World Cup No. 11
Ireland, Scotland, Afghanistan, UAE
Soon after the 2011 World Cup, the ICC announced its intent to have the next edition feature just the ten Full Members, but after considerable criticism from Associate nations, some of whom, like Ireland, had beaten Full Members in matches in the 2011 edition, the ICC went back to 14 teams, once again divided into two groups of seven as in 2011. Each team played every other in its group before the best four teams from each group qualified for the quarter-finals.
The Super Over was reintroduced in case of a tie in the final.
Afghanistan qualified for their first World Cup but caused barely a ripple, winning only against Scotland. New Zealand topped Group A, crushing England and edging Australia with a one-wicket win in a low-scoring thriller. Bangladesh caused the biggest upset in the group stage by knocking a dismal England out of the tournament. India dominated Group B, with their sixth straight win over Pakistan in World Cups for 23 years running, and beating South Africa for the first time ever in the World Cup. An impressive Ireland seemed determined to head to the quarters after tying for fourth place with West Indies and Pakistan, all with three points each, but lost out on run rate.
A marauding South Africa steamrolled Sri Lanka, winning by nine wickets. India coasted to an easy win over Bangladesh, led by Rohit Sharma's 137 and helped in small part by umpiring errors. Poor batting by Pakistan sent Australia through, and New Zealand made it past West Indies on the back of Martin Guptill's unbeaten 237 - the first double-hundred in a World Cup quarter-final and the second highest ODI score of all time.
Rain, injury, drama - the first semi-final had all the makings of a legendary match. New Zealand, who had been six times unlucky in World Cup semi-finals, were chasing 282 against South Africa before the rain came down and Duckworth-Lewis waded into play. Needing 12 off the last over, they went into the final with a six by Grant Elliot launched off an injured Dale Steyn. In the second, India, the title holders, were neatly divested of a finals berth by Michael Clarke's unerring captainship of Australia and a match-winning 105 from Steven Smith.
New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat first at the MCG, but lost Brendon McCullum in the very first over to an inswinging yorker from Mitchell Starc. New Zealand posted only 31 in the first ten, and were 39 for 3 soon after. It fell to the hero of the semi-final, Grant Elliot, and Ross Taylor to lift the score with a 111-run partnership. Still, that meant they finished on only 183. Australia seemed to stutter when Aaron Finch looped an inswinger back to Trent Boult in the second over, leaving for a duck, but a rallying 45 from David Warner, and half-centuries from Smith and Clarke wound the innings up in 34 overs to hand Australia their fifth World Cup.
Playing against Australia, England's James Taylor was two runs away from his maiden ODI century when umpire Aleem Dar called lbw on a delivery from Hazlewood. Taylor reviewed and the decision was reversed, but England had also attempted a run, during which James Anderson had been run out. The run-out was upheld, ending the match, but given it came after the lbw decision, it ought not to have been. The ICC conceded later that the game had ended incorrectly.
In the second quarter-final, Rohit Sharma lobbed a waist-high full toss to deep square leg, where it was caught. Even as fans celebrated, umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould called a no-ball, but DRS showed it wasn't. The on-field decision prevailed, fans outraged, and Rohit went on to score 137. The ICC president at the time, Mustafa Kamal, waded into the controversy, publicly implying bias on the part of the umpires, which swiftly earned him a rebuke and led to him being left out of the trophy presentation at the finals.
Kumar Sangakkara walked in to bat after Sri Lanka lost both their openers in the first five overs against South Africa in the quarter-final. He was still standing when the eighth wicket fell, on 116, and they crashed out of the World Cup shortly after. It wasn't the swansong he wanted, or deserved, but he went one better over Mahela Jayawardene, whose last ODI ended in 13 minutes and 16 balls. Two days later, Misbah-ul-Haq unexpectedly called time on his ODI career despite having had a fairly fruitful World Cup, and Shahid Afridi announced his "final" retirement from ODIs after Pakistan lost their quarter-final to Australia.
Clarke had announced his intention to quit after the World Cup, and in his last match he led Australia to the World Cup title with an unbeaten 74 off 72 balls. Vice-captain Brad Haddin's retirement was more of a surprise, announced even as the team celebrated their win. An injury-plagued Daniel Vettori departed the game as well, finishing as New Zealand's top ODI wicket-taker with 297 wickets, followed by the second man on that list, Kyle Mills, who was part of the World Cup squad but didn't play a match.