and looking down the barrel when Kapil Dev happened! Kapil muscled his way through a match-winning 175 runs, the first ODI century by an Indian and took India to 266 with the second-highest score being Syed Kirmani’s 26. The bowlers did their job and India eventually won the match by 31 runs and got the vital two points.
#4. India vs West Indies (Final, 1983)
The match that turned the World Cricket on its head! Nobody was backing India when they reached their first World Cup final against a very strong West Indies squad. West Indies won the first two World Cups and were expected to complete the hat-trick. But Kapil Dev’s young squad fought with all their capability. They put up only 183 but defended it with their all-around ability. A dangerous Viv Richards was caught by Kapil Dev who ran backwards quite a distance to grab the same. This lifted the team morale and finally, the much-fancied West Indies were all out for 140, giving India their first triumph.
#5. Australia vs England (Final, 1987)
The 1987 final saw cricket’s oldest rivalry taking the centre stage in a World Cup final. Both England and Australia beat the hosts India and Pakistan respectively to reach the final at the Eden Gardens. In final, Australia scored 253. Thanks to 75 from David Boon and 45 off 31 from Mike Veletta at the death who despite being a wicketkeeper, played as a pure batsman. While chasing, England were on driver’s seat with England captain Mike Gatting looking set to take them to victory. But then Allan Border came to bowl; Gatting tried to play a reverse sweep and was caught by the keeper and England Collapsed. Australia finally won their first World Cup by just seven runs.
#6. South Africa vs England (Semi Final, 1992)
It was a close match with one of the most controversial endings in history. After a 20 years hiatus, South Africa returned to international cricket and qualified for the semi-final in their first World Cup. England batted first and scored 252/6 in their 45 overs (reduced due to rain). Chasing 253 South Africa batted sensibly. There were lots of partnerships and on 206/6 all-rounder Brian McMillan and wicketkeeper Dave Richardson took them close to victory. This is when the rain returned and resulted in two overs reduction from the chase. At that point, South Africa required 22 off 13 balls. As per the rules of the tournament, for over reduction in the second innings, the lowest scoring overs from the first innings would be considered. Since there were two maiden overs in England innings after the reduction of overs, the new target was 22 runs from 1 ball. South Africans were heartbroken and the rain rule was severely criticized.
#7. Kenya vs West Indies (Group Stage, 1996)
On 29th February 1996, the underdog Kenya team had one of their most memorable victories which are considered to be one of the biggest upset in the history of the tournament. Chasing 167 for a victory, the fancied batting line up of West Indies kept losing wicket as Rajab Ali and Maurice Odumbe took three wickets each. Lara was caught miraculously by the misfiring Kenyan wicketkeeper Tariq Iqbal and West Indies fell to one of their most shocking losses.
#8. Australia vs West Indies (Semi-Final, 1996)
West Indies hoped to return to another World Cup final when they put Australia under lots of pressure on15/4. However, Australia recovered, as Michael Bevan and Stuart Law carried the innings to set the final score of 207/8. Chasing the moderately low total, West Indies were 165/2 and looked comfortable for a place in the final. This is when Glenn McGrath took Shivnarine Chandrapaul and panic set in. Shane Warne and Damien Fleming ran through the lower middle order and West Indies lost the match by just five runs.
9. Australia vs South Africa (Super Six, 1999)
1999 saw two of the greatest matches between these two countries. It was a do or die situation for Australia and Steve Waugh became the saviour. Chasing 272 for a spot in the semi-final, Australia were 48/3 when Waugh came to bat. He patiently built a partnership with Ricky Ponting. On 152/3, Waugh hit a flick uppishly which went straight to Herschelle Gibbs who in the excitement tried to throw the ball up to celebrate even before completely controlling the ball. And the catch was dropped. Waugh successfully took the Aussies to the next phase. Interestingly, Shane Warne supposedly predicted the lapse from Gibbs in the team meeting although whether Steve Waugh said, “You just dropped the World Cup!” is not confirmed by any of the parties.
#10. Australia vs South Africa (Semi-Final, 1999)
The greatest of any World Cup match was played between Australia and South Africa at Edgbaston during the 1999 World Cup. Two well-matched teams played some great cricket. Batting first Australia scored 213 thanks to fifties from Michael Bevan and Steve Waugh as Shaun Pollock took five wickets. South Africa started confidently in their chase. But with 48 for no loss, Shane Warne came and ran through the top order. Warne finished the match with 4/29 and South Africa were struggling on 175/6 in the 45th over. The player of the tournament Lance Klusener came and started hitting the ball from the beginning. Despite the fall of wickets at the other end, the entire match was depending on Klusener. With nine required off the last over and with only Allan Donald for company, Klusener hit the first two balls of Damien Fleming to the boundary. But with just one needed there was a terrible mix up on the 4th ball and Donald was run out. A tie took Australia to the final. Klusener was heartbroken as his 16-ball 31 went in vain.
#11. India vs Pakistan (Group Stage, 2003)
India and Pakistan met six times before this World Cup and India won all the times convincingly. However, the 2003 match was the most hyped and also saw one of the best innings in World Cup history. The match, played in Centurion saw Saeed Anwar scoring a century and lifting Pakistan to 273. Chasing at close to 5.5 runs per over in an India-Pakistan match was never easy but Sachin Tendulkar launched an audacious attack on Pakistan. Thanks to him, India scored 27 runs in first two overs bowled by Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar and from then on there was no looking back. Later Tendulkar had cramps and was out with his personal score 98 but Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh completed the chase for India.
#12. England vs Ireland (Group Stage, 2011)
Ireland always provided a surprise or two in every world cup. After their win over Pakistan in 2007, in 2011 they recorded a memorable win over England. Chasing a mammoth 328 for a win they were 11/5 when Kevin O’ Brien took charge and recorded the fastest century in the history of the World Cup. His 50-ball hundred propelled Ireland to a memorable victory over the big brothers.
#13. India vs England (Group Stage, 2011)
In a memorable match in Bangalore, India and England fought so hard that the winner could not be decided after 100 overs. India scored 338 based on a ton by Tendulkar but England responded strongly with the captain Andrew Strauss scoring 158. At one stage they required 58 off 45 balls with eight wickets in hand. However led by Zaheer Khan, Indian bowlers made a strong comeback and took the match to the last ball where needing two runs for a win Graeme Swann could only take a single and the match ended in a tie.
#14. Afghanistan vs Scotland (Group Stage, 2015)
Both the teams did not have a good World Cup and they were desperate to win this match. In a low-scoring match, thanks to Shapoor Zadran’s four wickets Afghanistan restricted Scotland to 210. After a good start Afghans lost too many wickets in a heap and on 97/7 had hardly any hope of winning. However, Samiullah Shinwari played the innings of a lifetime and slowly took Afghanistan close to the target. But he was dismissed for 96 and Afghanistan still required 19 runs off 19 balls from their number ten and eleven. Shapoor joined Hamid Hassan. They blocked, nudged and nicked to get runs one by one. Finally, a couple of Shapoor boundaries took them to a memorable victory in the 50th over.
#15. New Zealand vs Australia (Group Stage, 2015)
The Trans-Tasmanian neighbors played a low scoring thriller in 2015. Batting first, Australia had a good start thanks to David Warner but New Zealand bowlers made a strong comeback. Tim Southee got the dangerous Warner out and then thanks to Trent Boult Australia were 106/9. Brad Haddin’s outstanding 43 took Australia to 151. Brendon McCullum scored a 24-ball fifty and looked determined to take the match away from Australia. However, his dismissal after reaching fifty triggered a collapse. Mitchell Starc kept picking up wickets and with 146/9 on board, it was anybody’s game. But Boult survived two Starc deliveries and Kane Williamson hit a six in the next over to clinch victory.
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