ICC Cricket World Cup brings excitement and passion amongst cricket fans all over the world. The mega event organized every four years, is never short of spicy & dramatic cricketing action. The hosts England are the hot favourites to lift the trophy for the first time in 2019. The defending champions Australia have found their rhythm at the right time for a title defence. Team India boasts of a squad capable of going all the way this world cup.
Over the years of the World cup campaigns, the cricketing action was not always exciting but disheartening too. There have been various moments that have brought tears in the eyes of players & fans since the world cup started. Some moments have also proven to be pitiful ones throughout the lives of the players.
Let us have a look at five such heart-breaking moments in the World cup history
#1 Australia vs South Africa- 1999 World Cup semi-finals
Cricket fans are familiar with the infamous tag of ‘Chokers’ associated with Team South Africa. There have been various instances where South Africa had lost the match from winning positions. This was one such moment. I would call this as one of the most heart-breaking moments in the cricketing history and not just the World cups. South Africa progressed to Super six stage of the tournament after winning four of their five league matches. After playing impressive cricket in the super six stages against Pakistan and New Zealand, South Africa managed to progress to the semi-finals.
As per the ties, it was South Africa and Australia to face in the 2nd semi-finals. South Africa captain Hansie Cronje won the toss & opted to bowl first. Australia was put under the pump by the splendid display of fast bowling from Jacques Kallis, Shaun Pollock, and Allan Donald. At 68/4, it was then captain Steve Waugh alongside Michael Bevan who stitched a valuable 90-run partnership to steady the innings. The late brilliance of Pollock again bundled the Aussie innings for just 213 runs.
The batting brilliance of South Africa throughout the tournament put them as favourites in the innings break. Openers Gary Kirsten & Herschelle Gibbs gave a solid start to the Proteas, till Shane Warne had the better of the duo. A run-out and a duck from the captain Cronje swayed the match in favour of the Aussies. Thanks to the 84-run stand between Kallis and Jonty Rhodes brought Proteas closer to the target.
At the fall of Rhodes, Proteas needed 69 runs off 57 balls. The Aussies kept taking the wickets at regular intervals. It was Lance Klusener, single-handedly kept South Africa in the hunt. It all came down to the last over, 9 runs needed for a Protea victory and 1 wicket for Aussie to book the final berth. Klusener stuck 2 boundaries off Damien Fleming and nearly sealed a victory for his team. But, what followed later haunts South African fans and players even to this day. With just a run needed off last 3 balls, Klusener tucks the ball to mid-off and runs for a non-existent single. Donald who was ball watching ends up at the halfway mark and Aussie tie the game in a thrilling fashion. Although a tie, Australia advanced to the finals having finished higher than South Africa in the Super Six stage.
#2 India vs Sri Lanka -1996 World Cup Semi-finals
The Wills World Cup in 1996, jointly hosted by India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, is one of the dark memories for Indian cricket’s history. India had a balanced side for the mega event. They played well in the league stage to make it to the quarterfinals. They defended 287 runs against the arch-rivals Pakistan in a high voltage quarterfinal match to reach the semi-finals. Pakistan’s legendary Javed Miandad played his last match for Pakistan on that day at Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. In semi-finals, India locked horns against the tournament favourites Sri Lanka.
Captain Mohammad Azharuddin won the toss and elected to field first. The Indian bowlers put up a good show upfront jolting Lankan top order for just 35/3. However, Aravinda de Silva had other ideas. He counter-attacked Indian bowling with a half-century knock of 66 (47) runs. Later Skipper Arjun Ranatunga and Roshan Mahanama took team’s total to a safe zone with a valuable 83-run partnership for the fifth wicket. A late flourish by Chaminda Vaas & Hashan Tillakaratne took Lankans to a competitive total of 251/8 in 50 overs.
In reply, the quarterfinal hero Navjot Singh Sidhu was dismissed very early in the innings. Sachin Tendulkar & Sanjay Manjrekar steadied the innings with a 90-run stand. Just when things were going smooth for the Indians, a catastrophe had hit the Team India & by the time they realized they were knocked out. Sachin’s stumping off Sanath Jayasuriya opened the floodgates and Indian batsmen fell like nine pins unable to tackle Lankan spinners. Eventually folded up for 120 runs from a commanding position of 98/1.
The shoddy performance of the team didn’t go well with the enthusiastic crowd at the Eden Gardens. The incensed crowd started pelting water bottles & set some section of the stadium on fire on the live television. Unable to subdue the angered crowd, match referee declared Sri Lanka as the winners. Sri Lanka went onto win the world cup against Australia in an emphatic manner to win their maiden World cup trophy.
#3 England vs South Africa 1992 World Cup semi-finals
The fifth edition of Cricket World Cup in 1992 was a complete package. Team Pakistan lead by captain Imran Khan went on to win their maiden World cup trophy defeating England by 22 runs in the final. South Africa was another team which made its first appearance after apartheid & looked the best team throughout the world cup until that ill fateful day.
Before Duckworth-Lewis, the cricket had something called as Rain rule, which decided the course of the match upon rain intervention. South Africa had progressed to the knockout stage after winning five out of their eight matches in the league stage. In the first semi-final game, the tournament favourites New Zealand were sent home by Pakistan. South Africa & England played the second semi-final.
South African captain Kepler Wessels won the toss & elected to bowl first. England was pegged initially with the wicket of the skipper Graham Gooch. The significant partnerships for the third and fourth wicket alongside Graeme Hick impelled England close to 200 runs. Soon after Hick was dismissed, England’s lower order managed to post a decent total of 252 on the board in 45 overs. The innings had to be cut down to 45 overs due to the time restrictions owing to slow over rate.
In reply, South African batsmen scored at a healthy strike rate to keep up with the required run rate. But also, kept losing wickets at regular intervals in order to score quickly. The scoreboard read 231 for the loss of 6 wickets when rain interrupted the match at 42.5 overs mark. The equation was around 22 runs off the last 13 deliveries for South Africa to win the match.
The rain interruption led to a reduction in overs. Pertaining to the rain rules, the revised target for Proteas was 252 runs in 43 overs which meant South Africa had to score an impossible 21 runs off just one delivery. As a result, they got eliminated and England advanced to the finals. Even today, this is the most heart-breaking and contentious incident in cricketing history.
#4 India’s shocking first round exit in the World Cup 2007
Team India came into the World Cup as one of the favourites after losing in the finals of the previous edition. India had legendary players like Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, and Sachin Tendulkar in the side. There were a total of 16 teams in the World cup divided into four groups, wherein the top 2 teams of each group would progress to the Super 8 stage. India had Bermuda, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka in their group.
India faced Bangladesh in their first game, where India was humbled by the Bangladeshi bowlers to bundle the entire team for an under par score of 191 runs. In reply, Tamim Iqbal scored a commanding half-century for Bangladesh & things started to roll for them. Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al-Hasan later scored half-centuries each to coast Bangladesh to a remarkable victory and hushed the Indian team, fans around the world.
Although India overwhelmed Bermuda in their next game by a huge margin, India lost to Sri Lanka to make the early exit from the tournament. This was one of the most heart-breaking moments in the World cup and Indian cricket history.
#5 New Zealand vs South Africa 2015 World Cup semi-final
The 2015 edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup was one of the best shot for South Africa to expunge the bad memories of the past. South Africa had a very strong team with match winners in Hashim Amla, Faf Du Plessis, AB de Villiers, & Dale Steyn.
After crushing Sri Lanka by 9 wickets in the quarterfinals, Proteas entered the semi-finals in good spirit. Proteas faced the co-host New Zealand in the semis, who had an authoritative victory over West Indies in their previous match. Skipper de Villiers won the toss and elected to bat first. The protea opening pair was back in the pavilion early. Faf and Rossouw steadied the innings with handy knocks of 82 and 39 respectively. A half-century from skipper AB and a cameo from David Miller took the team’s total to 281 runs in 43 overs innings.
New Zealand had a tough task to chase the target down against a quality attack. But, NZ skipper Brendon McCullum came to all guns blazing at the Protea bowlers and gave NZ a solid start to the chase. However, quick wickets of Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, and Martin Guptill brought South Africa back in the game. The unexpected hero in Grant Elliott was determined to put on a show that night.
It all came down to the last over, with 5 runs needed off 2 balls for NZ to book the final berth. Steyn had the ball in hand with a sore hamstring near the calf. The semi-final nerves were evident in the South Africa camp & as Steyn marked his run-up. Surprisingly the pro dished out a length ball and Elliott stood his ground to pull the ball with all his might for a six over mid-on! New Zealand had shattered the dreams of another finale appearance attempt for the Proteas and tears rolled down from players like de Villiers.
The Proteas camp was in disbelief at the outcome. Most fans across the world had a tear in their eyes watching ABD and his te am go down like that.
Originally Published by sportskeeda.com