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George Binoy and Travis Basevi dig into our stats database

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England's shock win, and tales of other upsets

This week's List features teams that have won tournaments after losing a lot of games and teams that have lost trophies after dominating for the major part

Travis Basevi and George Binoy

February 14, 2007

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Against all odds and form, England blindsided Australia to sweep the CB Series finals 2-0 © Getty Images
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After the first six rounds of the Commonwealth Bank Series, Australia were sitting pretty with six wins out of six and England were out for the count with just one measly victory. Michael Vaughan said it was the lowest he'd ever seen England, Ian Bell admitted they were at 'rock bottom'. You might have got better odds on India qualifying for the football World Cup than England winning the CB Series. But they did, and left a few punters a lot richer. Australia had won seven of their eight group matches but were thrashed soundly on the home straight. This week's List features teams that have won tournaments after losing a lot of games and teams that have lost trophies after dominating for the major part.

Australia pulled off a similar heist in the tri-series 1997-98 when Allan Donald spearheaded South Africa to seven wins out of eight during the group stage. Australia made the final because of their wins against New Zealand but then lost the opener to South Africa. The next two final matches had Steve Waugh open the bowling with Mark Waugh's offspin and Adam Gilchrist weighing in with a century as Australia pipped South Africa at the post.

About a year before that series, South Africa were once again rampant in India during the Titan Cup, which featured Australia as well. Australia didn't win a game and India were never close to beating South Africa, who won all their six matches. Their batsmen hadn't failed them once in the series but they faltered while chasing 220 in the final. Anil Kumble took 4 for 25 and South Africa were scuttled for 185. A few months earlier, South Africa had marched to the quarter-finals of the 1996 World Cup with robotic efficiency. Then they came up against Brian Lara, smarting from humiliating defeat against Kenya, who knocked them almost single-handed out of the tournament. It was about this time that South Africa began to acquire the "chokers" tag.

Most matches lost whilst winning the tournament
Team P W T NR L Win %
Australia 11 5 0 0 6 45.4
Carlton & United Series, 1997/98
Australia 12 7 0 0 5 58.3
Benson & Hedges World Series Cup, 1982/83
England 10 5 0 0 5 50.0
Commonwealth Bank Series, 2006/07
Australia 14 9 0 1 4 69.2
Benson & Hedges World Series Cup, 1980/81
West Indies 14 10 0 0 4 71.4
Benson & Hedges World Series Cup, 1981/82
West Indies 11 7 0 0 4 63.6
Benson & Hedges World Series, 1988/89
Australia 11 7 0 0 4 63.6
Benson & Hedges World Series, 1993/94
England 10 6 0 0 4 60.0
Benson & Hedges World Series Cup, 1986/87
Pakistan 10 6 0 0 4 60.0
Carlton & United Series, 1996/97
South Africa 10 6 0 0 4 60.0
VB Series, 2001/02
West Indies 9 5 0 0 4 55.5
Benson & Hedges World Series Cup, 1979/80

Click here for the more tables.

By the summer of 1998, Australia were sick at the sight of Sachin Tendulkar, who'd flogged them during the Test series in India. In April, Australia took on New Zealand and India in a tri-series in Sharjah. Australia coasted through to the final by winning all four group matches, though their last victory against India was overshadowed by Tendulkar who hit 143 off 131 balls. The final coincided with Tendulkar's 25th birthday and he marked the occasion by smashing another century that left Australia in second place.

In the season before the 1992 World Cup, New Zealand gave no indications of what they would do in the tournament. They had lost 14 of the 22 ODIs in the 1990-91 season but they beat Australia in the World Cup opener and then won their next six games. In their last group match they found Pakistan - Wasim Akram in particular - too hot to handle. In the semis they faced Pakistan again and this time came a cropper against Inzamam-ul-Haq's slog-over assault.

Most matches won but not winning the tournament
Team P W T NR L Win %
South Africa 7 6 0 0 1 85.7
Titan Cup, 1996/97
India 11 9 0 0 2 81.8
ICC World Cup, 2002/03
New Zealand 9 7 0 0 2 77.7
Benson & Hedges World Cup, 1991/92
West Indies 8 6 0 0 2 75.0
Prudential World Cup, 1983
South Africa 11 8 0 0 3 72.7
Carlton & United Series, 1997/98
South Africa 9 6 1 0 2 72.2
ICC World Cup, 1999
Australia 10 7 0 0 3 70.0
Commonwealth Bank Series, 2006/07
England 10 6 0 1 3 66.6
Benson & Hedges World Cup, 1991/92
Pakistan 10 6 0 0 4 60.0
ICC World Cup, 1999
Australia 11 6 0 0 5 54.5
Benson & Hedges World Series, 1988/89
New Zealand 12 6 0 0 6 50.0
Benson & Hedges World Series Cup, 1982/83
New Zealand 14 6 0 1 7 46.1
Benson & Hedges World Series Cup, 1980/81

Click here for the more tables.

Curiously, like New Zealand against Pakistan, there have been several instances of one team being dominant but losing to a particular team twice and hence exiting a World Cup. In 2003, India beat everyone else but got hammered by Australia once in the group stage and then in the final. South Africa lost to Australia in the Super-Six stage in 1999 and hence got knocked out after their tied semi-final at Edgbaston. In 1996, security issues prompted Australia to forfeit their group match against Sri Lanka before losing the final to them. And in 1983, West Indies lost the tournament opener and then failed to complete a hat-trick of World Cup victories by losing to India in the final.

George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo. Travis Basevi is the man who built Statsguru. If there's a particular List that you would like to see, e-mail us with your comments and suggestions.

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George Binoy Assistant Editor After a major in Economics and nine months in a financial research firm, George realised that equity, capital and the like were not for him. He decided that he wanted to be one of those lucky few who did what they love at work. Alas, his prodigious talent was never spotted and he had to reconcile himself to the fact that he would never earn his money playing cricket for his country, state or even district. He jumped at the opportunity to work for ESPNcricinfo and is now confident of mastering the art of office cricket

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