The Greatest Indian Performances in Cricket World Cup history
India may not be favourites to win the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, but there will be a lot of backers looking to take a Satta on Virat Kohli’s side. The tournament returns to England on May 30 and as former winners of this event, India will attract plenty of interest. One of the biggest questions that needs answering: can any player put up one of the greatest Indian performances in Cricket World Cup history?
They are also one of the strongest ODI teams around with a history of success in this format that began with a World Cup triumph in 1983. We’re all looking ahead to this year’s tournament. Before the big occasion arrives, however, let’s take a look back now at some of the greatest Indian performances in Cricket World Cup history.
What Are The Greatest Indian performances in Cricket World Cup History?
The Greatest of All
Sachin Tendulkar holds a number of World Cup batting records, some of which may never be beaten. As the 2019 Cricket World Cup approaches, Sachin has scored more runs, made more fifties and more centuries than any other player. But what was his greatest ever performance in the tournament?
His best competition certainly came in 2003. Then, Tendulkar scored no fewer than seven half-centuries and finished with the highest ever aggregate of 673 runs. As far as a best individual performance is concerned, this is tough to call. His highest ever score in the tournament was 152, but this came against a weak Namibian side. Sachin also scored two centuries against Kenya, but he managed three tons against the bigger nations too.
Everyone will have their favourite Tendulkar moment. So, we’ll just leave him here as the as the leader of the greatest Indian performances in Cricket World Cup history.
Sri Lankan Slaughter in 1999
Two performers come together for the next item on our list. Back in 1999, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid were establishing themselves as a great top order pairing. It is one that would deliver for India for many years. England cricket fans got a glimpse of this when India toured in 1996. But when the World Cup returned to the country three years later, no one was left in any doubt that these were high class talents.
A Group A game came to Taunton, a place with a reputation for high scores. But in the days when 300 was an above average score in 50 over cricket, Ganguly and Dravid were to set new records in a thrilling partnership.
Batting first, the pair came together in the first over after S Ramesh was dismissed from the fifth ball of the game. They would be together until the 46th over. By that time, Dravid had made 145, while Ganguly would go on to make a colossal 183. This remains the highest individual Cricket World Cup score by an Indian batsman.
India eventually made 373-6 and took early Sri Lankan wickets, which ultimately led to a 157 run victory. It was a feast of batting and a partnership that will live forever in the memory of those of us who were fortunate to see every ball.
Nehra Sets A Record
There have been some notable bowling performances for India at the World Cup. Many have turned critical games in the team’s favour. One of the more unusual sets of figures came in 2003. Back then, Yuvraj Singh took 4/6 in a comfortable win over Namibia.
Yuvraj is also one of four Indian cricketers to have taken five wickets in a World Cup innings. But only one player has, so far, gone one better to claim six victims. That man is Ashish Nehra, who delivered the outstanding return of 6/23 in Durban in a 2003 Group game.
England had effectively sealed their fate by refusing to play in Zimbabwe, and therefore handing their opponents a walkover win. However, victory over India in this match would have taken Nasser Hussain’s side through. Anyone taking a Satta would have found little to choose between the two teams.
India batted first and made what looked to be a modest 250/9 as Rahul Dravid top scored with 62. In reply, England lost the early wickets of Marcus Trescothick and Nick Knight. But the game was over as Nehra tore out the middle order. Two potent overs produced the wickets of Hussain, Stewart and Vaughan.
Another prize scalp followed as Nehra had Paul Collingwood caught by Virender Sehwag. Meanwhile, Craig White and Ronnie Irani were also mopped as he completed his six-fer. It wasn’t perhaps the most critical of bowling performances as India would have qualified for the next phase irrespective of the result in Durban. However, it was a brilliant display of left arm swing and seam that remains India’s best ever return in a World Cup prior to the 2019 tournament.
Dhoni’s Delight: 2011 Final
India came close to adding to their 1983 World Cup win on a number of occasions. But in an era when Australia were largely dominant, India didn’t win again for 28 years. The 2011 tournament was a joint effort between India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It was to prove to be a productive competition for two of the co-hosts.
India found themselves in Group B, where they produced that thrilling tie with England. Defeat to South Africa followed, but the team moved comfortably into the knockouts where wins over Australia and Pakistan put them through into the final. There, they faced Sri Lanka.
At that stage, skipper MS Dhoni had already built a reputation as the team’s finisher. However, he saved arguably his best ever performance for this final. Taking to the field at the Wankhede Stadium, Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat. A century from Mahela Jayawardene took them to a competitive total of 274-6 from 50 overs.
India made the worst possible start in reply, losing Virender Sehwag without a run on the board. When Sachin Tendulkar followed for just 18, Sri Lanka were favourites. The tide started to turn thanks to Gautam Gambhir’s 97. But it was Dhoni’s brilliant undefeated 91 that sealed the tie for his side.
It was perfectly paced and while the game went into the 49th over, Dhoni’s timing meant that the doubt had started to lift. With 11 balls remaining, the skipper smashed Kulasekera for six to spark wild celebrations. India had ended their long World Cup drought and the cricketing public had witnessed one of the finest acts of ‘finishing’ in the history of the game.
Indians Turn the Tide: 1983 Final
The West Indies won the first two editions of the World Cup in 1975 and 1979. So, when the tournament came back to England in 1983, most punters were looking to take a Satta on the reigning champions.
To many, India didn’t have much of a chance. Therefore, their ultimate triumph, by 43 runs over the Windies in the final, was a remarkable one. In a low scoring game, there were a number of heroes on the day. But the display by Mohinder Amarnath has since been considered as one of the all-around greatest Indian performances in Cricket World Cup history.
Batting first at Lord’s, India lost wickets on a consistent basis before eventually posting just 183 all out. Kris Srikkanth top scored with 37. But one of the keys to putting up this modest total was a marathon effort from Amarnath. ODI scoring was much slower in the 1980s. However, the number three posted 26 from 80 balls as India looked to set something that they thought was defendable.
The problem was, they were up against a great West Indian team that included Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Viv Richards and Clive Lloyd. At 50-1 with Haynes and Richards at the crease, the defending champions were en route to a win. Or, were they?
In fairness, it was Madan Lal who started the rot, claiming both Richards and Haynes in a three wicket spell. But the West Indies recovered to 119-6 and remained narrow favourites for those taking a Satta. Skipper Kapil Dev then threw the ball to Amarnath – a rare bowler who occasionally would send down some innocuous medium pace. This time, however, he was the hero, claiming the wickets of Dujon and Marshall before pinning Michael Holding LBW to seal an unlikely 43 run win.
It seems strange to suggest that a score of just 26, backed up by a spell of 3/12 with the ball, should make it onto an all-time list of the greatest Indian performances in Cricket World Cup history. But in the context of the 1983 Final, it was huge. Mohinder Amarnath had steered India to a memorable win. From that moment, India was taken seriously as a limited overs force.
There have been dozens of great displays since India first took to the World Cup stage in 1975. We only have room for five and are certain that many readers will disagree and have their own favourites. But all of these greatest Indian performances in Cricket World Cup history are definitely special.
We now hand over to Virat Kohli and his team for the 2019 Cricket World Cup. There is a challenge to the squad to produce something that could earn a place on future lists of the greatest Indian performances in Cricket World Cup history. It’s a squad packed with talent and few would take a Satta against seeing some more brilliant performances in this upcoming English summer.