Sport Cricket Countdown: the 40 greatest World Cup moments
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Countdown: the 40 greatest World Cup moments

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This year marks 40 years since the first edition of cricket’s World Cup, and while the 50-over format has declined in popularity in recent years, the tournament always provides plenty of magical moments.

Sports writer Will Evans is counting down his 40 most memorable World Cup moments of all-time. Here are moments 30-21.

The 40 greatest World Cup moments part one
Michael Clarke’s comeback gathers pace

30. Kenya rolls West Indies in epic boilover (1996)

World Cup debutants Kenya produced one of the great ODI upsets at the 1996 tournament, thumping a West Indies side that boasted names like Lara, Richardson, Chanderpaul, Ambrose and Walsh by 73 runs. Extras was the top score with 35 as the minnows were bowled out for a modest 166, but when Rajab Ali dismissed Richie Richardson and Brian Lara to leave the Windies reeling at 3-33, the Kenyans smelled blood. Shiv Chanderpaul (19) and Roger Harper (17) were the only West Indians to reach double figures as the tail crumbled; the innings came to an end in the 36th over for a paltry 93. “I have no words right now,” skipper Richardson said post-match, summing up the enormity of the result.

29. Wessels burns former teammates (1992)

South Africa’s World Cup debut was a watershed moment for the nation’s post-apartheid era, and the Republic could hardly have dreamed of a better reintroduction to the world sporting stage. The Proteas crushed hosts Australia by nine wickets in their first match at the SCG. Captain Kepler Wessels – who scored four centuries in 24 Tests for Australia from 1982-85 while South Africa was in international isolation – led the way with an unbeaten 81, carrying his bat as they overhauled the struggling home side’s 9-170 with 19 balls to spare. The 34-year-old Wessels was congratulated by President FW De Klerk over the phone that night after one of South African sport’s most significant occasions.

28. Debutants stun World Series-weary Aussies (1983)

Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson and Rod Marsh were back in the fold for the 1983 World Cup after missing the ’79 tournament due to a World Series-related hiatus. But the tumult of that revolutionary era had not completely dissipated and team harmony was not exactly at an all-time high in the Kim Hughes-led side. A dismal campaign began with a shock 13-run loss to Cup debutants Zimbabwe, who posted 6-239 largely thanks to captain Duncan Fletcher’s stoic 69 not out. The efforts of Kepler Wessels (76) and Marsh (50 not out) underpinned Australia’s chase, but Fletcher took 4-42 to help restrict the favourites to 7-226 off their 60 overs. Australia gained some respite when they subdued Zimbabwe by 32 runs in the return pool-stage clash, but missed the semi-finals after finishing a distant third in their group. Fletcher, meanwhile, went on mastermind a breakthrough Ashes triumph as England’s coach in 2005.

27. Qadir brings the house down at Lahore (1987)

Veteran leg-spinner Abdul Qadir played the role of unlikely hero by steering hosts Pakistan to a rousing one-wicket win over perennial heavyweights West Indies during the ’87 tournament. Captain Imran Khan’s 4-37 helped restrict the Windies to 216, but Pakistan’s chase seemed to have run out of steam when they lost four wickets for 20 runs to be 9-203 with one over remaining. Needing 14 to win off six balls, No.9 Qadir and No.11 Salim Jaffer scraped four runs off Courtney Walsh’s first three deliveries (narrowly avoiding a run out on an overthrow) before Qadir smashed him down the ground for six. He then hit two off each of the final two balls to snatch a thrilling triumph, running down the pitch with bat aloft as he came back for the winning run.

26. England pips South Africa with one ball to spare (1992)

South Africa’s stirring return to the bosom of international cricket saw them well in the semi-final hunt by the time they met archrivals England at the SCG. Kepler Wessels (85) and Andrew Hudson (79) crafted a 151-run opening stand as the Proteas set England a target of 237. Stand-in captain Alec Stewart got England’s chase off to a flyer with 77 off 88 balls, but a rain interruption reduced their overs by nine and the target by just 11 in the archaic pre-Duckworth-Lewis method days. A superb 75 not by Neil Fairbrother and a key cameo of 33 off 22 balls by Chris Lewis put England back in the frame. Tailender Phil De Freitas calmly propelled England to a nerve-jangling victory on the second-last ball; further rain-related drama was to come when the sides clashed again in the semi-final.

25. McDermott rips through Pakistan (1987)

Derided as a ‘bunch of club cricketers’ upon leaving for the ’87 World Cup, Australia secured their place in the final with a stunning 18-run triumph over in-form co-hosts Pakistan in the semi at Lahore. David Boon (65) and Michael Veletta (48) spearheaded Australia’s drive to an imposing 8-267, but the key to victory was the performance of 22-year-old fast bowler Craig McDermott. After rattling the stumps of opener Mansoor Akhtar and big-hitting Wasim Akram, the red-headed Queenslander had Pakistan’s last three batsmen out caught behind as the home side finished 249 all out in the 49th over.

24. Jonty runs out Inzamam (1992)

Simultaneously announcing Jonty Rhodes as the greatest fieldsman in world cricket – and Inzamam Ul Haq as arguably the worst runner between the wickets in the game – this run out ranked atop a long list of stunning efforts in the field at the ’92 World Cup, which included Allan Border throwing down the stumps to dismiss Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin and multiple efforts by New Zealand’s Chris Harris. Rhodes’ ‘Superman’ dive to send the burly Inzamam on his way also proved pivotal to South Africa’s 20-run win over Pakistan, breaking up a dangerous partnership with Imran Khan and sparking a lower-order collapse in the rain-reduced encounter at the Gabba.

23. ‘Binga’ matches Bond blitz (2003)

New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond produced one of the great World Cup bowling performances against Australia during the Super Sixes stage of the 2003 tournament, dismantling the defending champs’ batting line-up with 6-23 from his 10 overs. Only the efforts of Michael Bevan (56) and Ian Harvey (64) saved Australia from total collapse, steering the overwhelming favourites through to 9-208. But Brett Lee, who clubbed two sixes in the final over of Australia’s innings, responded with his own devastating display of express-pace bowling. The Black Caps’ chase was evenly poised halfway through their allotted 50 overs, until ‘Binga’ claimed their last five wickets – starting with innings anchor Stephen Fleming – in the space of 15 balls. New Zealand had crumbled from 5-102 to be 112 all out in the 31st over.

22. Pakistan breaks Kiwi hearts at Eden Park (1992)

New Zealand’s fairytale run as co-hosts of the 1992 World Cup came to a shattering conclusion in the semi-final at a packed Eden Park. The Kiwis posted 7-262 after brilliant captain Martin Crowe (91) and Ken Rutherford (50) put on 107 for the fourth wicket. But a similarly magnificent 87-run stand by veteran Javed Miandad (57 not out) and burgeoning youngster Inzamam Ul Haq (60), who reached his half-century off just 31 balls, swung the match in Pakistan’s favour. With the injured Crowe sitting on the sidelines, New Zealand briefly fought back as Chris Harris ran out Inzamam and Willie Watson bowled Wasim Akram, but Miandad and 20-year-old keeper Moin Khan saw Pakistan through to the final in a dramatic four-wicket win with an over to spare. A jubilant Miandad kissed the turf, while there were tears aplenty from the men in grey shirts as they made their way around the ground to thank their gutted but appreciative fans.

21. Windies’ amazing turnaround (1996)

Stunned by Kenya just four days earlier, the beleaguered West Indies bounced back in sensational fashion to down heavyweights Australia by four wickets in Jaipur and simultaneously get their campaign to reach the knockout stages back on track. The 21-year-old Ricky Ponting blasted a wonderful 102 off 112 balls and Steve Waugh chipped in with 57 as Australia reached 6-229. The Windies were heading for a potentially fatal loss at 2-26 in reply, but Brian Lara (60) and skipper Richie Richardson (93 not out) rectified the chase. Mark Waugh got rid of Lara and almost had Richardson soon after, but Ponting fell over the rope and into the advertising hoardings after taking the catch on the boundary. It was a critical moment – the West Indies had six valuable runs added to their total instead and Richardson went on to guide his team to victory with seven balls to spare.

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