|The first three cricket World Cup tournaments were sponsored by Prudential Assurance Company.|
The First Day: The World Cup began on 7 June 1975 with four matches played at the English grounds of Lord’s, Edgbaston, Headingley and Old Trafford.
All the four winning teams on that day put up half-century opening partnerships, and all four of these sides - England, New Zealand, Australia and the West Indies - eventually advanced to the semi-finals. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, lost 8 wickets before they reached fifty.
It was a day of contrasting fortunes for the captains. New Zealand skipper Glenn Turner hit up an unbeaten 171, which was to remain the highest score in the World Cup until Indian captain Kapil Dev eclipsed it in 1983. But Sri Lankan skipper Anura Tennekoon had the mortification of registering the first duck of the World Cup. East Africa captain Harilal Shah was also dismissed for a duck on that opening day.
Another hundred was hit up on this historic occasion by England opener Dennis Amiss who scored 137.
To complete a splendid picture there was a five-wicket haul too, by legendary Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee who bagged five for 34 off his 12 overs. West Indies left-arm seamer Bernard Julien, though, earned the distinction of bagging the first four-wicket haul as he took four for 20.
Sunny paradox: One of the most inexplicable batting displays came on the very first day of the World Cup in 1975. Sunil Gavaskar, the little master, batted through the 60 overs of the Indian innings and returned unbeaten with 36 in a total of 132 for three, having faced 174 balls. Quite a pleasant surprise, then, that this peerless Test opener hit up a century off just 85 balls against New Zealand in 1987. This was at that time the second-fastest century in the World Cup, close behind West Indies skipper Clive Lloyd’s hundred off 82 deliveries in the 1975 final. This is not the only oddity about Gavaskar’s World Cup forays. Even though he fared disastrously with the bat in the triumphant 1983 campaign, Gavaskar proved to be India’s talisman in the tournament. He scored a grand total of 59 runs (average 9.83), with a highest score of 25. But he was the team’s lucky mascot as it won all the six matches that he played, and lost the two in which he did not appear. For good measure, he pocketed the ball after India upset the all-conquering Caribbean giants in the final.
India’s left-arm spin wizard Bishan Singh Bedi bowled as many as 14 maidens out of the 24 overs that he sent down in the 1975 World Cup.
(Extracts from ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011’ by Indra Vikram Singh. The author can be contacted on email email@example.com).
The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011
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