One-man bands

ESPNcricinfo staff
Crowe shows guts, Inzi goes beserk, and Brandes finds a bunny

Martin Crowe, 100* v Australia, Auckland
The joint hosts opened the tournament in what was supposed to be Australia's first step in the defence of the 1987 prize. On an Eden Park pitch that would get slower and lower, Crowe won the toss, batted, and was determined to "show some guts". New Zealand fell to 13 for 2 and there appeared to be little use for the boundary signs held by many in the hopeful local crowd. After stabilising the innings with Rod Latham, Crowe felt the game swing when he was compiling an 118-run stand with Ken Rutherford. "The Australians started to bowl shorter," he wrote in Crowe on Crowe. "That was the innings that changed the game." Crowe gave the supporters 11 opportunities to shake their cardboard flyers and timed his finish perfectly, bringing up his century with the second-last ball. His knee was giving him trouble but there was no doubt about the strength of his stomach. Crowe was not finished after he was done batting, and his captaincy rose to the occasion. Offspinner Dipak Patel took the new ball, frustrating Australia's pace-savvy openers, and then the military-medium brigade was called into action. New Zealand won by 37 runs and Crowe was a national hero.

Eddo Brandes, 4 for 21 v England, Albury
England were favourites: not only to beat Zimbabwe but also to win the World Cup. And no one gave Zimbabwe a hope after they were shot out for 134 in the first innings here. During the break Geoffrey Boycott told Zimbabwe captain Dave Houghton his side didn't know how to rotate strike and take singles. "You watch the professionals come out after lunch," Boycott said. "They'll just knock the ball into the gaps and run their ones and twos and win this game easily." Houghton went back to his team-mates and said, "There are about 8000 people out here who still need some entertainment and the only way we can entertain is to make this game go as long as possible." His words were certainly heard by Eddo Brandes, who had Graham Gooch lbw first ball with a low, inswinging yorker. He followed that with the wickets of Allan Lamb, Robin Smith and his best friend Graeme Hick, whom he had warned the previous evening: "Good luck tomorrow, but I think you'll be my bunny." England were reduced to 43 for 5. Houghton bowled Brandes through and he responded without complaint, finishing with figures of 10-4-21-4 to secure a famous nine-run win for Zimbabwe.

Inzamam-ul-Haq, 60 v New Zealand, Auckland
Pakistan's great World Cup dream was turning into a nightmare when they needed 123 runs in the final 15 overs. That was when Inzamam-ul-Haq chose to script a fantasy. With Javed Miandad goading him on, the feisty Inzamam went berserk. The pair put on 87 runs in 10 overs as the New Zealanders were stunned into surrender. Martin Crowe, who had had a dream tournament till that night, was off the field for the Pakistan innings due to a hamstring injury and his deputy, John Wright, was a mute witness to the carnage under lights. Even their surprise weapon, Dipak Patel, whose opening eight overs had yielded a miserly 28, leaked 22 in his last two. Inzamam was unstoppable. He shuffled towards the off and heaved a full-length delivery over midwicket, and when the bowlers dragged it further outside off, he unfurled a fierce cut. Although he was run out with 36 needed to win, he had by then waltzed into the public imagination. The unknown Inzamam-ul-Haq would thereafter be Inzi, a household name. And Miandad stayed firm to take Pakistan into the final.