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The 1987 World Cup in India and Pakistan

Australia win tight tournament

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Allan Border holds the World Cup aloft, Calcutta, November 1987
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Article : A brief history
Series/Tournaments: Reliance World Cup

World Cup No. 4
Teams 8
Minnows Zimbabwe

Format As in 1983 but, due to the shorter daylight hours on the subcontinent, games were 50 overs per innings, not 60. There was an attempt to cheer up disappointed crowds by staging a third-place play-off between Pakistan and India, but the star players demanded too much cash.

Innovations The first World Cup to be held away from England was also the first to feature neutral umpires.

Early running India beat Australia to the top of Group A on superior run-rate, despite losing to them by one run in the closest match of the tournament. Zimbabwe didn't disgrace themselves, but still lost every match and gave New Zealand (without the unavailable Hadlee) their only victory. In Group B Pakistan cruised through, but England (without the uninterested Gower and Botham) only qualified after a bit of a scramble. West Indies failed to reach the semi-finals for the first time, despite their 191-run annihilation of Sri Lanka.

The semis The hometown script started to go wrong. On a dodgy Bombay pitch, Gooch spent most of his time down on one knee as he and Gatting swept up 117 in 19 overs. The resulting 254 was too much even for India's talented batting line-up. Meanwhile Border's boys, fired up by Zaheer Abbas calling them a bunch of club cricketers, outplayed glamorous Pakistan at Lahore. Despite a searching spell from Imran (3 for 36), Australia eventually reached 267 as Steve Waugh hit 18 from the final over. In reply Pakistan were in the mire at 38 for 3. Imran and Miandad hinted at revival but, after their departure, Pakistan just didn't have the firepower. Australia did, amd McDermott finished with 5 for 54, the best figures of the tournament.

The final We didn't know it at the time, but this was the start of Australia's march to world domination. They won the toss and, as most teams had done throughout the tournament, chose to bat first. In the days before pinch-hitters, Marsh and Boon's 52 in the first ten overs constituted a flyer, and the runs kept flowing as Boon top-scored with 75. But with Gatting in command, their 253 seemed very gettable, until the captain felt the need to reverse-sweep Border's first ball; it took the top edge, bounced off his shoulder, and was snapped up by Greg Dyer behind the stumps. England were struggling from then, and though Lamb shepherded the tail well and DeFreitas biffed the ball around, 17 from Craig McDermott's final over was practically impossible.

Last hurrah Gavaskar, having hit his first and only ODI ton against NZ, and averaged 50 in the tournament, made his last international appearance. Fittingly, it was at Bombay, his home ground. Imran announced the first of his many retirements - but went on to win in 1992. Viv Richards, playing in his fourth World Cup, bid an apt adieu with a tournament-record 181 against Sri Lanka.

First hurrah Sidhu and Moody made their ODI debuts in the same match: Sidhu finished the tournament averaging 55, Moody just 5. Phil Simmons made a couple of fifties and a sparkling 89 against Sri Lanka. Tim May and Andrew Jones rather dribbled onto the international scene.

Not to be forgotten Courtney Walsh, normally the most reliable of death bowlers, had a terrible time. Allan Lamb and Co. took 30 off his last two overs as England scraped a two-wicket win, then Pakistan's last-wicket pair needed 14 from one over to sneak home. Qadir hit a straight six, before Walsh sportingly opted to warn Salim Jaffer for backing up too far, rather than just run him out. When West Indies lost, he received a carpet from a grateful Karachi firm, and a carpeting from the media.


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