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India stun the world

How the rank outsiders who had won only one match in their previous two World Cups dethroned the mightiest outfit of the day on the biggest stage

India's biggest cricket win to date  •  Adrian Murrell/Getty Images

India's biggest cricket win to date  •  Adrian Murrell/Getty Images

World Cup No. 3
Teams 8
Minnows Zimbabwe
Format Two groups of four, as in 1979; this time, though, each team played the others in its group twice, not once, to determine the four semi-finalists. As a ploy to reduce the chance of elimination by the weather, it was a good one, even if June wasn't wet and only three of the 27 games went into a reserve day anyway. For the first time, non-Test grounds were used.
Innovations Umpires were told to apply a stricter interpretation of wides and bouncers. The result? More than twice as many wides per match as in 1979 (9.59 to 4.64). A fielding circle (actually an oval) was introduced, 30 yards away from the stumps. Four fieldsmen needed to be inside it at all times.
Early running England dominated Group A, beating Pakistan and Sri Lanka twice each, and New Zealand once. They were followed into the semis by Pakistan, who squeezed through by scoring 0.08 more runs per over than the Kiwis. In Group B, West Indies and India disposed of a disappointing Australian side and newcomers Zimbabwe. The performance of the round came from Winston Davis of West Indies, who demolished the Aussies at Headingley with a Cup-record 7 for 51.
The semis India's dark horses had been creeping up on the rails all tournament, and now they cantered unfussily past a below-par England. Yashpal Sharma and Sandeep Patil made light of a pitch which had undermined England's batsmen, and hit crashing fifties in a six-wicket win. West Indies strutted on, brushing aside Pakistan by eight wickets with more than 11 overs to go. They were helped by a display of Test-match patience from Pakistan's opener, Mohsin Khan, who scratched his way to an apologetic 70 off 176 balls. A lone boundary punctuated his 43 singles, and his team-mates succumbed to attempts to up the tempo at the other end.
The final In advance it looked like an anticlimax. It would surely be another big day for West Indies cricket, and no more than a big day out for the Indians. When India were strangled for 183, and Richards led West Indies to 50 for 1 in reply, Caribbean celebrations began. But then Madan Lal and Mohinder Amarnath - who finished their careers with a combined total of 103 wickets from 108 Tests - wobbled the ball around, and somehow took three wickets each to dismiss a disbelieving West Indies for 140. Upsets don't come much bigger.
Last hurrah It was an unhappy farewell for Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson and Rodney Marsh. Finalists in 1975, but also-rans in '83, they retired from international cricket a few months later. New Zealand's batting bedrock, Glenn Turner, played his last game for his country, and Bob Willis's creaking limbs didn't hold out much longer. It was Clive Lloyd's final World Cup too - there may never be a better chance to win three tournaments in a row.
First hurrah NZ's Martin Crowe, aged 20, announced himself on the World Cup scene with 97 in the tournament opener against England. There was a limited-overs debut for Abdul Qadir, in which he bamboozled NZ to the tune of 4 for 21, only to improve with 5 for 44 against Sri Lanka. For once he received a pasting from England (0 for 104 in two games).
Not to be forgotten In their first-ever Cup game Zimbabwe beat Australia by 13 runs, but even this looked commonplace after some chaos in Kent. Coming in to bat for India against Zimbabwe at a disastrous 17 for 5, Kapil Dev turned the tranquillity of Tunbridge Wells on its head by blasting an undefeated 175 out of 266 for 8, with 16 fours and six sixes. He put on a Cup-record 126 for the ninth wicket with Syed Kirmani, whose 24 not out was India's next-best score. Oh, and India won by 31 runs. Finally there was the mauling Martin Snedden took in New Zealand's opening match against England. With Allan Lamb in belligerent mood, his figures were an x-rated 12-1-105-2.