February 5, 2011

Short, sweet and sensational

Eleven of the most memorable cameos in World Cup history
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Wasim Akram 33* (off 18) and 3 for 49 v England, 1992 final
Akram's late flurry propelled Pakistan from the realms of a solid score to a very good one, but it wasn't the last England saw of him. He nailed Ian Botham early in the chase, albeit controversially, before returning in the endgame to take full charge of the Melbourne evening. Bowling the 35th over from round the wicket, Akram pitched one short of a length and swung in at searing pace. Allan Lamb groped forward but was totally squared up as the ball changed course off the deck, zipping past his forward defensive, to knock back off stump. Chris Lewis strode out with the game in the balance, and returned a ball later, struck dumb by another guided missile: Akram pitched fuller this time, curving the ball inwards from well outside off stump. Lewis took a large stride across and was in two minds whether to play or leave. He belatedly chose the former and brought his bat down from a high back-lift, as the ball kept curling in. It burst past the chop, taking the inside edge and going on to hit the top of middle. Game Pakistan.

Ajay Jadeja 45 (off 25) v Pakistan, 1996
Jadeja's innovative assault on Waqar Younis transformed the biggest game of the tournament into the spectacle it deserved to be. By hanging back in the crease and opening up the off side, Jadeja neutered the yorker specialist and scrambled his lengths, looting 40 off his last two overs. Jadeja coaxed a cover drive and a late dab for fours, before backing away to slaughter a couple of length balls over square leg and extra cover for sixes. The late surge launched India to 287, well in excess of where they seemed to be headed when Jadeja came to the crease.

Moin Khan 31* (off 12) v Australia, 1999
Inzamam-ul-Haq and Abdul Razzaq had seen away tricky conditions to lay the foundation before Moin's audacious sortie left Australia stunned. He began with a pull shot despite being cramped for room by a Glenn McGrath bouncer, and the top edge sailed high enough to land beyond fine leg. Clearly rattled by Moin's enterprise, both McGrath and Damien Fleming landed deliveries in his hitting zone - angling in from a length around off stump. Moin responded by walking across the stumps and unfurling his patent cross-batted jabs, slamming sixes in the arc between square leg and midwicket, as Pakistan looted 108 off the last 10.

Lance Klusener 31* (off 16) v Australia, 1999
While the greatest ODI ever played teetered from side to side, the job of finishing things off fell on Klusener once again. He began by scything Fleming over point for four, but things got tight when McGrath detonated Mark Boucher's middle stump out of the ground, exposing a nervous tail. It boiled down to 16 required off eight, with the last man, Allan Donald, in. Klusener banged a rare McGrath full-toss flat and straight to long-on, but Paul Reiffel palmed the catch over the ropes. A single off the next left Klusener facing Fleming 's final over. With two savage drives off the first two deliveries, Klusener levelled the scores. Moments later a mad piece of running meant it ended in tragedy for South Africa. Klusener's impassive look as he walked back, amid the frenzy of green and gold around him, became the defining scene of what had been, until that moment, his World Cup.

Mike Veletta 45* (31) v England, 1987
In front of a massive audience at Eden Gardens, Veletta's unorthodox methods in the end overs were instrumental in taking Australia to 253. He and Allan Border added 73 runs in quick time after David Boon's dismissal, Veletta employing sweeps, deflections, quick running and improvisation against the spinners. "The gods were smiling on me," he said later. After that, excellent restrictive bowling and nervous England batting gave Australia a narrow win by seven runs. Veletta's aggressive knock had ultimately proven to be the difference in a tight contest.

Viv Richards three run-outs v Australia, 1975
Richards' fielding had a major role to play in scuppering Australia's chase in the first World Cup final. Australia had coasted to a comfortable 81 for 1 when he unleashed his first piece of brilliance, catching Alan Turner short with a neat underarm flick from square. Greg Chappell exited soon after, dismissed by another Richards direct hit, this one from the covers. The third one was the most decisive. Ian Chappell pushed the ball to the left of midwicket and started off for a run, but hesitated when he realised whom the ball was headed to. Richards fumbled and Chappell started again, with more conviction. Richards swooped, turned and arrowed back a throw, three feet above the stumps, for Clive Lloyd to break the wicket, catching Chappell well short. Australia had run out of steam, literally - there were two more run-outs before West Indies closed it out.

Henry Olonga 3 for 22 v India, 1999
Olonga's accuracy in his fourth over - an aberration in a game that featured 45 wides and 26 no-balls - kickstarted Zimbabwe's most memorable World Cup campaign so far. Robin Singh and Javagal Srinath had batted with pluck, taking India to within seven runs of victory with 11 balls and three wickets remaining. That was the cue for Olonga to run amok. Robin scooped a full delivery on off stump straight to a tumbling mid-off. Anil Kumble picked up a single before surviving a run-out chance, diving in after Srinath called him for a risky couple. The panic in the air was epitomised by Srinath's dismissal: a straight ball clattered into the stumps, eluding his ugly slog. Venkatesh Prasad was a deer in the headlights as he succumbed to the next ball, unable to guard his pad from a pacy inducker.

Kris Srikkanth 38 (off 57) v West Indies, 1983 final To score against the menace of Joel Garner and Andy Robert on a lively pitch was a problem, but Srikkanth managed in style. He upper-cut Garner over the slips before hooking Roberts with freedom for four and six. He then stamped his disdain, thumping Garner through point, riding the bounce to steer him square, and going down on one knee to essay a timeless square-drive off Roberts. West Indies threw everything at him, and Srikkanth kept playing his shots, whipping a Michael Holding lifter backward of square leg, and slamming him straight back for fours. Malcolm Marshall ended the colourful innings at 38, a score that few then imagined would be the highest of the final.

Rajab Ali 3 for 17 v West Indies, 1996
Chasing 167, West Indies were lulled into a sense of complacency, and Rajab's steady lines sent them stumbling to a nightmarish defeat. He began by hitting Richie Richardson's leg stump, and Sherwin Campbell's exit at the other end left West Indies 22 for 2. Still, with Brian Lara at the crease, few anticipated the upset that was to ensue. Lara approached the situation as he would a benefit match, playing shots at every delivery. He started off with a boundary, but swished and missed twice and survived a run-out chance in his first 10 balls. Rajab kept probing away, and got Lara to flash at one outside off stump without moving his feet. The comical wicketkeeper Tariq Iqbal used every resource he was allowed by the rules - including his pads - to take the edge. Thereafter West Indies imploded. Fittingly Rajab finished them off the way he started, pinging Cameron Cuffy's leg stump with a straight, nondescript ball.

Tamim Iqbal 51 (off 53) v India, 2007
Chasing 192, Tamim swaggered out to the crease and caned Zaheer Khan in a manner so emphatic that it broke India's spirit. To the fourth ball of the innings, Tamim went down on a knee to lash India's spearhead through point. Zaheer managed a breakthrough at the other end, but Tamim kept going after him. He punched him square, and strolled down the pitch to knife him emphatically over the covers. When Zaheer pitched up, Tamim smoked him through off side; when Zaheer banged it short, he flayed him furiously over the covers. Zaheer tried to handcuff him from round the wicket, but Tamim sauntered out of the crease and pulled him for six over long-on. His sortie had spiked India's biggest gun, and from there it was a walk in the park for the middle order.

Ricardo Powell 40* (off 18) v South Africa, 2003
Lara's ton had taken the sting out of South Africa before Powell's final assault left them gasping in its wake. Taking guard in the 44th over, Powell teed off immediately with a couple of crisp fours off Makhaya Ntini before going on to dismantle Shaun Pollock in the 47th. A late inswinger was flicked with authority through midwicket and a length ball was dumped with typical Caribbean flair over long-on for six. The last ball of the over was threaded through the covers for four more as Pollock bled 23 off his ninth - three more than he had conceded in his first eight. Powell signed off with a flourish, carving the final ball of the innings through third man, leaving the vibrant Cape Town crowd with an early warning that their evening was about to be ruined.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vishwanath on February 5, 2011, 23:59 GMT

    this is messed up. you can't ignore aravinda de silva's 66 from 47 balls in the 1996 semifinal. firstly, it would be relevant in the present context since this world cup will also be in the subcontinent. secondly sri lanka had the best opening combination - sanath and romesh - and both got out in the first over. the score was 2 for 1 - 100,000 indians were going berserk at eden gardens - aravinda walks in and starts smashing them all over the park in the most classiest way. surely this should have been mentioned.

  • Paul on February 5, 2011, 22:25 GMT

    Collis King, West Indies vs England 1979, a definative cameo!

  • Arun on February 5, 2011, 21:15 GMT

    Surprisingly, Inzy inning is missing, and lot more are missing ... what the .. Henry Olonga and Tamim Iqbal (53 if 51 is it a cameo ) is doing here.. it was complete fault of Indians the way they were playing against Zim & B'desh and lost the game ..

  • D on February 5, 2011, 20:32 GMT

    I think the most "unexpected" cameo here was Jadeja's against Pak. Until then he was not known as a big hitter, and nobody expected him to smash Waqar Younis who until that day had never been tamed by any batsman. It is mind boggling that Waqar went for 40 off 2 overs. I still remember he had figures of 8-0-27-1 till then. The extra pain for him is that Pak lost by exactly 39 runs so going for 15-16 runs in those two overs might have gotten Pak to the semi-finals.

  • vajira on February 5, 2011, 18:33 GMT

    Aravinda's 66 against India in 1996 world cup semifinal should be among the best cameos..

  • Dimuthu on February 5, 2011, 18:24 GMT

    neither the word 'cameo' nor the explanation 'short and sweet' seem to penetrate some aggressive comentors' minds. anyway, not sure Tamim's innings is a cameo :-S i think Andy Bichel's 34 incld 1x6 and 3x4 (after taking 7-20) against England in the 2003 WC is more deserving

  • Dummy4 on February 5, 2011, 18:17 GMT

    Aravinda de Silva's 66 from 40 odd balls against India in 96 semi finals

  • Dummy4 on February 5, 2011, 18:01 GMT

    how can u include Srikanth 37, jadeja 40 and tamim 50 and forget about Inzis magical 67. pathetic.very

  • D on February 5, 2011, 17:22 GMT

    @Sanjay Madhava: I've never heard jayasooriya said anything like that. May be he told you that personally!!

  • Dummy4 on February 5, 2011, 17:02 GMT

    World Cup (admittedly T20) but Yuvraj Singh 50 in 12 balls?

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