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27 February 2024

History of the Cricket World Cup: Highs and lows from 1975 to 2011

Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar waves the Indian flag as he celebrates his team's victory during the ICC Cricket World Cup final match between India and Sri Lanka at The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. (AFP)


Highs and lows of the cricket World Cup ahead of the 2015 edition which takes place in Australia and New Zealand from February 14-March 29:

2011 Hosts: India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Champions: India

India became the first ever team to win on home soil with a comfortable six-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the final in Mumbai.

The occasion also saw Sachin Tendulkar finally win a world title at the sixth attempt and with his 38th birthday just around the corner.

The tournament also became a springboard for cricket diplomacy after India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani to watch the semi-final clash between the arch-rivals in Mohali.

England's high-scoring tie with India in Bangalore breathed life into the tournament, while the English were also defeated by Bangladesh.

Pakistan reached the semi-finals despite having had three players banned for corruption and their rights as tournament co-hosts snatched away because of their domestic security nightmare.

Ireland scored a sensational victory over England thanks to Kevin O'Brien's record-breaking century.

2007 Hosts: West Indies, Champions: Australia

The 47-day event was not even a one-week old when Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room in Jamaica. He was initially thought to have been murdered before it was announced he died of natural causes.

The former England batsman's death came hours after Pakistan's shock defeat against debutants Ireland, the loss eventually leading to the exit of the 1992 champions.

Rahul Dravid's Indians made a horror start, losing to minnows Bangladesh in their opening match, eventually leading to India's first round ouster.

Disappointment was also in store for spectators in Bridgetown when the rain-hit final between Australia and Sri Lanka ended in semi-darkness.

Adam Gilchrist dominated the final, hammering a 104-ball 149 with a squash ball in his left glove which seemed to help him hit straight.

Australia posted 281-4 off 38 overs. Sri Lankan veteran Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara made bold half-centuries but their team finished at 215-8 as their target was revised to 269 off 36 overs following a rain interruption.

Sri Lanka off-spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan finished with 23 wickets and paceman Lasith Malinga became the first bowler to bag four wickets off as many balls, against South Africa.

2003 Hosts: South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya, Champions: Australia 

The 2003 World Cup was not only about Australia's triumph over adversity, but also about protests, boycotts and a drug-ban.

Australia suffered a blow even before the show had begun when Shane Warne was ruled out of the tournament after failing a drugs test.

England boycotted their match in Zimbabwe and New Zealand refused to play in Kenya on safety and political grounds. The points earned by defaults helped Zimbabwe and Kenya make it to the Super Six stage.

Zimbabwean paceman Henry Olonga and batsman Andy Flower were soon to be pushed into exile for their black armband protest against the "death of democracy" in their country.

Shaun Pollock's South Africans bowed out after a miscalculation during their rain-hit match against Sri Lanka.

When South African wicket-keeper Mark Boucher hit the penultimate ball off what turned out to be the final over for a six to level the scores, he thought the job had been completed. But his team still needed one more run to win.

Kenya made a surprise semi-final appearance but did not have the resources to stretch India who qualified for the final.

Ricky Ponting (140 not out) dominated the Johannesburg final with a gem of a knock as Australia set a stiff 360-run target. Despite Virender Sehwag's 82, India were bowled out for 234.

1999 Hosts: England, Champions: Australia

South Africa failed to qualify for the final despite not losing their semi-final against Australia which ended in a tie. They bowed out as a result of their inferior net run-rate to Australia in the Super Six stage.

In that game, Australia were chasing a stiff 272-run target at Headingley when Steve Waugh, on 56, offered a simple catch to South African century-maker Herschelle Gibbs, who held the ball before dropping it in premature celebrations.

The Australian captain needed just that slice of fortune to steer his team to a crucial win with an unbeaten century.

The final was an anti-climax, with Australia thrashing Pakistan by eight wickets. Leg-spin magician Shane Warne grabbed four wickets in what turned out to be his last World Cup match as Pakistan were bowled out for just 132.

1996: Hosts: Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, Champions: Sri Lanka

Arjuna Ranatunga's Sri Lankans celebrated when Aravinda de Silva cracked a classy hundred to steer his team to a seven-wicket victory over Australia in the day-night final at Lahore.

Sri Lanka were assured of winning two matches even before the first ball had been bowled as both Australia and the West Indies refused to play their opening games in the island nation due to security reasons.

Riots took place at Kolkata's Eden Gardens during the semi-final between India and Sri Lanka.

India, who had beaten Pakistan in the quarter-finals, were facing defeat against Sri Lanka at 120-8 chasing 252 when disturbances began.

The spectators threw missiles on to the field and lit fires in the stands, forcing match referee Clive Lloyd to award the game to Sri Lanka.

The tournament saw a shock when little Kenya pulled off a 73-run win over West Indies - Brian Lara included - in Pune.

1992 Hosts: Australia and New Zealand, Champions: Pakistan

South Africa would have have contested the final on their maiden appearance after more than two decades of isolation due to apartheid if it were possible to score 21 off one ball.

Rain halted South Africa's chase when they needed 22 to win off 13 balls against England in the semi-finals. The target was revised to a ridiculous 21 off just one ball when the game resumed. South Africa had no option but to accept their fate.

In the MCG final, skipper Imran Khan led from the front against England, top-scoring with 72 to help his side post 249-6. Javed Miandad (58), Inzamam (42) and Wasim Akram (33) also chipped in useful runs. England were all out for 227.

1987 Hosts: India and Pakistan, Champions: Australia

It was not the tournament for the hosts who had left the party in the semi-finals, leaving millions of fans in India and Pakistan disappointed.

Australian paceman Craig McDermott stopped Pakistan with a five-wicket haul to lead his team to victory at Lahore. He was also the tournament's most successful bowler with 18 wickets.

India were in the mourning the following day at Mumbai when England's Graham Gooch swept the hosts' spinners on way to a superb century which led to his team's win in the other semi-final.

In the final in front of 70,000 spectators at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, Australia rode on David Boon's 75 to post 253-5 and England were strongly placed at 135-2 in reply before disaster struck.

Mike Gatting (41) attempted a reverse-sweep off his counterpart Allan Border, an occasional left-arm spinner, only to give wicket-keeper Greg Dyer a simple catch and England fell short by seven runs.

1983 Hosts: England, Champions: India

West Indies were favourites while India were outsiders having won just one match - against a lowly East Africa in 1975 - in the previous two tournaments.

The tournament began on a sensational note, with India shocking the West Indies in a group match at Old Trafford and minnows Zimbabwe upsetting Australia.

India faced many anxious moments - they were 17-5 against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells when Kapil Dev blazed 175 not out with the help of six sixes and 16 fours to help his team post a competitive 266-8. Zimbabwe eventually lost the match by 31 runs.

In the final, India managed only 183 against a formidable pace attack of Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Malcolm Marshall.

If there were was one moment that swung the final India's way, it was Dev's catch to account for Richards.

Richards mis-hooked a Madan Lal bouncer for Dev, who ran back towards mid-wicket to hold the ball and change the course of the match. West Indies were all out for 140 to hand India a 43-run victory.

1979 Hosts: England, Champions: West Indies

Australia shed much of their strength after TV tycoon Kerry Packer rocked the establishment by luring top players to his World Series Cricket in 1977.

The only surprise was Sri Lanka's victory over India in a group match which was to help them gain Test status in early 1980s.

In the final at Lord's, the West Indies were in trouble at 99-4 after being put in to bat by England skipper Mike Brearley, but found saviours in Viv Richards and Collis King who put on 139 for the fifth wicket.

King smashed 86 off 66 balls with three sixes and 10 fours. Richards cracked three sixes and 11 fours in his 157-ball 138 not out to set a 287-run target.

England's tactics left a lot to be desired -- openers Geoff Boycott and Brearley put on 129, but consumed more than half of the stipulated overs. The hosts lost by 92 runs.

1975 Hosts: England, Champions: West Indies

Australia had to bank on Gary Gilmour's all-round performance (6-14 and 28 not out) to beat England in the semi-finals. Left-arm fast bowler Gilmour became the first player to grab six wickets in a one-dayer as England were dismissed for 93 on a seaming Leeds track.

The final will be remembered for West Indies captain Clive Lloyd's 102 off 85 balls against Australia and for Viv Richards's brilliant piece of fielding which led to three of the five run-outs.

The West Indies posted 291-8 off 60 overs despite a five-wicket effort from Gilmour before Australia lost by 17 runs.