The ICC Cricket World Cup has seen many star Indian cricketers play and give their best performances. India has won two World Cups, the first in 1983 and the second at home, in 2011. Historically, teams who have made it to the top and won the World Cup have been teams who come together and play as a unit, with all players leveraging their strengths. The winning Indian captains, Kapil Dev and MS Dhoni, in 1983 and 2011 respectively, both lead their teams to victory with this attitude.
Today we profile five of the most memorable team India games from World Cup history; including years India didn’t win the coveted trophy.
5. India vs. Australia, 2011
The Indian cricket team, hosts of the 2011 World Cup, faced the previous years’ defending champions, Australia, at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad. In recent years the Australian cricket team had said good bye to most of their star champions when they retired; notably Adam Gilchrist, Glenn McGrath, and Matthew Hayden. This year they were led by their charismatic captain, Ricky Ponting. As they won the toss and elected to bat first, Ponting scored a magnificent 104 off 118 balls in Australia’s total of 260/6, and David Hussey contributed with a handy 38 off 26 balls towards the end.
They kept this performance up during their bowling attack with a formidable line up comprising of Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait and three spinners. India lost Sehwag before Tendulkar and Gambhir were able to stitch together a 50 plus partnership. Tendulkar was dismissed by Tait for 53 with the score still only 94/2. By the 38th over, India was 187/5, needing 74 runs off the final 12 overs. The last two recognized batsmen, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina were at the crease. What followed was an awesome display of rotating the strike and hitting boundaries when needed. Singh, who took two wickets while bowling, ended with an unbeaten 57, while Raina finished on 34 to lead India into the semifinals. Who can forget the look on their faces at that iconic moment? India overturned their poor record against the Aussies, having lost their previous five World Cup encounters, and went on to win the World Cup that year.
4. India vs Zimbabwe, 1983 World Cup
India, led by Kapil Dev, was an outsider in the 1983 World Cup, which was hosted in England. Back in the day, the format of the game required each team to bat and bowl sixty overs, ten more than the current fifty. The Zimbabwean team was led by Duncan Fletcher, who would go on to be a coach for both India and England. India won the toss and elected to bat, but very quickly their top five batsmen were sent back with the total only 17. In was felt like forever, India slumped their way to 78/7, with Kapil Dev still present at the crease. Wicket-keeper Syed Kirmani walked in when the score was 140/8, and with him at the other end of the pitch, Kapil Dev went on to score 175 runs off 138 balls, smashing 16 fours and 6 sixes. A grand total of a hundred runs scored in boundaries alone. A great counter attacking display saw India to a total of 266/8 after 60 overs, Kirmani only having contributed 24 runs in that 126 run partnership.
Zimbabwe went to bat and was off to a good start when Brown and Paterson put up 44 runs for the first wicket. A middle order slump saw them lose wickets at regular intervals and Kevin Curran was their highest scorer with 73. Eventually the Zimbabwe cricket team fell shot by 31 runs and India progressed out of the group, thanks to Kapil Dev’s heroics.
3. India vs Pakistan, 2003
Two cricketing powers, both with superstars in their teams, India and Pakistan met in a crunch game at the Centurion. Winning the toss, Pakistan set a challenging target of 274 for India, with opener Saeed Anwar scoring 101. In a bouncy pitch like that of Centurion, bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar and Wasim Akram expected to thrive with their pace and swing.
India’s diminutive opener, Sachin Tendulkar, took strike with Akhtar, the fastest bowler in the world. Tendulkar took advantage of the width he was offering in his deliveries, and smashed him for a six over point in just the second over. A now iconic moment for Indian cricket fans, Sachin smashed two more boundaries in the same over. Tendulkar went on to score 98 runs off 75 balls, with 12 fours and 1 six.
India won that game by 6 wickets, and Sachin was awarded the man of the match. India didn’t go on to win the tournament, but the sheer quality and significance of this game in Indian cricketing history puts this game on number three on our list.
2. India vs Sri Lanka, 2011 World Cup final
“Dhoni finishes it off in style. A magnificent strike into the crowd. India lift the World Cup.” Remembered by everyone, these now immortal words by Ravi Shastri saw India win the World Cup for the second time in history, beating Sri Lanka in the final.
Sri Lanka had won the toss, and elected to bat. Veteran Jayawardene scored an unbeaten century to lead Sri Lanka to 274/6 after their 50 overs.
India lost Sehwag off the second ball, LBW to Malinga and Sachin fell on just 31, when Dhoni promoted himself in a surprise decision with the score at 114-3 after 21.4 overs. In a game where Dhoni is remembered, Gambhir scored 97 crucial runs to lead India to the threshold of a second World Cup. Dhoni and Yuvraj fittingly completed the job, with Dhoni scoring 91 off 79 balls for the team. Needless to say, this World Cup winning performance earns a spot on this list.
1. India vs West Indies, 1983 World Cup Final
Number 1 on our list is the very first final where the Indian team, underdogs at the time, took on the mighty West Indies team. Haven’t been given a chance before now, Kapil Dev’s rag tag team reached the final, beating England in the semis. No one expected India to win, and it was assumed that West Indies would take home their third World Cup trophy in a row. India was only able to score a 183 runs, with West Indies bowlers like Andy Roberts giving them a run for their money.
Ready to take it home, the West Indies batters were no less. Sir Vivian Richards was holding his own at 33, having already hit seven boundaries, when a running catch changed Indian cricket forever. Richards played a Madan Lal delivery a bit too early, top edging it; Kapil Dev, who was standing at mid-on, ran backwards and comfortably took the catch. After this wicket, the West Indies panicked and the rest is history. India lifted the glorious World Cup trophy at Lords, giving rise to millions of dreams, hopes and expectations in the country. This game takes first place purely due to its impact on Indian cricket culture at large.