Top 25 World Cup Matches (Part 3 – 15-11)

June 26, 2019

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We are back with the third part of the series, ‘Top 25 World Cup Matches’. Read about another five interesting encounters as the 2019 Cricket World Cup unfolds more mesmerizing moments. You can read part one and part two here.

15 | June, 1999, Australia vs South Africa, Super Six, Leeds

Before the last match of the super six stage, Australia were with just four points and required a win to qualify for the semi-final. South Africa batted first and posted 271/7 in their 50 over. Herschelle Gibbs scored a brilliant 101 and was supported by Daryll Cullinan who scored 50. Jonty Rhodes (39) and player-of-the-tournament Lance Klusener (36 off 21) also made valuable contributions. For Australia, Damien Fleming took three for 57 and Shane Warne finished with a couple of wickets.

Warne had a habit of surprising people with the accuracy of his prediction. In the team meeting before that match against South Africa, Warne asked them to keep an eye on Herschelle Gibbs who had a tendency to start celebrating for a catch even before getting hold of the ball completely. In such cases, the batsman should hold his ground.

Australia did not have a good start. When the captain Steve Waugh came to bat they were struggling on 48/3. Waugh was not in a great form but he tried to build a partnership with Ricky Ponting. They crossed the 100 run partnership and with 152/3 on board the most dramatic thing happened. Waugh was batting on 56. Klusener bowled, Steve’s flick was mistimed, the ball went to short mid-wicket where Gibbs was fielding, Gibbs caught the ball and within few seconds the ball was on the floor. Even the commentators mentioned that Waugh was out before changing the version. Replays showed that Gibbs was trying to celebrate by throwing the ball up even before being in full control of the ball and that’s where the mishap happened. Waugh took that chance with both hands, scored an unbeaten century and took Australia to a five-wicket victory.

That win not only took Australia to the semi-final but it also pushed them to the second position, just above South Africa by net run rate.

14 | February 2015, Afghanistan vs Scotland, Group stage, Dunedin

One of the best matches of the 2015 World Cup was played between the two lesser teams Scotland and Afghanistan. Scotland were playing their third World Cup and Afghanistan were featuring in their first. Both teams were looking for their first ever win in the World Cup and the match was expected to become a well-contested one. However, no one expected the match to become as competitive as it was.

Afghanistan won the toss and decided to field first. Their bowlers were on the money as Scotland were all out for 210 runs. The opening bowlers Shapoor Zadran and Sawlat Zadran took four and three wickets respectively. From 40/3, some recovery was done by Matt Machan who scored 31. The partnership of 62 runs between Majid Haq (31) and Alasdair Evans (28) was the key for Scotland to take them beyond 200.

Javed Ahmadi gave a good start to Afghanistan as they reached 40 in 7th over. However, they lost Nawroz Mangal and Asghar Afghan in that same over. Samiullah Shinwari joined Ahmadi who scored 51 and perished on the score of 85. Four more wickets fell in next 12 runs and Afghanistan suddenly found them with 97/7 on board. Shinwari was in the crease and he got some support from Dawlat Zadran (9). They added crucial 60 runs with Hamid Hassan for the 9th wicket. Shinwari played brilliantly and looked like he would take his team to victory but with a century in sight he was holed out at the deep. His 96 was one of the best innings in World Cup but Afghanistan were still requiring 19 runs to win from 19 balls.

The 11th player Shapoor Zadran joined Hamid Hassan. They blocked, nudged and nicked to get runs one by one. A boundary from Shapoor on the last ball of the 49th over made it five required off last six. Finally, another Shapoor boundary closed the deal and gave Afghanistan their first World Cup victory by one wicket.

13 | March 2003, India vs Pakistan, Group stage, Centurion

India-Pakistan matches are always dramatic and memorable. The match played between these two teams during the 2003 World Cup was a special match. The match involved some great players and was hyped to the fullest. It was the last match for India in the group league. After an indifferent start, the team came back to form with three back-to-back wins against Zimbabwe, Namibia, and England and they had 16 points from five matches. Pakistan played four matches till then and were with eight points with two wins. It was absolutely essential for Pakistan to win the match but till then the score in the World Cup (3-0) was in favor of India.

Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat first. A brilliant century from Saeed Anwar helped them to put up a score excess of 270. No one else scored more than 35 and Indian bowlers ensured to restrict Pakistan by scalping regular wickets.

But a target close to 5.50 runs per over in those days was challenging. However, Sachin Tendulkar was in a different mood. The first over from Wasim Akram went for nine runs as Tendulkar and Sehwag shared one boundary each. The next over from Shoaib Akhtar was one of the most memorable incidents in World Cup. The fourth ball of the over went to the deep point boundary from a well-executed uppercut from Tendulkar. The next two balls also went for fours and the over went for 18 runs. With 27 runs in the first two overs, India were up for the chase. A key moment came with India on 57/2 when Abdul Razzaq dropped Tendulkar for 32. Tendulkar kept playing his shots and single-handedly took India to within 100 runs of the target. But he started to get a cramp and his policy of refusing runner for himself meant he was visibly struggling. With his score on 98, Tendulkar could not play a Shoaib Akhtar bouncer properly which resulted in a catch at point by Younis Khan. With 97 more required in 22 overs, Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh played brilliantly and ensured that India completed the chase with four overs to spare as Yuvraj reached his fifty in 53 balls as Dravid remained unbeaten on 44.

12 | February 2011, India vs England, Group stage, Bangalore

Till now the men’s World Cup has witnessed four tied matches. The last one was played during the 2011 World Cup and it was a very exciting match for both players and fans. India posted a mammoth 338 in their 50 overs. Sachin Tendulkar scored his 99th International century and The Indian innings was built around the 120 by Tendulkar. Yuvraj Singh scored 58 and Gautam Gambhir 51 to provide support. India lost their last five wickets for just 11 runs and they were actually all out in the 50th over, otherwise, they had the potential to reach 350. In 2011, 338 was still a big total and not many teams were expected to chase it down.

But England started aggressively as both their openers Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen attacked the Indian bowling. By the time Pietersen was gone in the 10th over, England was scoring at more than seven runs per over. The big partnership was developed between Strauss and Ian Bell as they added 170 runs for the third wicket in around 26 overs. On 281/2 they were in the driver’s seat requiring 58 runs off 45 balls. Zaheer Khan was trying tirelessly and finally got both the batsmen out on consecutive deliveries in the 43rd over. England lost Collingwood on 285, Prior on 289 and Yardy on 307. With 32 required off 15, it was anybody’s match.

Finally, the last over started with England requiring 14 runs. Munaf Patel was bowling to Graeme Swann and Ajmal Shahzad. A sequence of 2, 1, 6, 1, 2 resulted in England requiring two runs off the last ball. The pressure was enormous but Munaf bowled a very good delivery which Swann could only push to mid-off and take one run. After a close-fought contest, the match ended in a tie.

11 | February 2015, New Zealand vs Australia, Group stage, Auckland

New Zealand and Australia have played some of the most thrilling matches of the Cricket World Cup but nothing was more entertaining than their 2015 clash which resulted in breathless cricket and high-quality drama.

On a good pitch and condition, Australia won the toss and decided to bat first. Aaron Finch and David Warner started a quick-fire opening partnership and added 30 runs before Finch got out in the third over. Warner and Shane Watson added 50 runs before Watson was dismissed on the last ball of the 13th over. Then Tim Southee got Warner as his second prey. It was a big blow for Australia and soon they collapsed to 106/9 as Trent Boult ran through the lower middle order to finish with five wickets. Thankfully for Australia, Brad Haddin played an outstanding innings of 43 and along with Pat Cummins took Australia to 151.

It was never going to be easy to defend this total but the way, Brendon McCullum started it looked like a cake walk. He scored 50 off just 24 balls and scored runs at almost 10 runs per over. He was dismissed with the team total on 78 and still half of the runs were required. But they were soon 79/4 as Mitchell Starc got Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott on back-to-back deliveries. Williamson and Corey Anderson added 52 runs and with 131/4 only 21 were required. But Maxwell got Anderson on a delivery by Pat Cummins. Then Cummins and Starc came back to take next four wickets for 15 runs. It was the hero of the first innings Boult who joined Kane Williamson and survived the last two balls of Starc’s 9th over who already had six wickets. Williamson did not take any chance and hit the first ball of the next over from Cummins for a six to complete a memorable one-wicket victory in front of the 40,000 strong home supporters.

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Author: Shreyasi Talukdar

A PR person who is chasing her passion for cricket through writing.

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