World Cup 1996: Gallant SriLanka rides on DSilva’s heroics to win 1st title
The 1996 World Cup was played in India subcontinent with SriLanka being added as the 3rd host this time and the finals slated to be played in Lahore. 12 teams participated with Kenya and Netherlands being the new teams. Contrary to the 1987 event held in Indian subcontinent ,there were lesser close matches this time. Australia and West indies did not play their games vs Srilanka, giving the hosts walkover citing political instability in the island, One game which proved to be exciting in group stage was between India and Australia. Mark Waugh’s 100 helped Aussies to reach 258 and in reply India lost early wickets but a brilliant counter attacking innings by Tendulkar (90) set up the game. However after Tendulkar’s exit India kept losing wickets and fell short by 16 runs. In the 4 quarterfinals, Jayasurya’s breezy 82 off 44 balls crushed England while a brilliant Lara masterclass 94 ball 111 choked the fancied South Africans as they lost by 19 runs. Mark Waugh’s sublime 110 took Australia past a formidable New Zealand score of 287 as India played a high emotion charged QF vs Pakistan at Bangalore. Navjot Sidhu’s 93 and Ajay Jadeja’s high powered 45 off 25 balls took India to a formidable 287. In reply Pakistani openers launched a savage counter attack on Indian bowling till Srinath and Prasad rose to the occasion and dismissed both the openers. Later the Indian spinners go into the act in the middle overs and Pakistan without Wasim Akram in this match lost by 39 runs. In the 1st semis at Kolkata , Aravinda D Silva played a sparkling innings of 66 of 47 balls to put Indian bowling on the sword after both openers went for 0. Srilanka managed 251 and India were cruising with Tendulkar (65) in charge till he was out to a legside stumping off Jayasurya with balls spinning and keeping low. The latter half of Indian batting fell apart and at 120/8 the crowd got into the act and the match was abandoned and awarded to Srilanka who reached finals. West indies in the other semis were in control against Australia reducing them to 10/4 in powerplay till Bevan(69) and Stuart Law(72) stabilized the innings to take the Aussies to 207. In reply the Windies were in control with Chandrapaul (80) and Lara(45) in total domination. However with the win in sight the Carribeans lost their head as Shane Warne ripped through the middle order with 4/34 and West indies lost 8 for 37 to lose by 5 runs in a sensational finish with skipper Richardson stranded at 49 notout. The final was played at Lahore and Australia batting first were restricted by tight Srilankan spinners and could get no more than 241 with Dsilva taking 3/42 . After a poor start to their chase Aravinda DSilva played another masterclass of 107 not out with strong support from Gurusinha (65) and skipper Ranatunge (47no) saw Srilanka through by 7 wickets to taste their first World cup success. One of the striking features of this World Cup was the major success of Srilankan opening pair of Jayasurya and Kaluwitharna, whose aggressive batting in powerplays became the talking point in World cricket. Sachin Tendulkar was the outstanding batsman in this edition with 523 runs at 87 average and 2 centuries .
World Cup 1999: Australia defies all odds to win 2nd title as South Africa chokes after Klusener heroics.
The 1999 event was played in England with 12 teams with supersix concept being introduced for first time. Top 3 teams from each group will go to supersix and also carry the points they acquired against the other teams of their group who also reached supersix. South Africa led by Hansie Cronje proved to be the most fancied team as they poccessed an allround team with strong batting and bowling arsenal. Their strong bowling attack of Donald- Pollock- Kallis-Klusener with Elworthy in the wings decimated SriLanka and England in group matches after defending small targets. Australia led by Steve Waugh struggled in group games and was on verge of elimination when McGrath produced a great spell to rock West indies and the Aussies qualified from group stage as the 3rd team with 1 win and no points carried to supersix stage having lost earlier to New Zealand convincingy and to Pakistan narrrowly. Host England could not qualify for supersix stage as they came across a highly motivated Indian team as Sourav Ganguly’s allround skills—40 runs and 3/27 was enough for India to beat England by 63 runs. Reigning champions SriLanka had a disappointing World cup and were ejected after being thrashed by India by a huge margin after Sourav Ganguly (183) and Rahul Dravid (145) destroyed their bowling. Pakistan , South Africa and New Zealand sailed into supersix with ease and Zimbabwe with Neil Johnson and Flower brothers were having their best World cup and even stunned South Africa and India in group stage. In the supersix the Aussies began to unfurl their true colours against India, as Mcgrath and Fleming combined to reduce India to 17/4 after Mark Waugh 83 powered Australia to 282. Jadeja’s face saving 100 only reduced the defeat margin for India , who however came into their own to beat arch rivals Pakistan convincingly by 47 runs in a tense contest at Manchester. However India’s glee was shortlived as they were convincingy beaten by the kiwis and exited from the event. South Africa had earlier played a thriller vs Pakistan when they looked dead and buried at 58/5 ,then 135/6 chasing 221 but Lance Klusener (46 no off 41 balls with 3 sixes) counterattacked the strong Pakistani bowling in which Shoaib Akhtar was bowling at rapid pace. Pakistan finally succumbled to Klusener’s heroics. The final supersix match between South Africa and Australia proved to be a virtual knockout game for Australia who needed to win to stay in the World cup else Zimbabwe would go to the semis. The game looked to sway towards the Proteas as Gibbs 101 powered them to 271. In reply Aussies were struggling at 48/3 when Ponting (69) and Steve Waugh (120no off 110 balls) forged a match winning stand with Waugh being dropped at 55 by Gibbs to change Australia’s fortunes conclusively for the World cup . A win in a thrilling run chase backed by Waugh masterclass with 2 balls remaining took the Aussies to the semis where they again met the same opposition in a match for the ages. Pollock (5/36) and Donald (4/32) ensured to keep Australia to within 213 in semis. In reply the match went into a roller coaster ride with South Africa forging a partnership and Aussies breaking it with Shane Warne (4/29) making it tighter for he Proteas. Once again it was Klusener who counterattacked with 31notout off 16 balls and with 9 needed to win and 1 wicket standing thrashed Fleming twice to extra cover boundary . However soon Klusener lost his head and attempted a suicidial single with still 2 balls to go. Donald was runout , match was tied and South Africans were gutted. The Aussies by virtue of their win in last game against same opposition reached the finals. Pakistan in other semis, buoyed by Saeed Anwar’s 113no thrashed New Zealand by 9 wickets to enter their 2nd final which proved to be an anti climax as the Aussies steamrollered Pakistan for 132 helped by another Warne special (4/33) and then powered by Adam Gilchrist’s powerpacked 54 off 36 balls won by 8 wickets to win their 2nd title after fighting heavy odds along the way. Lance Klusener was the player of this World cup with 281 runs at 140 average and 122 strike rate and 17 wickets at 21 average. Outstanding figures with many match winning efforts !!
World Cup 2003: Aussies are the undisputed kings
The 8th World Cup was held in South Africa with matches played in Zimbabwe and Kenya. 14 Teams played in this World Cup. Hosts South Africa had the easier draw with SriLanka, New Zealand and West indies in their group as Australia, England, India and Pakistan were loaded in other group. South Africa started their campaign in a disappointing note narrowly losing to West Indies by 3 runs as Brian Lara piled on their agony with another 100. Australia were big favourites to retain the trophy but they had the worst possible start with their star performer Shane Warne sent back home for testing positive for prohibited drugs hours before their group game vs Pakistan. However the great team that they were, they managed to avert the initial crisis as well as a shaky start vs Pakistan with Andrew Symonds playing a powerpacked innings of 143 to put Pakistan under the pump from which they could not recover. Aussies went on to destroy India by 9 wkts and swept away all other opposition before they faced England in a cracker of a match. England were restricted to 205 by brilliant bowling from Andy Bichel(7/20) and in reply the Aussies were tottering at 135/8 before Micheal Bevan (72no) and Andy Bichel (34no) combined to take Australia home. India after their disappointment vs Australia gathered themselves to thrash England by 82 runs with Ashis Nehra producing a fine exhibition of pace and movement to get 6/23. India then went on to beat Pakistan by 6 wickets at Centurion in a high octane clash . After Saeed Anwar with his 101 powered Pakistan to 270 ,Indian openers Sachin and Sehwag matched each other stroke for stroke to decimate a serious fast bowling attack of Wasim ,Waqar and Shoaib Akhtar . Sachin played an awesome innings of 98 off 75 balls and murdered the Pakistan attack from which they never recovered as Dravid and Yuvraj applied the finishing touches in a superb win to ensure India’s spot into supersix along with Australia. Kenya proved to be a surprise package and with their wins over Srilanka and Bangladesh moved to supersix. However South Africa was again painfully cut short by Duckeorth Lewis as in 1992. After Attapattu (124) and Desilva (73) combined to take them to 268 , the home time needed 230 in 45 overs for their revised target. However some gross miscalculations by their management misled Mark Boucher(45no) to take only a single off last ball and South Africa’s immediate joy turned into heart break soon after when the final result was declared. In the supersixes the Aussies buoyed by Gilchrist (99) and Ponting (114) hammered Srilanka. Kenya briefly scared India before Sourav Ganguly’s 100 prevented a upset. India also beat the Kiwis after Shane Bond scared them with a scorching opening spell. Bond further tormented the mighty Aussies with 6/23 in a battle of fast bowlers before Lee (5/42) and McGrath (3/29) demolished the kiwis to reach semis. Both India and Australia had relatively easy semi finals with Srilanka( to Australia) and Kenya (to India) losing convincingly . The finals proved to be a one sided affair with Gilchrist(57),Ponting (144 no with 8 sixes) and Martyn(88no) mauled the Indian bowling to post a huge 359/2 and once India lost in form Tendulkar in 1st over ,there was no looking back for the Aussies. Sehwag (82) tried to make amends but it was too little too late and Australia got their 4th title after winning by 125 runs. Tendulkar’s 673 runs at 61 average was the outstanding performance of this World cup but it was a poor compensation for the great man whose priority was World cup title.