We made an effort to list down some of the best match winning performances across 11 World Cups. In making the list ,we considered few parameters such as quality of opposition, match situations, importance of the win in relation of the event, playing conditions etc. We listed down 31 performances and could not accommodate many more . Hopefully the readers will enjoy this list.
Gary Gilmour (Australia) 6/14 and 28 not out v England at Leeds WC SF 1975 :Australia won the toss and asked England to bat on a green top and Gary Gilmour, the burly left arm swing bowler swung the ball like a banana and bamboozled the England batsmen with unplayable deliveries. Dennis Ammis, Barry Wood, Flecher, Hayes could not deal with his inswing and Tony Grieg was drawn towards his outswing. England crashed to 93 allout. Aussies batters too fared no better with 6 wickets down for 39 when Gilmour joined last recognized batsman Doug Walters and took Australia to the finals with a superb 28 notout off 28 balls to win man of the match award. Great allround show.
Clive Lloyd (West indies): 102 off 85 balls vs Australia WC finals Lords 1975: The giant 6ft 4 in frame West Indian captain walked out with West Indies in a bit of bother at 50/3 and what an innings he played full of savage hitting against a bowling attack of Lillee, Thomson, Gilmour and Walker. He scorched the Lords turf with 12 blistering fours and hit two towering sixes playing the drives, cuts ,pulls all round the ground. His 102 off 85 balls won West Indies the finals in 1975.
Vivian Richards (West indies) 138 off 157 balls v England WC Finals Lords 1979: A brilliant innings ,more responsible at the start with Windies struggling at 99/4. He had a great partnership with Collis King who blasted 86. After Collis King was dismissed , Richards took it upon himself to destroy the England attack at the backend of the innings smashing 11 fours and 3 sixes in all to take his team to a big score of 286. England were bowled out for 192 and Windies won the finals with Richards getting man of the match.
Winston Davis (West Indies) 7/51 vs Australia Leeds WC 1983: Australia were chasing 253 target against West Indies an an important group game for both teams. Marshall was injured and Winston Davis replaced him for this game and went on to bowl brilliantly moving the ball around and got most of the Aussie batters in trouble trying to play the swing. Davis ran through the Australian batting order and enabled his team to get vital points in quest for reaching semi finals.
Kapil Dev (India) 175 off 138 balls vs Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells WC 1983: Indian looking for a spot in the semis were tottering at 17/5 when Kapil walked out to play one of the greatest innings of all times. He was biding his time initially trying to consolidate the innings after the initial carnage caused by Zimbabwe bowlers in good bowling conditions at the start. Later with help of Kirmani , Binny and Madanlal , he forged crucial partnerships and went totally berserk in the 2nd half of his innings blasting 16 fours and 6 sixes in the innings of a lifetime. India went on to beat Zimbabwe by 31 runs and finally won the World Cup 1983 which would have been impossible without Kapil’s knock against Zimbabwe.
Mohinder Amarnath (India) 46 and 2/27 vs England WC SF Manchester 1983 : India and England locked horns in World Cup semis in 1983 and England were off to a flier till Binny and Mohinder Amarnath came on to bowl. Mohinder was the batting allrounder in ODI cricket. The Indian vice captain proceeded to bowl a highly economical spell of 2/27 off 12 overs with his gentle medium pace, dismissing Gower off an outside edge and bowled Gatting off a sharp inswinger. England were restricted to 213 . Coming to bat at 50/2 , Mohinder played a solid knock of 46 off 92 balls (4 fours and 1 six) on a pitch difficult for strokeplay and ball moving off the seam. After he was runout ,Yashpal and Patil completed the win for India. Mohinder was the man of the match as India reached the finals.
Mohinder Amarnath (India) 26 and 3/12 vs West Indies WC Finals Lords 1983: India were put in to bat on a green top and Mohinder took strike with India 2/1 with Gavaskar gone. Immediately he had to deal with Joel Garner bowling unplayable deliveries with balls flying past ears . Roberts and Holding were moving it around and Marshall was bowling at rapid pace. “Jimmy” as Mohinder was affectionately called, stood his ground showing top quality technique and looked completely at ease till Holding bowled him with an indipper for 26 runs which was equivalent of a 70 or 80 on a better pitch. After his dismissal India’s innings went downhill. Chasing 183 Windies lost 6 wickets for 76 when Dujon and Marshall stitched a vital 43 run partnership to get Windies back in the game but Jimmy’s golden arm finally accounted for Dujon ,bowled off inside edge, Marshall caught off an outswinger and lastly Holding lbw. India made history at Lords and Amarnath took 3/12 off his 7 overs to get Man of the match again for another allround show , proving his worth again in big matches.
Craig McDermott (Australia) 5/44 vs Pakistan WC SF Lahore 1987: Pakistan were huge favourites to beat underdogs Australia even after Australia set a 267 run target. Craig McDermott had other ideas when he knocked over Mansoor Akthar’s stumps at start and then proceeded to rip through the Pakistan lower order after Imran- Miandad stand was broken by Border. His pace was too hot to handle by Pakistan’s lower order on a flat pitch as Australia reached their 2nd World Cup finals.
Sachin Tendulkar (India) 54no and 1/37 v Pakistan, Sydney WC 1992 : India v Pakistan’s 1st ever World Cup clash. Batting 1st India managed a modest 216/7 in 49 overs with 17 year old prodigy Tendulkar leading the way with a neat and matured 54 notout off 62 balls with only 3 fours but running singles hard on a pitch difficult for strokeplay . In reply Amir Sohail was looking ominous till Tendulkar had him caught by Srikkant for 62. Tendulkar took 1/37 bowling his full quota of 10 overs to help India to a crucial win to stay afloat in the event.
Ian Botham (England): 4/31 and 53 off 77 balls vs Australia WC Sydney 1992 : Botham has a long history of tormenting the Aussies in test cricket and that now extends in ODIs . Australia were already struggling and were further snuffed out by Ian Botham’s fine spell at the back end ,his wickets included that of Border who was bowled by an inswinger. Then chasing a modest score of 172, Botham hit a strokeful 53 to ensure a convincing win for the poms.
Inzamam Ul Haq (Pakistan) 60 off 37 balls vs New Zealand WC SF Auckland 1992: Chasing 263 target for a spot in the finals , Pakistan looked to be struggling to keep pace with asking rate till a young Inzamam stepped in at 140/4 and with the wily old fox Javed Miandad for company, played a fabulous innings full of superbly timed strokes with 7 fours and a six. His rapid 60 off 37 balls took the winds out of an accurate Kiwi bowling attack and put Pakistan in their first ever World cup final.
Wasim Akram (Pakistan) 33 off 18 balls and 3/49 vs England WC Finals Melbourne 1992: Pakistan needed some backend thrust to their innings to reach a formidable score and so Wasim Akram was sent at number 6 to hit out which he did successfully with some quick runs at the end. His 18 ball 33 helped his team to reach a decent score of 249 at the huge MCG. Then with ball in hand he dismissed Ian Botham for 0 and later when England looked to have made a comeback ,Wasim was brought back for his 2nd spell and with two lethal inswingers, he rattled the stumps of a dangerous Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis to take Pakistan to a great World Cup win and himself getting man of the match.
Sanath Jayasurya (SriLanka) 2/46 and 82 no of 44 balls at Faislabad v England WC QF 1996: In a must win game Jayasurya showed his all round skills taking crucial wickets of Defreatas(67) and Dermot Reeve(35) with his tight spin to restrict England to 235, himself taking 2/46 . Then he played a thundering knock to maul the England bowling attack scoring 82 off 44 balls with 13 fours and 3 towering sixes to lay the foundation of an easy Lankan win to reach the semis.
Brian Lara (West Indies) 111 off 94 balls v South Africa Faislabad WC QF 1996: The prince rose to the occasion in a must win quarterfinal match vs out and out favourites South Africa. His brilliant 111 with 16 classy fours helped West indies to get a challenging score of 264. In reply the Proteas choked under knockout pressure as the Windies bowlers bowled with tight lines to restrict the SAF batsmen . The favourites lost by 19 runs and crashed out of the World cup.
Shane Warne (Australia) 4/36 vs West indies WC SF Mohali 1996 : West Indies and Australia were locked in a gripping semifinal with West Indies cruising in their chase of a modest Australian score of 207 . Warne had the initial wicket and then he was brought in the last few overs of the innings. He brought out all his variations as the batters could not understand his tricks. Jimmy Adams and Bishop could not catch his flippers and both were lbw while Gibson was caught behind. Warne with his last spell helped his team to finally win a thriller to reach another World cup final and himself getting man of the match.
Aravinda DeSilva ( SriLanka) : 3/42 and 107 notout vs Australia WC Final Lahore 1996: One of the best allround shows in an ODI. In the final of 1996 ,the Aussie batters could not get away the accurate off spin of Desilva who picked up crucial wickets of Mark Taylor, Ponting and Healy to restrict team to 241. In reply SriLanka lost both openers early but Desilva ensured victory with a brilliant knock of 107notout off 124 balls with 13 classy boundaries . His brilliant allround show won him the Man of the Match.
Lance Klusener (South Africa) 52no off 45 balls and 3/21 v SriLanka Northampton WC 1999 : The Proteas were tottering at 115/7 batting first when Klusener came to bat. Initially he consolidated to extend the innings with the Lankans bowling in good areas and then in final flourish hit an accurate Chaminda Vaas for 22 runs in final over to take the Africans to 199 with himself scoring 52 notout . Srilankans could not handle the high quality South African bowling and at the end Klusener bowled a hostile spell and took 3 wickets to knock off the lower order in a fine allround show which provided hard earned points to South Africa as the Lankans lost by 89 runs.
Wasim Akram (Pakistan) 4/40 v Australia Leeds WC 1999 : In a gripping match chasing an imposing target of 275, the Aussies lost Gilchrist early bowled by a brilliant inswinger from Wasim for 0. Later Steve Waugh and Bevan stabilished the innings and looked like winning it when Wasim came back to pickup crucial wickets of Bevan and Martyn and bowling Mcgrath to take Pakistan to a thrilling 10 run victory with his skillful and aggressive bowling and captaincy.
Sourav Ganguly ( India) : 183 v Srilanka Tounton WC 1999 : In tough batting conditions in initial stages of the match , Ganguly took his time to settle down against the reigning champions and had a brilliant partnership with Dravid who also played a fabulous innings of 145. After Dravid’s exit, he went berserk and mauled the accurate Srilankan bowling to hit 17 fours and 7 huge sixes to end at 183 and put the game beyond Lankan’s reach . India went on to win the match with ease defending 373.
Sourav Ganguly ( India) : 40 and 3/27 v England Egbaston WC 1999: In an important group match India batted first and Ganguly played a crisp knock of 40 with 6 fours in decent bowling conditions to give the team a solid start. India set a final target of 233 to England. Sourav bowled Nasser Hussain for 33 with a good inswinger getting assistance from the conditions. Later he picked up Fairbrother and Ealham extracting swing in overcast conditions to get 3/27 and Indian winning by 63 runs. A fine allround performance with bat and ball got him another man of the match.
Lance Klusener (South Africa): 1/41 and 46 no v Pakistan Trent Bridge Super6 WC1999: After getting 1/41 (wicket of a dangerous Ijaz Ahmed) in Pakistan innings of 220, South Africa were staring at defeat when Klusener came to bat at 135/6. Later it became 176/7. After taking his time initially Klusener opened up hitting some mighty blows towards the backend with Shoaib Akhtar bowling at 95 mph. His 46no off 41 balls with 3 fours and 3 sixes took South Africa to a thrilling victory against one of the best bowling attacks in 1999 World cup. Klusener was in tremendous matchwinning form in World Cup99.
Steve Waugh (Australia ) 120 no v South Africa Leeds super6 WC 1999 : In a must win situation Australia were chasing 272 target set by South Africa and were in big trouble 58/3 when Ponting and Steve Waugh had a crucial stand. When Ponting left still around 100 was required in last 16 overs. Gibbs muffed a sitter when Waugh was on 55. That proved costly for South Africa as Waugh played a masterly knock and won a thriller in the last over remaining not out at 120 off 110 balls with 10 fours and two sixes to take Aussies in the semis ,thus scripting a big comeback for Australia from potential elimination.
Shane Warne (Australia) 4/29 v South Africa Birmingham WC SF 1999 : In the match for the ages. South Africa were cruising at 48/0 chasing a modest 214 target as Waugh in desperation threw the ball to Warne to get a breakthrough and in very 1st over he bowled a special leg break to spin the ball across Gibbs and hit his offstump. Another leg spinner soon got Kirsten bowled sweeping. Cronje was snapped up by Mark Waugh at slip and later Kallis at 53 was caught by Steve Waugh . Warne’s special 4/29 spell helped Australia to get a sensational tie to reach the finals by virtue of their win vs SAF in super6 match.
Shane Warne (Australia) 4/33 v Pakistan Lords WC final 1999: Cometh the hour cometh the man. Another fabulous example of leg spin bowling in the final ripped through the Pakistan middleorder with crucial wickets of Ijaz Ahmed, Moin Khan, Afridi, and Wasim Akram. Pakistan’s strong batting could not handle Warne’s guiles and were shot out for 132 leaving Australia easy winners by 8 wickets to win the cup. Warne thus got the man of the match award in both semis and finals. A true match winner.
Andy Bichel (Australia ) 7/20 and 34 no v England Port Elezabeth WC 2003 : In easily one of the finest individual efforts in a world cup game, Andy Bichel was unplayable on a seaming pitch at Port Elezabeth as England reached 204/8 batting first and Bichel took 7/20 !! His unplayable deliveries to Vaughan, Hussain and Stewart(46) took the heart out of English batting. It was seam bowling at its brilliant best . England however fought back hard and Australia were staring at defeat at 135/8 when Bichel ,the batsman joined Bevan in a brilliant matchwinning stand in extreme pressure. Bevan scored 74no and Bichel 34no off 36 balls with 3 fours and 1 six to take Aussies to a gripping 2 wicket win from which they never looked back for the rest of the 2003 World Cup.
Ashis Nehra ( India) 6/23 v England at Durban WC 2003 : Chasing 251 for victory England batting was subjected to a seaming and bouncing pitch under lights as Ashish Nehra bowled with fire and hostility moving the ball around at lively pace and picked up the leading English batsmen with unplayable deliveries in the best ever bowling show by an Indian in a World cup game. England batting had no answers and crashed to 82 run defeat.
Sachin Tendulkar (India): 98 off 75 balls v Pakistan at Centurion WC 2003: In another tense Indv Pak encounter , chasing 274 for win Tendulkar came out all guns blazing and his uppercut six off Shoaib Akthar’s 150kph thunderbolt over third man rattled Pakistan’s famed pace bowling attack . Tendulkar’s spectacular knock of 98 off 75 balls with 12 fours and 1 six against one of the best bowling attacks remained one of the finest innings by an Indian in World cup for its sheer quality of strokeplay , quality of opposition and the match situation. Based on Sachin’s foundation Dravid and Yuvraj completed India’s fabulous win over their arch rivals to progress to super six stage .
Ricky Ponting (Australia): 140no off 121 balls V India Johannesburg WC final 2003 : Batting first the Aussies were off to a great start and Ponting coming at 3 took batting to a different level with an awesome innings of 140 notout off 120 balls with 4 fours and 8 sixes. He totally annihilated the Indian bowling attack with exceptional strokeplay and settled the result beyond doubt before India even batted. India never recovered from the impact of Ponting’s innings and lost the finals by 125 runs.
Adam Gilchrist (Australia) 149 off 104 balls v SriLanka , Bridgetown WC final 2007: One of the finest World Cup innings against a quality bowling attack of Vaas, Malinga, Fernando and Muralidharan in a rain curtailed final. Greatest example of lethal strokeplay with 13 fours and 8 sixes which completely destroyed SriLanka’s plans. The drives, cuts ,pulls were played with savage power. Though Australia finally won by Duckworth Lewis method by 53 runs , Gilchrist ‘s innings ensured that Australia did not lose much sleep in target calculations and won their 3rd successive title .
Yuvraj Singh (India) 57 no , 2/44 v Australia Ahmedabad WC QF 2011: World cup quarterfinal must win match . Aussies batted 1st and scored 260 with Yuvraj bowling economically taking the important wickets of Haddin and Micheal Clarke in his full quota of 10 overs. In their chase India lost wickets at crucial moments and at 187/5 Yuvraj was joined by Suresh Raina- the last recognized batting pair with 74 to get in 12 overs. Yuvraj batted skillfully in a tense situation , kept a determined Australian bowling attack at bay and finished the game with 57no off 65 balls with 8 fours. His allround show took India to semifinals.
Gautam Gambhir (India) 97 off 122 balls v SriLanka at Mumbai WC final 2011 : India chasing a big score of 274 in a World cup final lost both openers at 2/31 and the whole crowd was silenced. However Gambhir kept his nerve ,played a responsible innings , as a senior partner forged crucial stands with Kohli and then with Dhoni before a rush of blood made him lose his wicket with 3 short of a great 100. However by then India were cruising and Dhoni (91no)completed the match with a six and India won their 2nd World Cup title. Had Gambhir not held the innings together at start ,India would have struggled to beat SriLanka in a high tension atmosphere of a World Cup final.
Martin Guptill (New Zealand) 237 off 163 balls v West indies at Wellington WC QF 2015: Absolute carnage at Wellington in a crucial quarterfinal match as Guptill tore apart the Windies bowling attack to post a savage double century with an astounding strike rate of 145 with 24 fours and 11 sixes. A pretty decent West Indies bowling attack had no clue how to bowl to Guptill in this spectacular form. The win was never in doubt through Gayle tried to match Guptill’s knock but once he was dismissed for 61 off 33 balls the Windies fell apart in their chase of a mammoth 393 target and the black caps reached the semis.