The greatest one-dayer

ESPNcricinfo staff
The confusion of the league stage was all but forgotten by the time the last ball was bowled in the semi-final at Edgbaston

World Cup

No. 7

Minnows

Bangladesh, Kenya, Scotland

Format

The 12 entrants were split into two groups, and the top three in each group went into the Super Six, carrying with them the points they had earned against the two teams who had also qualified from their group. They then played the qualifying teams from the other group, creating a final all-played-all league table, with the top four going into the semi-finals. Confused? So was everyone else.

Innovations

The Super Sixes were enough for everyone. Zimbabwe qualified at the top of their group as their defeats in the first stage came against sides who were eliminated.

Early running

Australia, the favourites, struggled, losing to Pakistan and New Zealand, and thereafter needed to win every game to avoid elimination. However, their match against West Indies was a coordinated farce, with the complex points system persuading Australia to aim for a narrow win to ensure both of them went through at New Zealand's expense. England, with home advantage, were surprisingly eliminated, mainly because Zimbabwe sprang two major upsets, defeating India and South Africa, while Sri Lanka, the holders, never remotely looked like staging anything resembling a meaningful defence. Bangladesh's defeat of Pakistan in a dead rubber sparked justified celebrations, but suspicion has since been cast over the result.

Super Six

The system of carrying forward points earned against other qualifiers meant Zimbabwe headed the table before a match had been played, although they were beaten in all three games and eliminated. India, handicapped by qualifying without a point, went out despite a convincing victory over Pakistan, and Australia also had to come from a standing start, only securing a semi-final place against South Africa with a five-wicket win in their final match against... South Africa. Pakistan topped the group, despite only winning one Super Six match (against Zimbabwe). New Zealand also went through with a solitary win.

The semis

Pakistan humbled New Zealand in the first while South Africa and Australia played out a thrilling tie. The game ended in heartbreak for South Africa, who had a lower net run-rate and were knocked out.

The final

Pakistan were at the receiving end of a humbling. The contest began half an hour late but ended at 4.35pm, well before the scheduled close.

Controversies

South Africa experimented with a radio system in their first game against India. Hansie Cronje and Allan Donald were wired up to coach Bob Woolmer in the dressing room to communicate when on the field. The match referee intervened during the drinks break and the ICC stepped in to bar the method.

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