ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Top Performances

King Viv flays the Lankans

Once Richards got going, Ratnayeke and Co had nowhere to hide

Dileep Premachandran

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It was Richards at his vintage best against the hapless Lankans © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Ravi Ratnayeke | Sir Viv Richards
Series/Tournaments: Reliance World Cup

Viv Richards
181 v Sri Lanka, 7th match, 1987

West Indies' World Cup campaign hadn't started brightly, with a magnificent late charge from Allan Lamb seeing England home in the opening match against them. It was just Sri Lanka's luck that they ran into a side smarting from that early reverse.

It didn't start too badly for them though, with Ravi Ratnayeke bowling Carlisle Best and then having Richie Richardson caught behind first ball. When Vivian Richards walked out, his first task was to avoid the hat-trick and stabilise the innings. He had produced a 27-run cameo against England, but it was clear from the outset that he had much more in store for those assembled inside Karachi's National Stadium.

He started sedately enough, taking 62 balls for 50, but thereafter the Sri Lankan bowlers were dismissed to all parts, like puffs of cotton in front of a fan. His tenth one-day international century, unprecedented at the time, took just 97 balls, and the last 81 runs then came from just 33 deliveries.

Vinothan John had bowled a tidy spell, and Don Anurasiri had conceded just 39 from his 10 overs, but every other bowler fell the full impact of the Richards onslaught. In the midst of the mayhem, Desmond Haynes' accomplished hundred was largely forgotten. The two added 182 in 177 balls, with Richards smacking six sixes and 16 fours in a blazing innings that spanned just 125 balls. The hapless Asantha de Mel went for 97 from his 10, and Ratnayeke, dreams of hat-trick glory rudely snatched away, was thumped for 44 in two overs.

Three years earlier, the pre-eminent batsman of his age had savaged England to the tune of 189 at Old Trafford, and but for a mishit in the latter stages of this innings, he might well have become the first man to score 200 in a one-day innings. As it was, West Indies finished on 360 for 4, the highest score in a World Cup game - till Sri Lanka themselves eclipsed it nine years later.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to MyIndia.com followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and total-cricket.com. Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.

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