20 Biggest Shocks in Cricket World Cup History

Rob Lancaster@RobLancs79Featured ColumnistJune 25, 2015

20 Biggest Shocks in Cricket World Cup History

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    On June 25 in 1983, India won the Cricket World Cup for the first time.

    It may not seem like a surprise these days, but back then it was a sporting shock that had major ramifications for not just the winners, but also the sport as a whole.

    Kapil Dev's side were the underdogs in the final against West Indies, yet they found a way to upset the odds and claim the trophy.

    A nation that had won just once before in the history of the tournament managed to make it all the way to Lord's, finishing second in Group B before knocking out host nation England in the semi-finals.

    Still, few saw them coming out on top against a West Indies side that had been crowned champions in 1975 and 1979.

    The result changed the profile of one-day cricket in India, a cricket-mad country that became inspired by its team's unlikely success.

    To mark the anniversary of India's famous victory, we've picked out 20 great shocks in the history of the World Cup.

20. Sri Lanka vs. India (Old Trafford, 1979)

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    Before 1983, India endured a miserable time of it at the Cricket World Cup.

    In the first two editions of the tournament they failed to get out of the group stage, with the one moment of note being Sunil Gavaskar scoring 36 off 174 balls against England at Lord's in 1975.

    They came a cropper against Sri Lanka four years later, losing by 47 runs at Old Trafford in Manchester, England.

    Sri Lanka—still an Associate nation at the time—made 238 for six from their 60 overs, Sunil Wettimuny, Roy Dias and Duleep Mendis all hitting half-centuries.

    While the game started on a Saturday, India's run chase was held up until Monday.

    The delay didn't do them any good, as they were bowled out for 191 in 54.1 overs. The result meant they finished bottom of Group B, having already suffered heavy defeats against West Indies and New Zealand.

19. Australia vs. South Africa (Edgbaston, 1999)

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    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    While Australia beating South Africa is hardly a shock, the manner of their triumph in the 1999 Cricket World Cup semi-final was stunning.

    A see-saw contest seemed to be tilting the Proteas' way when Lance Klusener blasted them to the brink of victory at Edgbaston, Birmingham, England.

    In reply to Australia's 213 all out, South Africa had faltered to 176 for six before the all-rounder quickly changed the momentum.

    He thrashed 31 runs in 14 deliveries, leaving his team needing just one more run from the remaining four balls of the match.

    Yet, somehow, they still fell short. Confusion between Klusener and last-man Allan Donald after a drive by the former led to the latter being run out.

    Australia had tied the game in dramatic circumstances, meaning they went through after finishing above South Africa in the final Super Six table on net run-rate.

    As Tim de Lisle wrote in his report for the Wisden Almanack (h/t ESPN Cricinfo): "It was a compressed epic all the way through, and it ended in a savage twist."

18. Kenya vs. Zimbabwe (Bloemfontein, 2003)

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    Kenya's fairytale run at the 2003 Cricket World Cup saw them go all the way to the semi-final stage.

    To get there, Steve Tikolo's side had to beat Zimbabwe for the first time in 15 attempts, per the Wisden Almanack report on the match in Bloemfontein, South Africa (h/t ESPN Cricinfo).

    The Super Six fixture saw Zimbabwe stutter to 133 all out. Only Andy Flower, who made 63, offered any resistance.

    Martin Suji knocked the top off the Zimbabwean innings by taking three for 19, while leg-spinner Collins Obuya also picked up three wickets.

    Kenya's run chase could have been in a spot of bother at 62 for three, but Thomas Odoyo and Maurice Odumbe responded to the situation with an excellent partnership.

    The pair added an unbroken 73 to steer their nation to victory with the small matter of 144 balls to spare.

    A third triumph at the tournament over a Test-playing nation sent Kenya through to the last four, though they would lose in the next round to India.

17. New Zealand vs. Australia (Auckland, 1992)

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    Australia were the pre-tournament favourites for the 1992 Cricket World Cup, yet it took just one game to expose their flaws.

    Co-hosts New Zealand had home advantage for the trans-Tasman battle in Auckland, and in Martin Crowe they had not only a batsman in form, but also a captain willing to think outside the box.

    The Kiwis slipped to 53 for three before Crowe, who finished up unbeaten on 100 in a total of 248 for six, and Ken Rutherford added 118 for the fourth wicket.

    New Zealand pulled a surprise with their opening bowling combination, choosing to use spinner Dipak Patel alongside seamer Chris Cairns.

    The tactic paid off as Patel picked up one for 36 from his 10 overs, and Australia quickly found themselves slipping by the required rate.

    David Boon made a century, but his departure sparked a late collapse. The Australian innings subsided to 211, the opening chapter in a miserable campaign that saw them fail to make the semi-finals.

    New Zealand, meanwhile, went on to reach the last four, where they were on the other end of an upset against eventual winners Pakistan.

16. Ireland vs. West Indies (Nelson, 2015)

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    Ireland opened their 2015 campaign with a four-wicket win over West Indies in Nelson, New Zealand—though, according to skipper William Porterfield, his side's win was not an upset.

    West Indies recovered from 87 for five to post a score of 304 for seven, Lendl Simmons leading their recovery with a century.

    But if Irish fans were worried they had let the men from the Caribbean off the hook, their fears soon disappeared.

    Paul Stirling (92) and Ed Joyce (84) led the run chase before Niall O'Brien's unbeaten 79 steered Ireland to their target with an astonishing 25 balls to spare.

    The Associate nation had pulled off another famous victory, though Porterfield, per the Jamaica Observer, insisted no one should be surprised: "The term an upset, anything from minnows to Associate, I don't see why a team has to be an Associate or a team has to be a full member."

15. England vs. India (Bombay, 1987)

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    After winning the Cricket World Cup in 1983, India developed a newfound love for 50-over cricket.

    They hosted the next tournament four years later and, with conditions obviously in their favour and the support of an adoring nation, they were expected to go far.

    In the semi-finals they came up against England, a side that knew all about the pressure of trying to lift the trophy on home soil.

    Put into bat, Graham Gooch swept and pulled his way to a superb century. He put on 117 with skipper Mike Gatting (56) as England posted a respectable 254 for six.

    India lost Sunil Gavaskar early in their reply, though Mohammad Azharuddin kept them on course with 64.

    But, once he fell with the score on 204, the hosts collapsed in a heap. They lost their last five wickets for 15 runs, leaving them all out for 219 after 45.3 overs.

    Eddie Hemmings ended up being the spinner who played the starring role, picking up four for 52.

    England progressed, though they went on to lose in the final to Australia.

14. Pakistan vs. New Zealand (Auckland, 1992)

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    Pakistan had only made it through to the semi-finals of the 1992 Cricket World Cup by the skin of their teeth.

    A late flurry of wins, plus the added bonus of a rained-off fixture against England when they were seemingly certain to lose, saw them squeeze into the final qualification spot.

    They had already beaten New Zealand once in the tournament, though the Kiwis were still favourites to triumph in Auckland and go through to the final.

    The hosts looked in excellent shape when they made 262 for seven, captain Martin Crowe leading the way with 91 from 83 deliveries.

    Despite their skipper being unable to field due to injury, New Zealand looked in control going into the final 15 overs.

    But, requiring 123 at Eden Park, Pakistan found a new hero in Inzamam-ul-Haq.

    The young batsman blasted 60 from 37 balls, and although he was run out in a tense finish, Moin Khan's unbeaten 20 saw his team home with an over to spare.

    Pakistan would go on to lift the trophy, beating England in the final at Melbourne.

13. Zimbabwe vs. England (Albury, 1992)

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    Zimbabwe recorded just their second Cricket World Cup win in 1992 (and nine years after their first), toppling England in a low-scoring game at Albury, Australia.

    Put into bat, the underdogs found it tough going on a bowler-friendly pitch, posting just 134 before being bowled out in the 47th over.

    England's spin duo of Richard Illingworth and Phil Tufnell ended up taking five wickets between them, leaving their batsmen with a seemingly straightforward task.

    However, there was an early sign that things would not go according to plan.

    Graham Gooch fell to the first ball of the innings, one of four wickets to be taken by Zimbabwe seamer Eddo Brandes.

    England—who went on to reach the final—did make it to 95 for five but lost the rest of their side for 30 runs. They were all out for 125, meaning Zimbabwe had ended a run of 18 straight World Cup defeats.

12. Bangladesh vs. Pakistan (Northampton, 1999)

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    Bangladesh had still not been granted full Test status when they toppled the mighty Pakistan in 1999.

    While the match was a dead rubber, with Pakistan already certain of qualifying for the semi-finals, the underdogs did not miss out on the opportunity to claim a major scalp before heading home.

    They made 223 for nine from their 50 overs after being put into bat at the County Ground in Northampton, England.

    It soon became clear Pakistan were going to struggle.

    They lost their first five wickets for just 42 runs, the run out of opener Saeed Anwar not helping their cause.

    The lower order did their best to launch a recovery mission, but Pakistan were eventually bowled out for 161 in 44.3 overs.

    Saqlain Mushtaq was the last wicket to fall, though by the time he was given run out, the Bangladesh fans had already started celebrating.

11. Canada vs. Bangladesh (Kingsmead, 2003)

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    Having recorded the odd surprise win themselves, Bangladesh found the tables turned when they faced Canada in 2007.

    Everything seemed to be going to plan for the Tigers when they bowled their opponents out for 180 at Kingsmead, Durban, South Africa.

    They then reached 33 without loss with the bat, only to lose their next 10 wickets for the addition of just 87 runs.

    Appearing in their first full ODI since 1979, Canada seized on some careless strokes to bowl Bangladesh out for 120 in 28 overs.

    Austin Codrington was the hero for the Associate nation, the seamer—born in Portland, Jamaica—claiming five for 27 in his nine overs.

    He took the last three wickets for the addition of just one run, sealing a stunning triumph when he had Mohammad Rafique caught by John Davison for 12.

10. Sri Lanka vs. Australia (Lahore, 1996)

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    Sri Lanka's success at the 1996 Cricket World Cup is perhaps best remembered for their reliance on spinners and an opening pair of batsmen who only looked to play one way.

    However, their victory in the final at Lahore, Pakistan, wasn't about anyone blasting away at the top of the order.

    Chasing a target of 242, Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana were both out for single-figure scores.

    Sri Lanka, though, had no need to panic; they had Aravinda de Silva in their side.

    The diminutive right-hander came in at 23 for two and proceeded to hit a match-winning century, finishing up on 107 not out in a seven-wicket triumph.

    De Silva had earlier taken three wickets with his flat off-spin, as Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga was rewarded for his brave decision to bowl first after winning the toss. 

    Muttiah Muralitharan, who was part of the successful XI, told the ICC's official website: "The success reached out to the future generations, showed them what could be achieved and allowed cricket to professionalise. It put Sri Lanka cricket on the map and we have been growing ever since."

9. Bangladesh vs. India (Trinidad, 2007)

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    The format of the 2007 Cricket World Cup did not allow for any early slip-ups from the big guns.

    The 16 competing nations were split into four groups, with the top two in each going on to participate in the Super Eight stage.

    India didn't appear to have too much to worry about when they were drawn in Group B, alongside Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bermuda.

    However, Rahul Dravid's side came a cropper in their opening match, losing to neighbours Bangladesh by five wickets in Trinidad.

    India were bowled out for 191 after choosing to bat first, though their final score would have been even lower had it not been for an uncharacteristically patient 66 from Sourav Ganguly.

    Still, Bangladesh managed to overhaul their total with five wickets to spare, with teenager Mushfiqur Rahim showing great maturity with an unbeaten 56.

    The defeat would end up costing India, as they made an embarrassingly early exit from the tournament at the first round.

8. Zimbabwe vs. India (Leicester, 1999)

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    Zimbabwe snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in their second match at the 1999 Cricket World Cup.

    India looked set to triumph in the Group A fixture at Grace Road, Leicester, England, when they required just nine runs from the final two overs.

    However, Henry Olonga changed the outcome in a hurry.

    The seamer returned to the attack after a disappointing initial spell to claim the final three India wickets in the same over.

    After Robin Singh was caught for 35, Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad fell in successive deliveries to leave India all out for 249.

    Andy Flower had earlier scored an unbeaten 68 for Zimbabwe, who were helped out by their opponents being docked four overs from their run chase due to a slow over-rate in the field.

7. Zimbabwe vs. South Africa (Chelmsford, 1999)

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    All-rounder Neil Johnson was the hero against South Africa as Zimbabwe continued their giant-killing campaign at the 1999 Cricket World Cup.

    Johnson, who had lived in South Africa in his youth, top-scored with 76 to help his team make 233 for six at the County Ground in Chelmsford, England.

    However, it was with the ball where he made the biggest impact on proceedings.

    Together with new-ball partner Heath Streak, Johnson decimated the Proteas' top order. They found themselves six down with only 40 runs on the board.

    Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener threatened to spoil Zimbabwe's day, with both all-rounder's making 52. But, when the former was caught in the deep, South Africa were doomed.

    Klusener was left high and dry with no one for company as the innings ended on 185.

    Zimbabwe had recorded their first-ever win over their illustrious neighbours in any format and Johnson, who finished with figures of three for 27, was rightly named Man of the Match.

6. Kenya vs. Sri Lanka (Nairobi, 2003)

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    Kenya made the most of home advantage to stun Sri Lanka at the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

    New Zealand had opted not to visit Nairobi for their Pool B fixture due to security concerns, resulting in them forfeiting the points.

    Sri Lanka did travel to the Gymkhana Club Ground, resulting in them falling victim to Kenya's biggest one-day win since they stunned West Indies in 1996.

    There looked to be no sign of what was to come when the home side struggled to 210 for nine from their 50 overs.

    However, Sri Lanka's powerful batting lineup were unable to cope with Kenya's bowlers, Collins Obuya in particular.

    The leg-spinner snared five for 24 from his 10 overs, Aravinda de Silva, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara among his victims during a superb spell of slow bowling.

    Sri Lanka were bowled out for 157 in 45 overs, meaning Kenya had one foot already in the Super Eight stage.

5. Ireland vs. Pakistan (Jamaica, 2007)

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    St Patrick's Day in 2007 was particularly special for Ireland's cricket team, as they stunned Pakistan at Sabina Park in Jamaica.

    Put into bat, Pakistan were knocked over for 132 in 45.4 overs on a pitch that offered some help to the seam bowlers.

    Boyd Rankin—who has since played one-day and Test cricket for England—picked up three for 32, though every Irish bowler claimed a wicket.

    However, were it not for Niall O'Brien, the underdogs would never have successfully chased down a revised target of 127 following a delay for rain.

    The wicketkeeper-batsman made 72 (the next highest score in the entire match was 27) before becoming the fifth wicket to fall, leaving his side wobbling with the score on 108.

    Yet Niall's brother, Kevin O'Brien, combined with captain Trent Johnston to steer Ireland home with three wickets to spare.

    The result helped them qualify for the Super Eights, while Pakistan failed to get out of the group.

    The defeat for Pakistan, though, was put in perspective when their coach, Bob Woolmer, was found dead in his hotel room the following day.

4. Zimbabwe vs. Australia (Trent Bridge, 1983)

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    Zimbabwe's introduction to the Cricket World Cup could not have been any more dramatic.

    The debutants in 1983 found themselves opening their campaign against an Australia side featuring Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, not to mention a young Allan Border.

    It seemed the game would stay true to form when Zimbabwe were reduced to 94 for five at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, England.

    However, Duncan Fletcher led a lower-order recovery. The team's captain made 69 not out to help his side post 239 for six from their 60 overs.

    The future England and India coach wasn't finished there—he picked up four for 42, including breaking an opening stand of 62 between Kepler Wessels and Graeme Wood.

    Wicketkeeper Rodney Marsh made 50 not out but Australia ended up falling short, finishing on 226 for seven.

    Defeat was a bitter pill for Australia captain Kim Hughes to swallow, as he revealed to Simon Lister in an article for Wisden Cricketer (h/t ESPN Cricinfo): "I felt it very badly. I had to go and explain to everybody why we lost. How the bloody hell did we stuff that up? I've been trying to live it down ever since."

3. Kenya vs. West Indies (Nairobi, 1996)

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    Kenya toppled the West Indies at the 1996 Cricket World Cup thanks to a brilliant bowling display.

    The minnows looked cooked at Nehru Stadium, Poona, India, when they were bowled out for 166, extras being their top scorer with 37.

    West Indies' carelessness in giving away runs proved crucial, though the major cause of their downfall was an inexplicably poor batting display against an Associate nation.

    Only Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Roger Harper made it into double figures as the men from the Caribbean were dismissed for 93, their lowest ever total in a World Cup fixture.

    The key scalp for Kenya was Brian Lara, who was caught behind for eight to become one of three wickets to fall to the bowling of Rajab Ali.

    Perhaps, though, the upset was not such a great surprise after all.

    As Martin Williamson pointed out in a review of the game for ESPN Cricinfo, the West Indies were in a mess when they turned up at the tournament:

    Richie Richardson, the captain, was under massive pressure to quit, and consensus was he looked isolated, adrift from a side who no longer believed in him. To add to the team's problems, the headline act, Brian Lara, at times seemed to want to be anywhere other than with the team.

2. Ireland vs. England (Bangalore, 2011)

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    Ireland had already shown their giant-killing capabilities at the previous Cricket World Cup, yet few gave them much chance of upsetting England in 2011.

    Jonathan Trott top-scored with 92 as England compiled 327 for eight after winning the toss and opting to bat first at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, India.

    The Irish reply was consistently undermined by the fall of wickets, and at one stage they found themselves 111 for five.

    However, Kevin O'Brien did not just change the momentum, he created World Cup history.

    The all-rounder smashed his way to the fastest hundred in the tournament, taking just 50 deliveries to reach the milestone.

    England eventually dismissed O'Brien—who had hit six sixes and 13 fours— for 113, although by then the damage had already been done. 

    John Mooney and Trent Johnston saw Ireland home with three wickets to spare in the final over, meaning their team had produced the highest successful World Cup run chase.

1. India vs. West Indies (Lord's, 1983)

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    West Indies' hopes of lifting the Cricket World Cup for a third straight time were dashed by outsiders India in 1983.

    The final at Lord's was a contrast in styles. West Indies were able to field four seriously fast bowlers: Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding.

    India, meanwhile, relied less on pace and more on precision. It was the tortoise up against the hare and, just like Aesop's fable, the former somehow won.

    Kapil Dev's side were put into bat, and while several of their top order made starts, they ended up being dismissed for 183 with more than five overs to spare.

    However, their final total proved to be more than enough to cause the mother of all upsets.

    West Indies' run chase rather unravelled with the dismissal of Viv Richards. Having raced to 33 in a hurry, he miscued a hook shot off the bowling of Madan Lal.

    Dev, running back toward the leg-side boundary, managed to cling on to the catch.

    Mohinder Amarnath's medium pace claimed three of the final four wickets to fall, as West Indies were bowled out for 140.

    It was a huge victory that had a ripple effect on future generations.

    Sourav Ganguly, who captained India in 49 Tests and 149 ODI's—told gocricket.com: "The World Cup victory in 1983 opened new horizons for Indian cricket. Every kid on the block wanted to play the game."

    All stats used in the slideshow were from ESPN Cricinfo.