Friday, May 30, 2014

The Cricket World Cup - Classic Matches…..6 : Excerpt from ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011’ by Indra Vikram Singh


Australia v West Indies (semi-final)  • PCA Stadium, 
Mohali (Day/Night), 14 March 1996

West Indies were unlikely semi-finalists, Australia the favourites. Even in decline the West Indies were not a team to be trifled with. An extra effort from someone could tilt the balance. That effort, at the outset, came from the Caribbean pacemen.

Curtly Ambrose began ominously with a huge in-swinger that drew a gasp all around. Next ball, the prolific Mark Waugh was trapped leg-before, hopelessly late on his elegant defensive stroke. Brian Lara dropped Mark Taylor in the slips off Ian Bishop. But Taylor edged a Bishop delivery on to the stumps in the fourth over. Two down for 7, and only one run from the bat. That was off the dropped catch. Ricky Ponting was stranded in front of the sticks by another Ambrose special. Three down for 8 off 4.5 overs. Bishop had the resolute Steve Waugh’s bails flying. It was disaster at 15 for four after 9.1 overs.

Stuart Law and Michael Bevan dug in as Courtney Walsh bowled a thrifty spell. The wicket lost its bite, so did the bowling. Rookie Otis Gibson was hit for 13 runs in two overs. The pressure eased. The pair posted 138 in 32 overs, Australian fifth-wicket World Cup record. Law was run out for 72. As often happens, Bevan left soon for 69. Ian Healy hit 31 off 28 balls. But a score of 207 did not seem enough.

Despite the early loss of makeshift opener Courtney Browne off Shane Warne's first delivery, left-handers Shivnaraine Chanderpaul and Lara batted untroubled, keeping pace with the asking-rate. Lara was in sparkling form, scoring 45 at a run-a-ball and carving out four boundaries. He got a beauty from Steve Waugh that dislodged the off bail. The stand was worth 68 runs in 16.5 overs. Skipper Richie Richardson filled the breach admirably. Chanderpaul got cramps. Soon Glenn McGrath had him caught for 80 off 126 balls with 7 fours. Another 43 were required off 50 balls.

Dew had begun to fall as the evening wore on. McGrath had Roger Harper leg-before. Skipper Taylor pulled out his last trick, Shane Warne. Gibson was promoted to hit out but Warne was too wily. Even the unflappable Jimmy Adams could not bear the pressure. The fabled Warne flipper fooled him. Keith Arthurton, woefully out of touch, had collected two runs in four innings. He was far too nervous, swung wildly at Damien Fleming, edged to a jubilant Healy, and failed to add to his miserable tally. With 20 required off 14 balls, Richardson had just nine, ten and jack for company. Warne’s perfectly pitched flipper in the 49th over left Bishop clueless.

Warne grabbed three wickets for 6 runs in his third spell of 3 overs. He recounted later: "I was really pumped up. When we got Chanderpaul we knew we had a very good chance. It is important to bowl a tight line and length under the circumstances rather than spin the ball prodigiously."

West Indies needed 10 runs in the final over with two wickets left. Richardson blasted the first ball to the mid-wicket boundary. Excitement reached fever pitch. There were six runs to win off 5 balls. Surely the captain would see them through. But this was not a situation for rational acts. As the ball streaked to the wicketkeeper, Ambrose took off for a single and just failed to make it. Six to get off 4 balls. The role did not suit last man Walsh. Richardson watched helplessly. Fleming, accurate and nippy, made the ball skid. Walsh had no idea what he was supposed to do. Before he could decide, the ball crashed into his stumps. Australia had conjured another of cricket’s legendary tales. West Indies were in control for 91 overs. They did not know how to handle the final nine.

Australia        : 207 for 8 wickets (50 overs)
West Indies    : 202 all out (49.3 overs)

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011

ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3

Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Phones + 91 11 23417175, 23412567

Available in leading bookshops, and online on several websites.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Cricket World Cup - Classic Matches…..5 : Excerpt from ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011’ by Indra Vikram Singh


Australia v India  •  Woolloongabba, Brisbane, 
1 March 1992

The winners of the last two World Cups did not begin the present tournament on a happy note. Australia, who started as one of the fancied teams, were beaten by New Zealand and South Africa to the dismay of the home crowds. India lost narrowly to England, and a supposedly easy match against Sri Lanka was washed out.

Both teams were, therefore, eager to register a win at the Gabba. The Australians elected to bat. But they were jolted by Kapil Dev as he removed both openers Geoff Marsh and Mark Taylor with just 31 on the board. David Boon and Dean Jones settled down to a fine partnership. They added 71 for the third wicket. Jones hit a typical 90 off 108 balls, characterised by hard running and flashing shots. He crashed 6 fours and 2 sixes. He explained his approach: "I try to come across as a player who enjoys the game and has a good time. The kids who see that will want to play the game as well. If you are full-on aggressive it gets through to people." Steve Waugh and Tom Moody also made valuable contributions. Then the Indian medium-pacers led by Manoj Prabhakar got into the swing of things. From 230 for five, Australia slumped to 237 for nine at the end of their 50 overs.

It was then that a flawed rule regarding interruption of play by rain began to cast a shadow over the tournament. As the weather gods intervened, three overs were lopped off the Indian innings, but the target score was reduced by only two runs. The reasoning behind this absurd rule was that while deducting the number of overs, the ones to be taken into account were those in which the team batting first had scored the least number of runs. So going through the scoring pattern of the Aussies it was found that in the three overs that they had scored the least, a sum total of two runs had accrued. This rule was to provoke much derisive laughter and anguish later in the tournament. Conventional logic, taking average scoring-rate into consideration, would have reduced India’s target to 224. But now India's target was 236 off 47 overs.

India made a dismal start as Krish Srikkanth was bowled for a duck. But skipper Mohammad Azharuddin was in prime form. On either side of the rain break, he was helped by Ravi Shastri and Sachin Tendulkar in rebuilding the innings. Kapil Dev, promoted up the order, scored a quick-fire 21. Then Sanjay Manjrekar joined his captain, and the two put on 66 for the fifth wicket.

Azharuddin was run out for a brilliant 93 off 103 balls with ten boundaries. Then the Indian innings began to come unstuck. Ajay Jadeja went for one, and Manjrekar too was run out for 47 off 42 balls with 3 fours and a six. India needed 13 off the final over with three wickets in hand. Strangely, the 6 feet 8 inches non-regular bowler Tom Moody sent down the pulsating last over. Kiran More flicked the first two balls to square-leg for fours. Now five runs were required off four deliveries. More got carried away, missed, and his middle stump broke into two. A single was scampered off the fourth ball. But Prabhakar was run out off the fifth.

Four runs were needed off the last ball. Javagal Srinath swung hard and high but straight to Steve Waugh who dropped the catch. But he recovered quickly and threw the ball back. Venkatapathy Raju was going for the run that would have tied the scores. The throw beat him and Australia won a dramatic match by one run. For the second time in the World Cup, Australia pipped India by this razor-thin margin.

Australia        : 237 for 9 wickets (50 overs)
India               : 234 all out (47 overs)

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011

ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3

Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Phones + 91 11 23417175, 23412567

Available in leading bookshops, and online on several websites.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Cricket World Cup - Classic Matches…..4 : Excerpt from ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011’ by Indra Vikram Singh


Pakistan v West Indies  •  Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, 
16 October 1987

This was a battle royale as the former champions West Indies took on the home team and hot favourites, Pakistan. The West Indies had already lost one of their two encounters, so a victory in this game was crucial. Pakistan had won both their matches, and were looking to maintain their winning streak.

The West Indian openers Desmond Haynes and Phil Simmons seemed aware of their responsibility, as they put on 91 runs. But both were dismissed in quick succession. Simmons hit up a free-scoring half-century in his first outing. Left-armer Salim Jaffer got among the wickets as Richie Richardson and Gus Logie too fell soon. Skipper Vivian Richards stemmed the rot in the company of Carl Hooper in a fifth-wicket stand of 47. Hooper was trapped leg-before by Wasim Akram, who accounted for Jeff Dujon in a similar vein. Richards was dismissed by his opposite number, Imran Khan. Bowling a fine spell, Imran did not let the lower-order prosper. The West Indies were bowled out for 216. Imran finished with four for 37.

Pakistan made heavy weather of the run-chase. They lost Mansoor Akhtar and Salim Malik cheaply before Rameez Raja and Javed Miandad steadied the ship. Then three wickets fell in a heap, with the Pakistan score looking a sorry 110 for five off 35 overs. It seemed an impossible task for the lower half to get the remaining 107 runs at more than seven per over. Wicketkeeper Salim Yousuf took matters in his hands and went for the bowling with gusto. The proverbial luck of the brave favoured him and he was dropped thrice. His belligerent 56 off 49 balls with 7 boundaries gave a ray of hope to the hosts. But wickets began tumbling. At the end of 49 overs the Pakistanis were 203 for nine. Fourteen runs were required off the last six deliveries with Abdul Qadir and Salim Jaffer at the crease, as Courtney Walsh came up to bowl.

Walsh had performed splendidly so far. In nine overs he had captured four important wickets for 26 runs. All he had to do now was to be on target. Qadir took a single off the first ball. Jaffer did likewise off the second. The batsmen scrambled two off the third ball. Ten runs were now required off the last three deliveries. Ones and twos would not do.

Incredibly, Qadir swiped a straight six off the fourth delivery. Four were needed off two balls. Qadir again ran two. Two were now required off the last ball, and the tension was unbearable. Walsh ran up to bowl; Jaffer, in his excitement, backed up too far. Walsh did not deliver and nodded a warning to Jaffer. The truant non-striker returned sheepishly to his crease. Walsh came in again and Qadir swung. The batsmen ran for their lives and completed the two runs needed. Pakistan had won by one wicket off the last ball. Amid scenes of wild jubilation Qadir was the hero of the moment, of perhaps the most dramatic finish in One-day cricket.

But the game had also seen another hero, Courtney Walsh, for his tremendous show of sportsmanship, particularly when the match was poised on a razor’s edge. It is acts such as these that make cricket the great game that it is.

West Indies    : 216 all out (49.3 overs)
Pakistan         : 217 for 9 wickets (50 overs)

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011

ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3

Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Phones + 91 11 23417175, 23412567

Available in leading bookshops, and online on several websites.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Cricket World Cup - Classic Matches…..3 : Excerpt from ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011’ by Indra Vikram Singh


India v West Indies (Final)  •  Lord’s, London, 
25 June 1983

Lord’s was bathed in bright sunshine and ready to crown the undisputed kings of cricket, the West Indies, with yet another title. The conquerors from the Caribbean marshalled by the elder statesman Clive Lloyd had won the first two World Cups, and were poised to make it a hat-trick on this beautiful day against surprise finalists, India.

The Indian World Cup record had been dismal. In two tournaments they had won a total of one match, against lowly East Africa in 1975. In 1983, the Australian captain Kim Hughes had rated the Indians as “dark horses” to win the championship. They sprang a surprise in the opening encounter by inflicting upon the West Indies their first defeat in the World Cup. Then they nearly faltered against Zimbabwe before being bailed out by a Herculean effort from their captain, Kapil Dev. But now in the final they were not expected to take the title away from the reigning champions.

The match began true to form with Andy Roberts and Joel Garner bowling extremely accurately. Garner’s steeply rising deliveries bowled from his great height, were impossible to get away. Soon Sunil Gavaskar fished at one from Roberts and was easily snapped up at the wicket. Krishnamachari Srikkanth dazzled for a while in his customary fashion, and even delighted the crowd with a hooked six off Roberts. He and Mohinder Amarnath put on 57 for second wicket. Then Yashpal Sharma helped Amarnath in a useful stand, and at 90 for two the Indian score bore a healthy look.

Disaster was round the corner as Amarnath was comprehensively bowled by Michael Holding, and Yashpal fell to the gentle off-break of Larry Gomes. Though Sandeep Patil played a useful knock, the innings fell away in the face of some fine bowling by the West Indians. Had it not been for a fighting last-wicket stand between Syed Kirmani and Balwinder Sandhu, the Indian total would have looked even more pitiable than their 183 all out in 54.4 overs.

There was a sensational start to the West Indies innings as Gordon Greenidge shouldered arms to an incoming delivery from Sandhu and was bowled for 1. You could not blame Greenidge, for Sandhu himself thought he had bowled an out-swinger. Instead, the ball came in sharply after hitting the seam. That set the stage for a grand entry by the imperious Vivian Richards. And he batted like the monarch that he often was at the crease.

As he smashed the bowling to all the corners of the hallowed ground, an early West Indies victory looked most likely. Just then he skied Madan Lal high over mid-wicket. Kapil Dev turned and ran after the ball that was rapidly going away from him. After what seemed an eternity the Indian skipper clung on to the prize. The door seemed to have opened for the underdogs. They stuck to their task, bowled tightly, fielded brilliantly and were constantly egged on by their captain. Wickets started tumbling; soon it was 76 for six. Jeff Dujon and Malcolm Marshall hung on for a while, and when the day’s hero Amarnath trapped Holding plumb in front, the sensational upset left everyone dumbfounded. "Now Indian mystics walk through fire", screamed the headline of Tony Lewis' report in The Sunday Telegraph.

And even the diehard Indian fans were stunned by this memorable win.

India               : 183 all out (54.4 overs)
West Indies    : 140 all out (52 overs)

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011

ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3

Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Phones + 91 11 23417175, 23412567

Available in leading bookshops, and online on several websites.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Cricket World Cup - Classic Matches…..2 : Excerpt from ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011’ by Indra Vikram Singh


England v Pakistan  •  Headingley, Leeds, 16 June 1979

This was a key match, for the winners would avoid the mighty West Indies in the semi-finals. Both the teams were on edge, and the pendulum swung from one end to the other as the batsmen struggled for runs.

England were put in to bat and there was excitement from the very start. Skipper Mike Brearley was caught behind second ball off Imran Khan, and Derek Randall was dismissed similarly in the second over sent down by Sikander Bakht. After a brief respite, wickets fell regularly and at 118 for eight, England appeared down and out for the count.

Wicketkeeper Bob Taylor had figured in a few rescue acts over the years, but keeping him company here was the lanky, awkward Bob Willis, hardly known for his prowess with the willow. On this occasion the fast bowler showed that he had the resilience to battle it out in a desperate situation. The Bobs put on 43 runs, which were to prove crucial in the ultimate analysis. Still, a score of 165 in 60 overs could not have inspired much confidence in the hosts.

Pakistan made a comfortable start which provided no hint of the turmoil that was to follow. Mike Hendrick was adept at moving the ball and revelled in home conditions. Ken Barrington put his bowling in perspective: "Most batsmen have no idea how to face him. With the ball starting one way for one ball and the other for the next, it's a lottery for any batsman."

It was time for Hendrick to give further evidence of it. In a truly devastating burst of eight deliveries he left the Pakistan innings in tatters. He removed Majid Khan, Mudassar Nazar, Sadiq Mohammed and Haroon Rashid with only three runs added during this time. Ian Botham soon got into the act, dismissing Javed Miandad and Zaheer Abbas. Pakistan were 34 for six, having lost all these wickets in a space of five overs.

A collapse of such proportions would have destroyed most sides, but the Pakistan team of the 1970s had tremendous depth with the likes of skipper Asif Iqbal, Wasim Raja, Imran Khan and wicketkeeper Wasim Bari occupying the slots from no.7 to no.10. Asif and Raja added 52 priceless runs for the seventh wicket. Then Imran helped his captain put on 29 runs for the next wicket.

Asif departed after playing a responsible knock of 51, spanning 104 balls, with five fours. Another 51 runs were required in 20 overs with two wickets in hand. It was still a difficult task as Imran and Bari put up further resistance. The pair put on 30 runs and the target seemed to be within sight.

In desperation Brearley turned to the innocuous round arm of Geoff Boycott. The Yorkshireman had Bari caught behind and the tide turned yet again. Amid growing excitement, Boycott turned up trumps for the second time as he had last man Sikander Bakht caught by Hendrick. Pakistan fell short by 14 runs with four overs still to be bowled.

It was a keenly fought battle which generated great excitement, a kind of match the crowds always hope for. The real gainer, as they say, was the game of cricket.

England          : 165 for 9 wickets (60 overs)
Pakistan         : 151 all out (56 overs)

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011

ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3

Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Phones + 91 11 23417175, 23412567

Available in leading bookshops, and online on several websites.