Going subcontinental

ESPNcricinfo staff
The fourth World Cup saw the beginning of Australian dominance

World Cup

No. 4

Format

As in 1983, but games were 50 overs per innings, not 60, to account for fewer hours of daylight on the subcontinent. There was an attempt to cheer up disappointed crowds by staging a third-place playoff between Pakistan and India, but the star players demanded too much money.

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 get 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 Richard Hadlee) their only victory. In Group B, Pakistan cruised through, but England (minus David Gower and Ian 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 semi-finals

India's hometown script started to go wrong. On a dodgy Bombay pitch, Graham Gooch spent most of his time down on one knee; he and Mike Gatting swept up 117 in 19 overs. The resulting 254 was too much, even for India's talented batting line-up. Meanwhile Allan Border's boys, fired up by Zaheer Abbas calling them a bunch of club cricketers, outplayed glamorous Pakistan in Lahore. Despite a searching spell from Imran (3 for 36), Australia eventually got to 267, with Steve Waugh hitting 18 off the final over. In reply Pakistan were in the mire at 38 for 3. Imran Khan and Javed Miandad hinted at a revival, but after their departure Pakistan just didn't have the firepower. Australia did, and Craig McDermott finished with 5 for 44, the best figures of the tournament.

The final
We didn't know it at the time, but it 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, Geoff Marsh and David Boon's 52 in the first 10 overs constituted a flyer, and the runs kept flowing as Boon top-scored with 75. But Australia's 253 seemed very gettable, until Mike Gatting, 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 Allan Lamb shepherded the tail well and Philip DeFreitas biffed the ball around, 17 from McDermott's final over was practically impossible.

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