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21.02.2019  Author: C.NAMASIVAYAM

The 50-over Cricket World Cup is a mega event which happens once in every 4 years. India had participated in all the 11 previous editions of the World Cup and had won the trophy on 2 occasions, in 1983 and 2011.

The Asian teams, except Bangladesh, have been fortunate enough in winning the World Cup at least once. However, amongst the SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) countries, only Australia had managed to win the Cup for a record number of 5 times.

While South Africa was termed as habitual chokers, England and New Zealand were always the dark horses in every edition of the World Cup. The team from the Caribbean was dominant in the early editions of the World Cup before they faded away.

In this article, let us revisit Team India's one memorable win in each edition of the World Cup. Since India had won only one match against East Africa in the first 2 editions of the World Cup in 1975 and 1979, that has been ignored. Aside, the 2007 World Cup is not touched upon since India was knocked out in the preliminary rounds.

India vs West Indies finals at Lord's in World Cup 1983

Team India surprised one and all by reaching the final of the World Cup 1983. The final was against the two-time champions, the West Indies. The Indians needed a final thrust to create history.

Whatever slim chance India had of winning the final, evaporated into thin air the moment Clive Lloyd won the toss and sent India in to bat on a green top at Lord's. Andy Roberts accounted for Sunil Gavaskar early in the innings. Thankfully for India, Srikkanth was in his usual belligerent mood as he treated the four pronged Windies attack to disdain.

Srikkanth counterattacked with 7 fours and one six in an innings of 38 before perishing to Malcolm Marshall. When he was returning to the pavilion, Srikkanth never knew his 38 would remain the highest score of the final.

Mohinder Amarnath and Yashpal Sharma took India's score to a decent position at 90 for 2 before things started happening.

The "Whispering Death" Michael Holding sent Amarnath's off-stump cartwheeling. Then the part-time off-spin of Larry Gomes produced two crucial wickets of Yashpal Sharma and Kapil Dev. From a position of strength at 90 for 2, India slipped to 111 for 6 and was finally bundled out for 183.

In reply, Gordon Greenidge got out to a beauty from Balwinder Sindhu. But Richards was in a brutal mood to finish off the match early as he reached 33 off 28 balls with 7 fours. It was now or never for Team India. That was when the Indian captain Kapil Dev took that miraculous catch, running back 20 yards to dismiss the dangerous Richards. That caused panic in the West Indies camp as they lost Larry Gomes, Clive Lloyd and Bacchus in no time. Madan Lal accounted for 3 wickets in the middle overs.

At 76 for 6 chasing 183, West Indies were in danger of losing the match. The 43-run partnership for the seventh wicket between Jeff Dujon and Marshall caused some anxious moments to the Indian cricketers and the fans.

However, India had Jimmy Amarnath to wade his magic with the ball as he accounted for both Dujon and Marshall. When Amarnath trapped the last wicket of Michael Holding in front of the wickets, the world came to a standstill as India attained glory for the first time in a World Cup.

India vs New Zealand at Nagpur in World Cup 1987

This was the last group match of reliance World Cup 1987. India has already qualified for the semi-finals while New Zealand was out of it. But India's run rate was lower than Australia's.

India had to improve their run rate against New Zealand to go past Australia and top the group. If they failed to do so, they would have been forced to travel to Lahore to meet Pakistan in the semi-finals. Hence the inconsequential final group stage match had suddenly assumed huge significance for India.

The New Zealand captain Jeff Crowe won the toss and made India's job easier by electing to bat first. Now India could go for the target within a specified number of overs to stay away from Pakistan. But for that to happen, India had to first restrict New Zealand to a reasonable target.

New Zealand had a steady start and reached 181 for 4. Lahore was weighing on the psyche of the Indian players. At the nick of time, Shastri gave India the vital breakthrough by terminating Dipak Patel's innings for 40.

Chetan Sharma took over from thereon as he cleaned Ken Rutherford, Ian Smith and Chatfield off successive deliveries. In the process, Chetan Sharma became the first bowler to take a hat trick in a World Cup and that too by clean bowling all his victims. Chetan Sharma restricted New Zealand's total to a manageable 221.

India needed to reach the target in 42 overs @5.26 runs per over to meet England in the semi-finals at home. In those days, that was not an easy target. But India had an unexpected hero in Sunil Gavaskar. Sunny, playing his penultimate International innings, matched his more aggressive partner Krish Srikkanth stroke by stroke.

The openers put on 136 runs before Srikkanth was dismissed for 75 off 58 balls with 9 fours and 3 sixes. Gavaskar raced to his maiden ODI hundred in his 107th ODI off 85 balls with 10 fours and 3 sixes. India reached the target in a mere 32 overs @6.96 runs per over.

In the end, it was a facile win for Team India and the match will be remembered for Chetan Sharma's hat trick and Gavaskar's maiden ODI hundred at less than a run a ball.

India vs Pakistan at Sydney in World Cup 1992

When India met Pakistan at Sydney in World Cup 1993, both teams were at the brink of elimination. India batted first and was helped by contributions from Ajay Jadeja (46), Sachin Tendulkar (54) and Kapil Dev 35), and reached 217 for 7.

India tasted immediate success when the opening bowlers Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar struck with a wicket apiece. However, Pakistan had Aamer Sohail and the veteran Javed Miandad to see them through to 100 for 2. That was when the man with the Golden arm, Sachin Tendulkar induced an uppish drive from Sohail which was pocketed by Srikkanth.

Prabhakar in his comeback spell knocked out the dangerous Salim Malik and Imran Khan was run out without scoring. Now Pakistan's hope rested on the shoulders of Javed Miandad. He was not his usual self on that day as he struggled to reach 40 off 110 balls before he was yorked by Srinath. India in the end won by 43 runs.

India vs Pakistan quarterfinals at Bangalore in 1996

India and Pakistan met in the quarterfinals of the World Cup 1996. Just before the start of the match, Pakistan was dealt a huge blow when their captain and star bowler Wasim Akram had to withdraw at the last minute due to a niggle. Aamer Sohail captained the then-defending champion Pakistan in that crucial do-or-die quarterfinal.

After electing to bat, India made steady progress when opener Navjot Sidhu scored 93. With meaningful contribution from the middle order, India reached 236 for 6 in the 46th over. Waqar Younus started the 48th over with Ajay Jadeja on strike.

Jadeja started off with two flicks to mid-wicket for huge sixes and finished the over with a boundary as 22 runs came off that over. Anil Kumble and Srinath too joined in the fun, clouting a couple of fours each. India plundered 57 runs in the last 4 overs to reach a formidable score of 287.

Jadeja made all the difference with an innings of 45 off 25 balls at a strike rate of 180. When the Indian innings ended, the Pakistani fans started muttering that their team would have been better off had, by a quirk of fate, Waqar too missed the match like Wasim. Both Waqar and Aaqib Javed conceded 67 runs each.

Pakistan began their reply in a grand fashion as both the openers Aamer Sohail and Syed Anwar blazed away to 84 in 10 overs. Anwar had always been India's nemesis and he was at it yet again. Even the introduction of Anil Kumble did not stem the flow of runs. Finally, Srinath gave India the breakthrough by sending back Anwar.

Sohail was in terrific form as he reached his 50 off 44 balls. Then the match-turning event happened. Sohail drilled Venkatesh Prasad to the extra cover fence and showed his bat to Prasad as if to suggest that the bowler should go and fetch the ball.

This got Prasad going as his next ball was right on the stumps and Sohail's hoick missed the mark and his off-stump was sent flying. Now it was Prasad's turn to send off Sohail with some unfriendly gesture. That wicket was the turning point of the match as Venkatesh Prasad went on to dismiss Ijaz Ahmed and Inzamam-ul-Haq in that emotional spell of bowling.

Javed Miandad, playing in his last International match, and Salim Malik did their best to keep Pakistan in the hunt but the target was too high even for their experience. India won that match by 39 runs.

India vs England at Birmingham in World Cup 1999

Before this match started, everyone was made to believe that England was almost through to the Super Sixes, irrespective of the outcome of their match against India. It was India who was struggling to proceed to the next stage of the tournament.

England asked India to bat first. For India, the top 6 batsmen contributed with Rahul Dravid scoring a fifty and Ganguly a 40. India reached a decent score of 232 on a bowler-friendly wicket.

For India, Debasis Mohanty struck immediately when he got the wickets of Alec Stewart and Graeme Hick off successive deliveries. England struggled to reach 70 for 2 in 19 overs when bad light set in. The play was about to be called off to be continued on the next day which was the reserve day.

Just before stumps were drawn for the day, Sourav Ganguly knocked off Nasser Hussain's stumps in fading light. That brought India back into the game. But there was a lot of uncertainty over the dodgy weather on the reserve day.

The Indians had to spend one anxious night before play resumed on the reserve day. Had it rained on the reserve day, England would have reached the next stage while India would have headed home.

When play resumed on the reserve day, India was lucky to get the crucial wicket of Graham Thorpe who was adjudged LBW when the ball would have conveniently missed the sixth stump. India needed that little bit of luck to stay alive in the competition.

After that, it was only a procession as the Indian bowlers led by Ganguly terminated the England innings at 169. The home team England, who was almost assured of a place in the Super Sixes, suddenly bowed out of the tournament. India made it to the next round at the cost of England.

India vs England at Durban in World Cup 2003

This was another crucial match of World Cup 2003 for both the teams. After electing to bat, India reached a good score of 250 on the back of contributions from Rahul Dravid (62), Sachin Tendulkar (50) and Yuvraj Singh (42). It was now left to the Indian bowlers to go for the kill on a seamer-friendly Durban wicket.

England's innings started on a disastrous note when Nick Knight was run out by Mohammad Kaif in the very first over. Zaheer Khan took care of the other opener Trescothick. England limped to 50 for 2 in 15 overs. Earlier Ashish Nehra was introduced into the attack in the 13th over of the innings.

Nehra straightaway got into his rhythm as he had Naseer Hussain caught behind in his third over. Off the next delivery, Alec Stewart was trapped in front. Off the last ball of his fourth over, Nehra had Michael Vaughan's wicket. By then he was unstoppable.

Nehra bowled unchanged for 10 overs and finished with figures of 6 for 23. The England batsmen had no clue to his outswingers as one after the other were caught behind the wicket and in the slip cordon. India won that match by a huge margin of 82 runs.

India vs Sri Lanka, World Cup final at Mumbai in 2011

India and Sri Lanka, the co-hosts, were pitted against each other in the final of the World Cup 2011. The Sri Lankans had moved out of Sri Lanka for the first time in the tournament to face the other host India at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

The match started with confusion around the toss. Sangakkara won the re-toss and elected to bat. Zaheer started the innings with 3 consecutive maidens. Tharanga was caught by Sehwag in Zaheer Khan's fourth over. Zaheer finished his first spell with figures of 5-3-6-1. This was in quite a contrast to his spell in the final of the World Cup 2003 where he leaked 30 runs in his first 3 overs.

For Sri Lanka, the two senior statesmen, Sangakkara and Jayawardene took over the proceedings in the final of a World Cup. Jayawardene finished with a fabulous hundred off 88 balls. Sri Lanka reached 274 after some lusty hits from Thisara Perera. The target set by Sri Lanka was a substantial one in the final of a World Cup.

Lasith Malinga gave Sri Lanka a flying start by taking Sehwag out of circulation off the second ball of the Indian innings. Malinga made his opening spell memorable with the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar in his 4th over.

Gambhir yet again was playing a crucial knock in a crucial final. Gambhir was always India's big match player and go-to man for the skipper. He was lucky to be dropped on 30 by Kulasekara. He got a second life on 47 when Sangakkara could not collect the throw from the deep cleanly to effect the run-out.

Gambhir reached his 50 off 56 balls and the Indian score crossed 100 in the 20th over for the loss of 2 wickets. Just when Muralidharan was brought into the attack, Kohli gave away his wicket to Dilshan.

When everyone was expecting the player of the tournament Yuvraj Singh to walk in at the fall of Kohli's wicket, the Indian skipper M.S. Dhoni surprised all and sundry by bringing himself on to tackle Muralidharan.

But before facing Muralidharan, Dhoni got a second life on 0 when Sangakkara failed to gather the ball to complete a difficult stumping chance. That was the change in fortune that Dhoni was looking for, who otherwise had a poor World Cup outing until then.

Dhoni continued to struggle against Muralidharan and Dilshan and reached 12 off 21 balls. It was Gambhir who took the responsibility to score all the runs during Dhoni's initial struggle. Gambhir moved into the 80s when Dhoni showed glimpses of coming back to form when he flashed Perera to cover fence. Dhoni slowly gained confidence and reached his 50 off 52 balls.

Gambhir and Dhoni added 109 runs for the fourth wicket before Gambhir charged down the wicket to lose his wicket for 97. Though he missed scoring a hundred in a World Cup final, he had done his job for his team. He was the unsung hero for India on the day of the final.

When Gambhir got out, India needed 52 off 52 balls. But Dhoni was in total control of the chase as Dhoni moved from 60 to 91 off a mere 18 balls. Kulasekara and Malinga were hit out of their attack in their final spells as India raced to the target in the 48th over.

Dhoni finished off the match in style, lifting Kulasekara over long-on for a six. India managed to triumph in a World Cup after a gap of 28 years. Dhoni, whose previous score in a World Cup match was 34, went on to play the most defining one-day innings ever played by an Indian in a final of a tournament.

India vs Zimbabwe at Auckland in World Cup 2015

In the league stages of World Cup 2015, India managed to beat all the opposition in sight and were assured of a place in the quarter-finals before meeting Zimbabwe in the last league match at Auckland.

Zimbabwe scored a competitive 287 with a century from Brendon Taylor (138) and a fifty from Sean Williams. In reply, India lost both the openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan with the score on 21. When India's chase master Kohli departed in the 23rd over, India was struggling at 92 for 4.

Dhoni joined Suresh Raina with India needing 196 in 27 overs @7.25. The first 50 off their partnership came off 57 balls and Raina reached his individual 50 off 67 balls. The partnership touched 100 runs off 101 balls, out of which Raina's contribution was 59.

Dhoni got into his act a little later with a 50 off 56 balls. Zimbabwe slowly started to lose hope as the 5th wicket partnership crossed 150. Raina duly reached his maiden World Cup 100 off 94 balls with 8 fours and 4 sixes. Finally, when the target was reached in the 49th over, Dhoni was unbeaten on 85 off 76 balls. India completed their highest successful run chase in a World Cup match.

India continued their winning momentum right through the semi-finals. In the 2015 World Cup, India won their first 7 matches before they ran into host Australia in the semi-finals.