The ball has been set rolling for the biggest spectacle from the world of cricket- the 50 overs World Cup. This is the 12th World Cup and fifth to be held in England. Before Virat Kohli’s boys take the field on June 5, let’s take a look at some of the most memorable World Cup victories of Team India.

India vs Zimbabwe, Tunbridge Wells, 1983
The Assam Kaziranga University admissions

Despite starting their 1983 World Cup journey with a surprise victory against the tournament favourite West Indies at Old Trafford, India began to lose the plot in between. Two back to back defeats against Australia and West Indies almost threw them out of the tournament. When they faced Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells, it was a do-or-die encounter for them.

Despite this being their first World Cup, Zimbabwe was no pushover. They had already caused a major upset by defeating Australia. After Indian skipper Kapil Dev won the toss and decided to bat, it seemed that a second upset was right on its way. Zimbabwe’s pacer duo Peter Rawson and Kevin Curran breathed fire on a lively track and India was reeling at 17/5.

Captain Kapil Dev, who batted at number six then played perhaps the best one day innings by an Indian. His unbeaten 175 from just 138 balls took India to a fighting total of 266/8. Dev also got ample support from lower order batsmen like Syed Kirmani, Roger Binny and Madan Lal.

Though Zimbabwe put up a good show with the bat, eventually they finished 31 runs short. Kevin Curran after picking up three wickets also shone with the bat. He top scored for his side with a fighting 73. However, in the match there was only one hero- the Indian captain who kept his side alive in the tournament.

India vs England, Old Trafford, 1983

When the tournament started, nobody had expected ‘Kapil’s Devils’ to reach the last four. Now, in the semi-final, they had to take on the hosts England. Bob Willis’s team had played excellent cricket in the tournament so far, winning five out of six matches in group league.
England chose to bat first but some clinical bowling from the Indians got them bundled out for 213. Kapil Dev again led from the front by taking three wickets while Roger Binny and Mohinder Amarnath took two wickets each.

Gavaskar and Srikkanth built the foundation for the chase with a 46 run opening stand. Some solid batting from the middle order- Mohinder Amarnath (46), Yashpal Sharma (61) and Sandeep Patil (51 not out) got India home with more than five overs remaining. Patil’s fifty came off just 32 balls and he ensured that India went across the finishing line. Jimmy Amarnath won the Man of the Match award for his all round performance.

India vs West Indies, Lords, 1983

India had beaten West Indies quite a few times in limited overs that season, including once in group stage in this tournament. Despite that, nobody really thought that India has any remote chance of upsetting Clive Lloyd’s plan of lifting the World Cup for the third consecutive time from the Lord’s balcony.
West Indies won the toss and unleashed their four speedsters- Roberts, Garner, Marshall and Holding on the hapless Indian batsmen. Gavaskar who was having a poor tournament fell early to Roberts. However, his opening partner Srikkanth swung his bat merrily for quickfire 38, which incidentally became India’s top score in that innings. Indian batsmen, who followed, however failed to put much resistance and their innings was skittled for 183. Amarnath (26) and Patil (27) tried to put some resistance which was not enough.

The mighty Caribbean batting line up was expected to reach the total without breaking much sweat. However, Indians managed to draw first blood when Balwinder Sandhu castled Gordon Greenidge. Medium pacers Madan Lal and Sandhu emerged as wreckers-in-chief by removing the cream of West Indies batting. Viv Richards started showing signs of becoming dangerous with a quickfire 33 but an outstanding catch from Kapil Dev in the outfield ended his stint. Amarnath then cleaned up the lower order returning with excellent figures of 3/12 in 7 overs. And when he trapped Michael Holding lbw, the moment arrived which changed Indian cricket forever.

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India vs Pakistan, Sydney, 1992

India and Pakistan didn’t face each other in the first four editions of the World Cup. In all the four editions, these two sub-continent giants were placed in different pools. However, in 1992, the format was different. There were nine teams and every team had to face each other in a round robin format.
India’s start in the tournament was disastrous. They lost against England and Australia by margin as narrow as 9 and 1 run respectively. With their next game against Sri Lanka called off due to rain, India was yet to open their account at the points table. Pakistan was comparatively better placed with one win, one loss and one rain marred encounter.

ind vs pakistan 1992 photo credit getty images – The News Mill

Most iconic image of this memorable match is that of Pakistan’s ace batsman Javed Miandad jumping in the air to mock Indian wicket keeper Kiran More’s relentless appealing behind the stump. While More took the incident on his stride, Miandad was warned by umpire.

Batting first, India managed to reach a fighting total of 216/7 in 49 overs. Young Sachin Tendulkar batting at number five, top scored with an unbeaten 54 while there were important contributions from Ajay Jadeja (46) and Kapil Dev (35). For Pakistan, leggie Mushtaq Ahmed took 3 wickets.

Pakistan got an early blow when Kapil Dev got opener Inzamam-Ul-Haq lbw. They could never recover from it and continued losing wickets at regular interval. Barring Aamer Sohail who top scored with 62 and Miandad’s 40, none of the Pakistani batsman could cross 20. They were eventually bowled out for 173 in 48.1 overs. Tendulkar after shining with the bat, did well the ball as well….picking up the wicket of dangerous Aamer Sohail. He was adjudged the Man of the Match.

India vs Pakistan, Bangalore, 1996

The second quarter-final was easily the most high voltage match of 1996 World Cup. Pakistan however was on backfoot before the first delivery was bowled when their captain Wasim Akram pulled out of the match due to an injury.

ind vs pak 1996 – The News Mill

Batting first, Indian batsmen provided ample entertainment to the capacity crowd at Chinwaswamy stadium. While most batsmen like Tendulkar, Kambli and skipper Azhar failed to convert their starts, it was opener Navjot Sidhu who stitched the innings together with a fantastic 93. However, India reached the huge total of 287/8 thanks to a blinder from Ajay Jadeja. Jadeja scored 45 from just 25 balls, being particularly severe on Waqar Younis.

Pakistani openers went all guns blazing taking the team past 80 in just 10 overs. However, Srinath struck the first blow by dismissing dangerous Saeed Anwar (48). Acting skipper Aamer Sohail, who was in great form engaged in a war of words with Indian pacer Venkatesh Prasad. Sohail after hitting a boundary, pointed Prasad towards the cover boundary. However, Prasad had a great comeback in front of his home crowd. Uprooting Sohail’s off stump with his next delivery, the lanky medium pacer asked Sohail to ‘get out.’

Prasad crippled the Pakistani batting line up by dismissing Ijaz Ahmed and Inzamam Ul Haq in quick succession. Old warhorses Javed Miandad and Salim Malik tried to give a fight but Anil Kumble took the match beyond them by picking up three wickets. Pakistan eventually finished at 249/9 in 49 overs. Sidhu was adjudged Man of the Match for his gem of an innings while India reached semi-final.

India vs Sri Lanka, Taunton, 1999

The last time these two subcontinent neighbours had faced each other in a World Cup game, had resulted in heartbreak for the Indians. The world remembered the image of Vinod Kambli breaking down after match referee adjudged Sri Lanka winner in that fateful semi-final after Kolkata crowd went berserk at the stands.
Four years later in England, Kambli was absent. However defending champion Sri Lanka had retained most of their players from 1996. India after losing their first two games against South Africa and Zimbabwe were on knock out mode- they had to win all their remaining games to qualify for Super Six.

Winning the toss, Sri Lanka sent India in under overcast conditions in Taunton. They also managed to draw the first blood when Chaminda Vaas clean bowled opener Sadagopan Ramesh. Dravid joined Ganguly in the middle and what followed was some of the most exquisite strokeplay ever seen.

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The duo put on a record partnership of 318, a world record at that time. Dravid, who once was admonished for his slow batting in ODIs was at his savage best, scoring 145 off just 129 balls. Ganguly, on the other hand, hit 183 off 145 balls, his last 83 coming in only 39 balls. In the process, he also surpassed Kapil Dev to put up the highest individual score by an Indian in ODIs.

Chasing 373/6, the second best ODI total at that time, Sri Lanka was never in the chase. They lost both their openers within 5 overs and eventually were bowled out for 216. All rounder Robin Singh picked up 5/31, his second five wicket haul in his career. Interestingly his other fiver also came against the islanders, in an ODI at Guwahati in 1997.

This victory boosted India’s chances of going to the next round while it more or less ended the tournament for the defending champion Sri Lanka. Finally, the ghost of Kolkata had been exorcised.

India vs Pakistan, Old Trafford, 1999

An India-Pakistan encounter has always been the host hyped up game in the tournament. However, in 1999, the ongoing war between the two countries at Kargil gave the match another dimension.
Pakistan was the team of the tournament so far. Barring one mysterious defeat against Bangladesh, they were on a roll. India on the other hand, started poorly, but managed to find a berth in the Super Six by winning their last three league games.

ind vs sri lanka 1999 world cup photo credit getty images – The News Mill

The match didn’t start in the best way possible for India. Their in-form opener Ganguly opted out of the match because of a freak injury. Sachin Tendulkar, hadn’t fired in the tournament so far, barring an emotional hundred against Kenya. However, returning as an opener, he took the attack to the Pakistanis from the first over. Looking set for a big score, he fell for 45 while trying to loft Azhar Mahmood over mid off. Rahul Dravid, the best batsman in the tournament, held the innings together with a solid 61. Skipper Azhar, who was woefully out of form in the tournament, found some groove and scored 59. India finished at 227/6, a fighting total on the seaming deck of Manchester.

Four years back, Venkatesh Prasad had crippled Pakistani batting at Chinwaswamy stadium. He again returned as their tormentor, this time coming up with career best bowling figure of 5/27. His partner Javagal Srinath picked up three wickets as well, thus making the annihilation of Pakistan complete.

Pakistan was bowled out for 180 at 45.3 overs. Prasad was adjudged the man of the match, perhaps the most memorable moment in the career of this gentle Kannadiga.

india vs pak 1999 photo credit twitter – The News Mill

India vs Pakistan, Centurion, 2003

After the Kargil War, relation between India and Pakistan deteriorated. This led to snapping of cricketing ties between both countries. They had faced each other for the last time in an Asia Cup game at Dhaka in 2000. Now, when the two teams were placed in the same pool in 2003 World Cup, excitement of fans hit through the roof. On March 1, all roads led to Supersport Park at Centurion.
India had a young team and barring the seniors like Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Kumble and Srinath, none of the players had any idea of an India-Pakistan match. Pakistan team was better off in this regard- their team was much more experienced.

However, in the tournament, India was certainly better off. Barring one loss against Australia, they had won all other games and had already proceeded to next round. Pakistan, on the other hand, was staring at elimination and had to win this game to keep them in the race.

Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat. For the first time in the tournament, their batsmen got their act together. India’s old nemesis Saeed Anwar, top scored with a superb 101, with adequate support from Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan and Rashid Latif.

Pakistan, with a pace attack comprising of Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar and Waqar Younis were confident of defending this total. They had no idea that they were going to face a tornado called Tendulkar.

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Tendulkar, perhaps played one of his most memorable one day innings. He took Akhtar early, scoring 18 off his first over. The ‘Little Master’ got one reprieve when he was dropped by Abdul Razzaq off Akram. Barring that, he was completely in control.

Pakistani got one chance to get back in the match when their skipper Waqar Younis dismissed Sehwag and Ganguly in consecutive deliveries. But an out of form Mohd Kaif, promoted up in the order, added a valuable 102 runs for 3rd wicket with Tendulkar and that practically shut the door for Pakistanis. Tendulkar, who started struggling with cramps midway in his innings, was eventually dismissed just two short of a well deserved hundred. In the past, he had to bear the ignominy of seeing his teammates fail him. But Rahul Dravid (46 not out) and Yuvraj Singh (50 not out) said ‘Not Today’ and took the team to victory.

India vs Australia, Ahmedabad, 2011

Australia had established their monopoly on World Cup cricket. Playing at home turf, the onus was on Indians to stop the Aussies from becoming world champions for fourth consecutive time. Expectedly, huge hype was created for this quarter-final match between two cricketing giants.
Electing to bat first, Australia made a fighting total of 260/6 in 50 overs. Aussies skipper Ricky Ponting, who had demolished Indian attack in the 2003 World Cup final at Wanderers, once again led from the front with a superb hundred. However, apart from Brad Haddin (53), none of the other batsmen could provide adequate support to their captain.

While Sehwag fell cheaply, India was kept in the hunt by half centuries from Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir. However, at one stage, it looked India was 187/5, it looked Australia might be getting back in the game.

Yuvraj Singh (57 not out) foiled any such possibilities though. Along with Suresh Raina (34 not out), Singh, who was in the form of his life, took the match out of grasp of the Aussies. Australians tried hard, especially Brett Lee, who even shed some blood on the field. But this was not their game.

India vs Sri Lanka, Mumbai, 2011

In a hard fought World Cup, the two best teams of the tournament faced each other in the final. India and Sri Lanka, both were co-hosts of this tournament and had played excellent cricket throughout the tournament.

Electing to bat first at Wankhede, Sri Lanka had a poor start. Opener Upul Tharanga fell to Zaheer Khan in the 6th over. However, in form Dilshan (33) and Sangakkara (48) gave the islanders a solid foundation which was capitalized by Mahela Jayawardena. Jayawardena, scored a brilliant 103 not out, which can be called one of the better knocks seen in a world cup knock out match. With good support from the lower order, Sri Lanka finished at 274/6 in 50 overs.

India had a bad start to the chase. Pacer Lasith Malinga, spew venom with the ball, dismissing both openers early.

However, two Delhi walas took charge of the situation with a 83 run partnership. Gautam Gambhir had been in great form throughout the tournament and he apparently had saved his best for the last. On the other hand, young Virat Kohli also came up with a very important cameo of 35 under pressure.

After Kohli was dismissed by Dilshan, rather than sending the in-form Yuvraj, skipper Dhoni himself came out. Dhoni didn’t have a good tournament with the bat but he promoted himself in the order because he wanted to negate the spin trio of Sri Lanka- Murali, Randiv and Dilshan. In hindsight, this turned out to be a master-stroke as the partnership between Gambhir and Dhoni threw Sri Lanka out of the game. Unfortunately, Gambhir fell just three runs short of his hundred but Dhoni took his team across the victory line, with a huge six off Nuwan Kulasekara. India won the World Cup again after 28 years and it was the Indian captain who led from the front with a magnificent 91 not out.

Nabarun Guha
About Nabarun Guha


Nabarun Guha is a freelance journalist based in Guwahati


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