The ICC World Cup is the fourth-largest sports event globally. Held once every four years, the major cricket event is watched by billions of fans from around the globe. The massive event is televised and broadcasted by over numerous broadcast partners across different regions. According to ICC, the 2019 World Cup amassed a cumulative average audience of approximately 1.6 billion viewers.
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The first ICC World Cup took place in 1975. Ever since then, there have been 11 editions of the prestigious events, each of which has provided fans of the game with tons of memorable and surprising innings. Here is a detailed look at some of the innings in World Cup history that astonished fans:
India vs. West Indies (1983 World Cup)
India won their first-ever World Cup trophy by defeating West Indies at the Lord’s in the finals of the 1983 World Cup. The match is considered one of the most iconic matches for numerous reasons, but especially for the great second innings, where the Indian team showcased top-tier sportsmanship and skills.
West Indies won the toss and decided to bowl first. Their lineup consisted of star pacers like Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Michael Holding, and Malcolm Marshall. All of them bowled exceptional spell. As a result, India’s batsmen could only put a not-so-decent target of 184 runs. There was little hope of India turning the match around since the target was too small, considering the fact that the opponents had exceptional batsmen like Sir Vivian Richards and Clive Lloyd.
However, no one expected the way the Indian bowlers outperformed every West Indian batter by bowling outstanding deliveries in the second innings. Sir Vivian Richards amassed a quick personal score of 33 runs but returned to the pavilion when he mistimed a hook shot and got caught by the Indian skipper, Kapil Dev. Madan Lal turned the tide of the game by dismissing the star player. After that, it all went downhill for West Indies as their batsmen kept faltering one after the other. The iconic second innings and the match came to an end when West Indies got all out after just putting up 140 runs on the board. The match is still vivid in the minds of cricket fans all around the globe, primarily because of the Indian team’s brilliant comeback.
Australia vs. South Africa (1999)
One of the most thrilling matches to ever take place in the World Cup that is etched in fans’ memory is the 1999 Cricket World Cup semi-final between Australia and South Africa. Australia batted first and set up a decent target of 213 for their opponents. South Africa’s batsmen had a decent start in the second innings, but things started looking dreary when the team’s scoreboard read 176-6.
However, Lance Klusener, the talented all-rounder from the Proteas’ side, changed the game’s momentum by hitting big shots. In just 14 deliveries, he scored 31 runs and tied the score at 212, leaving the requirement for just one more run with four balls left to spare. It seemed like a sure-shot win for the South-African side, but destiny had other plans.
Klusener hit a decent drive shot and decided to take a single. However, confusion broke out, and the last man, Allan Donald got run out. Australia tied the game, and thanks to their better rank on the Super Six table’s net run-rate category, the team representing the “Land Down Under” won the match and proceeded to the finals of the 1999 World Cup.
New Zealand vs. Australia (1992 World Cup)
Even back in the day, Australia was considered one of the strongest teams participating in the World Cup, thanks to their roster consisting of top-tier players. In the 1992 World Cup, fans from all around the globe were rooting for the team. However, the players of New Zealand put up an impressive show of skills and defeated the side of Australia in a match where the former had the home ground advantage.
New Zealand was batting first with an objective to put up a massive total for the Aussies. However, the Kiwis’ hopes took a hit when they lost three wickets after putting up a mere 53 runs on the board. Every Kiwi fan had lost hope when Martin Crowe came in and showed the world what top-tier batting means.
He scored an unbeaten 100, after which the scoreboard read 248-6. His fellow teammate Ken Rutherford added 118 runs to the board and finished the innings by putting up a humongous total for the Australian side. Even though Australia tried their best to chase the target, their efforts went in vain after David Boon, the star batsman who scored a century, was sent back to the pavilion. Avid cricket fans still remember the first innings by New Zealand as one of the most surprising innings of all time. By winning the game, New Zealand qualified for the semis but lost to Pakistan, who went on to win the 1992 World Cup.
With the 2023 World Cup right around the corner, fans are eagerly waiting to witness similar mesmerizing innings by their favorite teams. Only time will tell what surprising moments the upcoming World Cup holds for the ardent cricket fans.