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.
Umpires were told to be stricter with wides and bouncers. As a 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 had to be inside it at all times.
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 New Zealand. In Group B, West Indies and India disposed of a disappointing Australia side and newcomers Zimbabwe. The performance of the round came from West Indies' Winston Davis, who demolished the Aussies at Headingley with a World Cup record of 7 for 51.
India, the dark horse, 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 that had undermined England's batsmen, and hit 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.
In advance it looked like an anti-climax. 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.