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World Cup Story, 1992 - 1999: Tigers, Lions, and Kangaroos

World Cup Story, 1992 - 1999: Tigers, Lions, and Kangaroos

There was a new sponsor, and matches were shorter. But while these were impressive moves, they were nothing compared to the ones taken in 1992, when the tournament crossed the Equator for the first time.

We have seen how India and Pakistan had forced the World Cup out of England for the 1987 edition. There was a new sponsor, and matches were shorter. But while these were impressive moves, they were nothing compared to the ones taken in 1992, when the tournament crossed the Equator for the first time.

And why not? Was it not Australia, thanks to Kerry Packer, that revolutionised the sport by introducing coloured clothing, floodlights, and black sightscreen? Who else but to take up the mantle?

The fifth edition, hosted by Australia and New Zealand, featured every single one of these. Two new balls were used per innings, while only two men were allowed to field inside the 30-yard circle in the first 15 overs. The eight teams were supposed to feature in a round-robin league.

And they did not change the format when a ninth team was added.


The ninth team

South Africa had returned from their ban in November 1991. Previously a full member, they got automatic entry to the World Cup. The schedule had to be redone.

South Africa’s journey in the tournament was unlike that of any other side. They played brilliantly to make it to the top four. Unfortunately, even then their participation in the semi-final was not guaranteed.

The constitutional reform to end apartheid in South Africa was to be passed two days after their last league match. Geoff Dakin, President of United Cricket Board of South Africa, announced that they would withdraw from the tournament if the referendum “rejected constitutional reform”.

Thankfully, no such mishap happened, and South Africa went ahead. In the semi-final, too, they reached a situation where they needed 22 off 13 balls before a burst of rain changed the target to a farcical 22 in 1.

But South Africa probably got more sympathy than they deserved, for two reasons. First, the Duckworth-Lewis method estimates the target to be 12 off one ball. And secondly, they had taken advantage of another unfair rule: they had bowled only 45 overs within the stipulated time, which meant England, 252/5 at that point, were deprived of 5 “slog overs”. South Africa had to chase 253 in 45 overs.

Dibbly, Dobbly, Wibbly, and Wobbly

Martin Crowe knew what he was doing when he left out Danny Morrison, his main strike bowler, for the tournament opener against Australia. Chris Cairns, the only fast bowler, was an all-rounder.

New Zealand deployed three seamers who bowled straight, moved the ball just a little, and were anything but quick. Willie Watson, Gavin Larsen, and Chris Harris, along with Rod Latham – a batsman who bowled medium pace – earned the sobriquet of Dibbly-Dobbly-Wibbly-Wobbly from David Lloyd as they strangled Australia.

But that was not all Crowe did. He opened bowling with Dipak Patel, the most economic bowler of the tournament (3.10) and promoted Mark Greatbatch to the top. Taking advantage of the short boundaries and the 15-over rule, Greatbatch hit 13 sixes, more than twice as much anyone else did.

Crowe himself top-scored in the tournament with 456 runs at 114 and a strike rate of 91. New Zealand won their first 7 matches before screeching to a halt with consecutive defeats against Pakistan.

But despite all this, Crowe was not the captain of the tournament. We shall return to Imran Khan later.

Of pinch-hitter and a super run out

Crowe was not the first – or only one – to promote a hard hitter to the top. Ian Botham opened before Greatbatch. Taking a cue, India used Kapil Dev; Australia, Tom Moody; West Indies, Brian Lara; and South Africa, Adrian Kuiper.

England became the only team to qualify for the semi-finals five times till then. They have failed in the next six. They bowled out Pakistan for 74 at Adelaide, but rain prevented any play after they were 24/1. Their greatest win came when Alec Stewart and Neil Fairbrother helped them chase 226 in 41 overs against South Africa.

Botham, in the last leg of his career, took 16 wickets (only Wasim Akram got more). His who-writes-your-scripts performance against – who else? – Australia: he took 4/31 and scored 55.

South Africa were clinical on debut. Kepler Wessels, Andrew Hudson, and Peter Kirsten accumulated runs in their own grim, business-like way; Brian McMillan, Hansie Cronje, and Kuiper impressed as all-rounders and Allan Donald with pace; and Meyrick Pringle’s 4/11 against West Indies were the best figures of the tournament.

But the poster boy of the tournament was Jonty Rhodes, who made fielding fashionable. His full-length dive remains the most-used photograph of World Cup 1992, while his run out of Inzamam-ul-Haq is part of cricket folklore.

Australia, favourites coming into the tournament, never impressed, and neither did India. West Indies did well in bursts, the highlight being a very unusual match where only 2 wickets fell (after restricting Pakistan to 220/2, they won by 10 wickets).

Sri Lanka pulled off the world record chase of the time after Zimbabwe put up 312/4 at New Plymouth, Andy Flower scoring a hundred on debut. Zimbabwe had their moment under the sun as well, when Eddo Brandes (4/21) bowled out England for 125 at Albury. It was Zimbabwe’s second win in World Cup cricket.

Cornered tigers

But absolutely nothing matched Pakistan’s progress in the tournament. They won just once in their first 5 matches, that too against Zimbabwe. They were saved by rain against England, as mentioned above.

Then Imran, coaxed out of retirement in 1988, famously walked out to toss in a must-win match at Perth in a white t-shirt with the picture of a tiger sprawled across it. “I want my team today to play like a cornered tiger,” he announced.

We know the rest. Pakistan beat Australia, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand in consecutive matches. Rameez Raja scored his third World Cup hundred, drawing level with Viv Richards; Javed Miandad dominated with bat; and Mushtaq Ahmed and Wasim got the wickets.

Even in the first semi-final New Zealand seemed to be safe after piling up 262/7. Crowe scored an 83-ball 91 despite pulling a hamstring, getting run out only after Greatbatch, his runner, erred.

Then John Wright, in Crowe’s absence, had failed to adhere to the plans. Crowe later lambasted Wright in his autobiography for messing things up despite carrying a piece of paper where Crowe had laid out every bowling change.

Even then, at 140/4 after 35 overs, Pakistan’s new batsman was young Inzamam, still new to international cricket and forced to play the match by Imran despite an upset stomach. Inzamam muscled his way to a 37-ball 60. Miandad stayed till then end with an unbeaten 57, and Pakistan won in a canter after Moin Khan’s fireworks.

Wasim’s twin beauties

Imran opted to bat in the final despite being bowled out for 74 in the league match against England. As in the 1987 semi-final, Imran (72) and Miandad (58) lifted Pakistan from 24/2. Inzamam and Wasim threw their bat around, and Pakistan finished with 249/6.

Fairbrother (62) and Allan Lamb (31) took the score to 141/4 after a few initial hiccups. They needed 109 in 86. And then came Wasim Akram. Earlier in the day he had Botham caught behind with a scorcher. Even the previous ball was a near-unplayable yorker.

The first came into Lamb, then moved away, beat his outside edge, and hit off. The next came back from way outside off – to bowl Chris Lewis, once again, off-stump.

The tail resisted, the last four all reaching double figures, but it was never going to be enough. Pakistan’s incredible journey culminated in a 22-run win in the final.

Arjuna’s Army

The spinners were back in business again in the next edition, hosted by India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Anil Kumble took most wickets (15); and of nine men who took 10 or more wickets in the tournament, four were leg-spinners.

No Sri Lankan took over 7 wickets, but wickets were not what they were after. Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas went for under 4 an over. They had support, from three more finger-spinners who bowled straight on wickets where they needed to: Kumar Dharmasena, Sanath Jayasuriya, and Aravinda de Silva.

They fielded only twelve men throughout the tournament, the only change being the second seamers. And these seamers – Pramodya Wickramasinghe and Ravindra Pushpakumara – did not bowl their full quota even once.

But there was more. In conditions where lateral movement with the new ball was minimal, captain Arjuna Ranatunga and coach Dav Whatmore used two power-hitters – all-rounder Jayasuriya and wicketkeeper Romesh Kaluwitharana – at the top.

Kaluwitharana failed, though his 73 runs took a mere 52 balls. Jayasuriya (132), Ranatunga (115), and de Silva (108) had the three best strike rates in the tournament. Ranatunga also averaged 120.50 and de Silva 89.60, and de Silva and Jayasuriya took 11 wickets between them.

Asanka Gurusinha, who followed Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana in the line-up, hit the most sixes (11). Hashan Tillakaratne, who batted at six to prevent a collapse, got out only twice. And Roshan Mahanama, capable of batting at any gear, followed at seven but was promoted to five in the semi-final when chips were down; he finished the tournament without being dismissed.

Ranatunga was as innovative as Crowe four years ago. He also delivered.

The format and the concessions

ICC added three Associates – Kenya, UAE, and Netherlands. While this was a welcome move, the teams had to be split into groups of six. This meant that 30 league matches needed to be played to select the top eight; and once this was done, only seven matches were played to decide the champion.

Both Australia and West Indies refused to tour Sri Lanka citing security concerns. ICC awarded full points to Sri Lanka, which meant that they as good as reached the quarter-finals without playing a match.

They beat Zimbabwe easily and scored a world record 398/5 against Kenya. And after India scored 271/3, Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana put up 42 after 3 overs, and Sri Lanka won by 4 wickets. Manoj Prabhakar conceded 33 off his first 2 overs; he had to resort to off-breaks before bowing out of international cricket.

Sachin Tendulkar scored a hundred in that match, as he had done against Kenya, to go with a delightful 90 against Australia. Mark Waugh, too, helped himself to two hundreds.

But the most stunning result came on Leap Year’s Day at Pune, where Kenya, having to defend 165, bowled out West Indies for 93. Rajab Ali (3/17) started the rout before Maurice Odumbe (3/15) ran through the middle-order.

The highlight of the innings was the “catch” of Lara. Tariq Iqbal, their bespectacled overweight second wicketkeeper, had dropped a catch and let go three boundaries in the first four overs before getting Lara. The Daily Telegraph described: “The ball sank somewhere into his nether regions and the gloves clutched desperately, trying to locate it.”

Group B was less eventful: South Africa won everything, Pakistan beat everyone other than South Africa, New Zealand beat everyone other than these two, and England, UAE, and Netherlands followed suit in that order.

Gary Kirsten got an unbeaten 188 against UAE in the second match of the tournament – at that point the highest score in World Cup history. Later in the day, UAE captain Sultan Zarawani walked out at No. 10 to face Donald without a helmet. Riled by substitute fielder Pat Symcox (“Al, this guy’s asking for it”), Donald knocked the sunhat off.

Carnage, adrenaline, strategies

England got 235/8 in the first ever World Cup quarter-final. By the time Jayasuriya fell for a 44-ball 82, Sri Lanka had raced to 113 – in the 13th over. England were never in the match after that.

Pakistan took field without an injured Wasim later that day. His replacement Ata-ur-Rehman did well, bowling Tendulkar and giving away just 40. But Navjot Sidhu scored 93, and Ajay Jadeja (45 in 25 balls) took 18 and 22 off two overs from Waqar Younis to take India to 287/8.

Saeed Anwar (48 in 32) and Aamer Sohail (55 in 46) got off to a flying start before Mohammad Azharuddin gave Venkatesh Prasad a change of ends. Sohail smashed Prasad to extra-cover for four and gestured him to fetch the ball; and Prasad responded by bowling Sohail, following it with a charged-up send-off.

Prasad finished with 3/45. Kumble, 3/48. And amidst all this, Miandad bowed out of international cricket after getting run out for a valiant 38 as Pakistan were knocked out.

South Africa left out Donald at Karachi for an extra spinner, which meant that there was no one to stop Lara in his full flow. Lara’s 111 took him 94 balls and included 21 in an over off Symcox. West Indies scored 264/8. South Africa could still have won had they not collapsed from 118/1. Ironically, Roger Harper (4/47), Jimmy Adams (3/53), and Keith Arthurton (1/29) – all spinners – shared 8 wickets.

Lee Germon (89) and Chris Harris (130) combined to take New Zealand to 286/9. Then Mark Waugh got his third hundred; Mark Taylor promoted Shane Warne, who clobbered a few to increase the tempo; Steve Waugh (59* in 68) stayed put; and Stuart Law (42* in 30) finished things off.

Fire and heartbreak

Eden Gardens swelled beyond its official capacity of 90,000 for the semi-final. Some sources cite a turnover of 110,000. And the cauldron erupted when Javagal Srinath got both Kaluwitharana and Jayasuriya in the first over.

Yet Sri Lanka showed no intent to slow down. De Silva counterattacked from the moment he arrived, not stopping even when Gurusinha fell. His 66 took just 47 balls; he was out before the 15 overs were bowled.

Promoted to five, Mahanama got a patient 58 before having to retire; with Ranatunga and Tillakaratne also chipping in and Vaas hitting out at the end, Sri Lanka put up 251/8.

Tendulkar kept India in the match with a delectable 65, but India collapsed spectacularly after he was stumped off Jayasuriya. From 98/1 they became 118/8 when the restless Eden crowd, fuming in disbelief at the goings-on, decided to take matters in their own hands.

No further play was possible after bottles were pelted and stands set on fire and abuses hurled from almost every corner of the ground as Vinod Kambli left the ground in tears. Match referee Clive Lloyd awarded the match to Sri Lanka.

Australia came back twice to win the other semi-final. Law (72) and Michael Bevan (69) lifted them to 207/8 after Curtly Ambrose and Ian Bishop had reduced them to 15/4. Even that should not have mattered, for Shivnarine Chanderpaul (80) and Lara (45) got West Indies to 165/2.

But West Indies adopted a queer batting order, promoting Harper and Ottis Gibson over the specialists, Adams and Arthurton. Taking full advantage, Warne (4/36) ran through the middle order. With 5 to score off 4 balls, last man Courtney Walsh attempted an almighty heave off Damien Fleming and was bowled, leaving Richie Richardson stranded on 49.

Aravinda’s match

Ranatunga opted to bowl – a bold move given that no team had chased successfully in a World Cup final till then. De Silva, named Man of the Match in the semi-final, took 3/42 and held 2 catches, while Murali gave away just 31 in his full quota. But Taylor (74) still managed to take Australia to a competitive 241/7.

Once again Sri Lanka lost their openers cheaply – and once again de Silva could not be restrained. Australia grassed five chances, the easiest being Law’s drop at mid-wicket to give Gurusinha a life. Ranatunga cut loose early, taking full advantage of Warne’s inability to grip the dew-soaked ball properly. He stamped his authority by pulling a Warne full toss into the stands.

De Silva duly got to his hundred to round off the greatest all-round performance a World Cup final has witnessed. Shortly afterwards, Ranatunga steered McGrath for four to create history.

ICC, Duke, and earphones

The World Cup ran through six editions and four sponsors before ICC decided to associate its name with the tournament. England hosted their fourth World Cup, sharing matches with Scotland (who made their World Cup debut), Wales, Ireland, and Netherlands. Bangladesh qualified for their first World Cup after winning a humdinger against Kenya.

Super Sixes, where the top three teams from each group proceeded while carrying forward the head-to-head records, were introduced.

The carry-forward points played a significant role. For example, South Africa topped Group A with 4 wins, followed by India and Zimbabwe with 3 each. But Zimbabwe beat both South Africa and India, which meant that they proceeded with 4 points, South Africa with 2, and India 0.

A controversy arose when Cronje took field against India with earphones to communicate with coach Bob Woolmer – a perfectly legal strategy. After much discussion, match referee Talat Ali asked Cronje to take them off.

The seamers found handling the Duke ball difficult, for it swung considerably, especially in the first half (the tournament had a mid-May start). India, for example, conceded 51 extras against Zimbabwe, which eventually cost them the match.

Tendulkar missed the Zimbabwe match to attend his father’s funeral. He returned in the Kenya match, for an emotional 140 not out – the first hundred of the tournament. Rahul Dravid scored an unbeaten 104 in the same match. Sourav Ganguly slammed 183 and Dravid 145 against Sri Lanka, while and Ajay Jadeja got 100 not out in the Super Sixes. These were first five hundreds of the tournament – an incredible statistic for a side that finished sixth.

Australia stuttered through the early phases, losing to New Zealand (by 5 wickets) and Pakistan (10 runs). They needed to win their last match – and even that would mean qualifying for the Super Sixes without a point.

McGrath (5/14) first shot out West Indies for 110. Now, from 62/4 in the 20th over, Steve Waugh and Bevan deliberately slowed things down: they took 127 balls to score the remaining 49 runs. The idea was to push West Indies’ net run rate above New Zealand’s – to ensure Australia went through with 2 points.

But New Zealand, playing last, bowled out Scotland for 121 and chased down inside 18 overs to edge past West Indies.

The upset of the tournament took place at Northampton, where Bangladesh scored 223/9 and bowled out Pakistan for 161. They found an unlikely hero in Khaled Mahmud (27 and 3/31). This was Pakistan’s only defeat in the league stage.

The Zulu factor

Before we discuss Lance Klusener’s performances in detail, let us have a look at his tournament numbers, for one can hardly improve on 281 runs at 140.50 (strike rate 122), and 17 wickets at 20.58 (economy 4.61). Yuvraj Singh, in 2011, became the only other one to do the 250 run-15 wicket double in a single edition, but Klusener trumped him in batting and bowling averages as well as economy and batting strike rates.

After taking 3/66 against India, Klusener (52* in 45) lifted South Africa from 122/8 to 199/9 against Sri Lanka, then took 3/21, and a 40-ball 48* against England. Chasing 234, South Africa were in tatters at 40/6. Klusener slammed 52 not out in 58 balls.

He finished the league stage without getting dismissed; and stayed unbeaten against Pakistan in the Super Sixes as well. South Africa needed 46 in 34 balls with 3 wickets in hand; Klusener (46* in 41) got them home with an over to spare. Against Australia in the Super Sixes he slammed 36 in 21. And we all remember his 16-ball unbeaten 31 in the semi-final – despite those two dot balls in the end.

Super Sixes

Australia needed to win everything to lift the World Cup. They had already beaten Bangladesh and West Indies. Now they would win every single match (if one ignores the tied semi-final) – till 2011.

They beat India easily in their first Super Sixes match. Neil Johnson fought back in the next. He took 2/43 in Australia’s 303/4, then batted through Zimbabwe’s innings with an unbeaten 132. Zimbabwe were probably in the hunt at 153/1 in the 29th over, but it was always an uphill task.

Australia then became 48/3 in pursuit of 272 against South Africa. At this point Steve Waugh (120* in 110) added 126 with Ricky Ponting (69) – during which they added 77 between overs 22 and 29 – and 73 with Bevan (27).

The most-recalled moment of the match happened when Waugh was on 56. Herschelle Gibbs caught him at mid-wicket but dropped the ball while attempting a premature celebration. Waugh has, however, denied having told Gibbs “son, you’ve just dropped the World Cup”.

The win also meant that Australia sneaked past South Africa in net run rate – something that would hurt the latter.

Amidst all this, in the backdrop of the Kargil War, India and Pakistan played a high-octane match at Old Trafford. Dravid (61) and Azhar (59) took India to 227/6 before Prasad (5/27) and Srinath (3/37) bowled out Pakistan for 180.

And Saqlain Mushtaq took the second hat-trick in World Cup history at The Oval, dismissing Henry Olonga, Adam Huckle, and Mpumelelo Mbangwa.

The greatest ever ODI?

New Zealand’s run ended in the semi-final. Shoaib Akhtar gave away 55, but he bowled three men, the yorker that proved to be too quick for Stephen Fleming being arguably the ball of the tournament. Saeed Anwar (113*) and Wajahatullah Wasti (84) added 194, and Pakistan won by 9 wickets.

But the other semi-final more than made up for this anti-climax. Shaun Pollock (5/36) and Donald (4/32) first reduced Australia to 68/4. Then Steve Waugh (56) and Bevan (65) added 90; Pollock and Donald came back to to skittle Australia for 213; and Gary Kirsten and Gibbs added 48 for the first wicket.

But South Africa still had Warne to contend with. Gibbs went first, to a ball that pitched outside leg and hit off; Kirsten, to one that turned a mile into him; and Cronje, caught at slip – all in the space of 8 balls. And Bevan ended Cullinan’s misery by running him out by some distance.

Once again there was a fifth-wicket recovery as Jacques Kallis (53) added 84 with Rhodes (45), but once they fell, South Africa collapsed in a heap. When the ninth wicket fell, South Africa needed 16 off 8.

But Klusener kept going. He hit a six (with some help from Paul Reiffel on the fence), then retained strike, then bludgeoned Fleming for two fours. Australia brought the fielders in, and Donald survived a run out at the non-striker’s end amidst some madness.

Klusener hit the next ball straight and kept running. Donald, late to take off, dropped his bat and fell significantly short as Mark Waugh rolled the ball to Adam Gilchrist. Australia went through based on the respective positions of the two teams in the Super Sixes.

An insipid final

Wasim chose to bat after rain delayed the start. Abdul Razzaq and Ijaz Ahmed took Pakistan to 68/2, but once Razzaq fell, they were left defenceless against Warne, who followed his 4/29 in the semi-final with 4/33. And of these four wickets, Ijaz was the only one who did not throw it away.

The Australian catching was superb, especially Mark Waugh’s at slip to dismiss Wasti; Moody took two crucial wickets; McGrath got 9-3-13-2; and Pakistan were bowled out for 132, still the lowest score in a World Cup final. Nobody scored more than 22.

Gilchrist’s 36-ball 54 sealed things thereafter. The entire match lasted 59.1 overs – less than the stipulated length of an innings in the first three editions.

And the era of Australian success began.

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