Low-scoring thrillers, tense draws, and thrilling comebacks abound in the 11 editions of the Cricket World Cup. Cricket fans have been on the edge of their seats from the outset, whether it’s a Kevin O’Brien-inspired Ireland chasing down 328 or India rebounding from 17 for five to win.
As the world’s best ten teams prepare to compete for cricket’s ultimate reward over 11 sites, a series of new classic matchups are certain to follow. Here’s a look back at the top ten matches from the Cricket World Cup.
Australia v West Indies, 1975
The inaugural Cricket World Cup final was bound to go down in history, but West Indies and Australia delivered a match that stands the test of time as one of the tournament’s best. The stage was Lord’s, and the sweltering summertime weather meant that throngs spilled out of the bleachers, with young spectators romping into the outfield with every boundary struck.
And Clive Lloyd delivered a classic captain’s performance, guiding his team from 50 for three to victory with a merciless century in a 149-run fourth-wicket partnership with Rohan Kanhai. Despite a thrilling run chase led by Ian Chappell’s 62, Australia fell 17 runs short of a target of 291 – defeated by Viv Richards’ prowess in the field, which included three consecutive runouts.
Australia v South Africa, 1999
Australia vs. South Africa semi-final, 1999 with one over remaining, there are nine runs. South Africa appeared to be a simple equation away from the Cricket World Cup final, but what followed was an art form of uncertainty and drama that saw them lose out on a first-ever final. Australia reached 213 when Shaun Pollock took five wickets for 36 runs, and Jonty Rhodes and Jacques Kallis combined to leave their side needing one run to win with one wicket remaining.
When Lance Klusener bunted to mid-off, Allan Donald didn’t hear his request for a quick single, Adam Gilchrist snapped off the bails, and the Aussies wheeled away.
England v Ireland, 2011
The ICC World Cup No one name in the legendary history of the Cricket World Cup has ever been more inextricably linked to a single match as Kevin O’Brien is with this specific drama.
Goliath flexed their powers in the early half of the game, with Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, and Jonathan Trott leading England to 327 for eight from 50 overs, a total no side had ever chased before. O’Brien, who had not scored a half-century in nine World Cup innings, bludgeoned 13 fours and six sixes to defy the odds.
It was the fastest century in Cricket World Cup history, and it may never be surpassed in terms of its significance to the Irish cricketing story.
New Zealand v South Africa, 2015
New Zealand vs. South Africa in the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup semi-finals Where else than Eden Park for New Zealand’s red-letter World Cup day, the better part of 100 overs in a tense semi-final won by the hosts?
South Africa, seeking a maiden participation in the World Cup, had their foot in the home team’s neck for the most part, with Faf du Plessis and AB De Villiers dragging his side to 281 from 43 overs. In the run-chase, the Proteas were confronted with the full power of a country and Brendon McCullum’s bat, as the skipper slammed 56 at a cool strike-rate of 226.
It needed Grant Elliott to play the innings of his life, however, matching the pressure of needing five runs from two balls by lifting Dale Steyn for six over mid-on and sparking wild celebrations.
England v India 2011
India vs. England in Group B of the 2011 ICC World Cup A game does not have to have a winner for it to be a classic, as the 2011 duel between host country India and England demonstrated.
There is no greater strain in cricket than the expectation on India before of a World Cup campaign on home soil, and an opening-night triumph against Bangladesh calmed nerves.
And Bangalore was rewarded to Sachin Tendulkar at his magical best, stroking his way to 120 and establishing a magnificent 339.
Andrew Strauss, not a batsman whose technique resembles short-form fireworks, led by example with 158, with Graham Swann and Ajmal Shahzad guiding their side to a thrilling tie.
India v Zimbabwe, 1983
There’s something wonderful about a side romping to victory, but nothing woos cricketing hearts more than a stirring comeback from batting darkness. India collapsed to 17 for five in a top-order totter to equal all others, and it appeared that their opening-game triumph against defending champions West Indies would be in nothing.
But skipper Kapil Dev smashed 175 off 138 balls to lift his team to 266 and set Zimbabwe a hard run-chase. Madan Lal and Dev turned the screw with the ball, winning a surprising victory and laying the groundwork for a campaign that would culminate with India claiming the World Cup title at Lord’s a fortnight later.
Australia v India, 1987
Tendulkar’s first century came in his second tournament, in 1996, when he scored 127* against Kenya. Tendulkar’s first century came in his second tournament, in 1996, when he scored 127* against Kenya. This game marked the end of one cricketing dynasty and the birth of another, as the West Indies were defeated in the semi-finals for the first time in history by Australia.
Richie Richardson, who is retiring from one-day cricket at the end of the tournament, would have been rubbing his hands when Australia collapsed to 15 for four. Even as Stuart Law and Michael Bevan led a comeback to 207, West Indies appeared to have more than enough as Shivnarine Chanderpaul careered them to 165 for two.
Australia vs West Indies 1996
Tendulkar’s first century came in his second campaign, against Kenya, in 1996. Tendulkar’s maiden century came against Kenya in his second tournament in 1996, when he scored 127*. This game marked the end of one cricketing dynasty and the start of another, when Australia defeated the West Indies in the semi-finals for the first time in history.
Richie Richardson, who is retiring from one-day cricket at the end of the tournament, would have been rubbing his hands when Australia collapsed to 15 for four. Despite Stuart Law and Michael Bevan leading a comeback to 207, West Indies appeared to have more than enough when Shivnarine Chanderpaul careered them to 165 for two.
Then came a batting collapse of epic proportions, seven wickets falling for 29 runs and the Aussies reaching their first final in nine years.
India vs Pakistan 2003
Great rivals India and Pakistan put on a fantastic match, and spectators in Centurion witnessed three one-day cricket phenomenons at their prime. Saeed Anwar was the first, flicking and forcing his way to a century to keep his team in the game, recording 273 for seven from 50 overs.
Tendulkar was at his nuggety best once more, producing one of his finest one-day innings to lead his team to victory. Many will remember the game for the sheer venom of Shoaib Akhtar’s bowling, which dismissed Tendulkar with an absolute snorter that dealt a blow to Pakistan as a nation.
India v West Indies 1983
A low-scoring thriller is unbeatable, and one of the genre’s masterpieces happened on the largest platform of all – the Cricket World Cup final 36 years ago. The West Indies bowling assault smothered India with swing, seam, and pace, with Andy Roberts collecting three for 32 from 10 overs and Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding each getting two wickets.
Defeating 184 seemed like an easy assignment, but Viv Richards’ team stumbled, failing to live up to the favorites tag that saw them win the first two tournaments. Madan Lal and Mohinder Amarnath were the main tormentors as the era’s great cricketing force was brought to its knees in front of 30,000 people at Lord’s.