Cricket is a game of uncertainties where anything is possible until the last ball is bowled. On several instances, the established nations of world cricket take it for granted that they have already pocketed a victory when they face an associate nation.
However, no matter how strong a team looks on paper, what happens on a given day is what matters at the end of the day.
The cricket World Cup over the years has had its fair share of thrills and spills. Here’s a look at the greatest upsets of all time in the quadrennial tournament.
5. Zimbabwe vs India (1999): Zimbabwe won by three runs
Zimbabwe was up against India in this group stage game at Grace Road, Leicester. Team India was missing the services of nation’s heartthrob Sachin Tendulkar, who had flown back to attend the funeral of his father.
Put into bat first, Alistair Campbell led side put up a formidable score of 252 as star batsman Andy Flower top-scored with an unbeaten 68.
In reply, the Indian team seemed confident as the target was well within reach. However, Henry Olonga and Heath Streak had different plans as they wreaked havoc by taking three wickets each.
Eventually, India fell just short off the mark. They were bowled out for 249 within 45 overs. Tendulkar’s replacement Sadagoppan Ramesh was the highest scorer as he added 55 to the scoreboard. India lost the match by three runs and everyone was shocked.
Zimbabwe continued their giant-killing exploits as they defeated South Africa later in the tournament to reach the super six. To this day, this remains to be Zimbabwe’s greatest campaign in World Cups.
4. Bangladesh vs Pakistan (1999): Bangladesh won by 62 runs
Bangladesh met Pakistan in this dead rubber match at the County Ground, Northampton. Pakistan had already reached the semi-finals whereas Bangladesh had nothing to lose but play for pride.
Asked to bat first by Pakistani skipper Wasim Akram, the Bangla Brigade scored 223/9 within the allotted 50 overs. In return, Pakistan lost their first five wickets for a paltry score of 42.
It seemed certain from that point that they would struggle to cross the line. In the end, Akram’s men managed 161 as Animul Islam led his team to a historic 62-run victory.
Khaled Mahmud picked up three wickets and became an overnight hero. He was awarded the ‘Player of the Match’ for his performance.
Bangladesh was not even a Test playing nation at that time but went back home after pulling off one of the biggest upsets of all time.
3. Ireland vs Pakistan (2007): Ireland won by three wickets
Ireland locked horns with Pakistan in this group stage match at the Sabina Park, Jamaica.
Ireland came into this game after a breath-taking encounter against Zimbabwe, which was tied. For Pakistan, this was a must-win game as they had lost their first game against hosts, West Indies.
An impressive bowling performance by Ireland, led by their pacer Boyd Rankin, resulted in a collapse in the Pakistani batting order. Inzamam-ul-Haq led side scored a paltry total of 132.
The Pakistani bowlers tried to choke the Irish batsmen who were struggling to chase down the total, initially. Wicket-keeper batsman Niall O’Brien played a crucial knock of 72 for Ireland as they went on to win the match by three wickets.
An inexperienced Irish team had sent Pakistan home to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in style. Later that night, Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer passed away under mysterious circumstances.
Over the years, Ireland has become a sort of giant-killer in World Cup matches. They also secured a stunning victory over England in 2011, when they chased down a mammoth total of 325 courtesy Kevin O’Brien.
2. Bangladesh vs India (2007): Bangladesh won by five wickets
India faced Bangladesh in both teams’ opening match at this edition of the World Cup which was played at the Queen’s Park Oval, Trinidad and Tobago.
India won the toss and decided to bat first. The two left-handed pillars of India, Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh were the only batsmen to put up any kind of resistance scoring 66 and 47, respectively. India was all out for a below par score of 191.
Mashrafe Mortaza was the pick of the bowlers as he dented the Indian batting line-up with four wickets to his credit. Spinners Mohammad Rafique and Abdur Razzak picked up three wickets each.
Bangladesh chased down the target without much fuss, courtesy half-centuries from Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan.
The Men in Blue were left red-faced and couldn’t recover from this loss. Owing to this upset, India was eliminated from the World Cup as they lost two of the three group matches.
1. Kenya vs Sri Lanka (2003): Kenya won by 53 runs
At the top spot, is the African nation of Kenya and their heroics at World Cup 2003.
In this group stage fixture, Kenya took on Sri Lanka at the Gymkhana Club ground in Nairobi. Opener Keneddy Otieno was the major contributor as he made 60 runs out of Kenya’s total of 210.
Sri Lanka in reply was bundled out for 157. Kenya recorded a memorable 53-run victory in front of their home fans. The crowd went ballistic as they were not able to believe what they had just witnessed.
Collins Obuya’s five-wicket haul made him the man of the match in one of the biggest upsets ever witnessed in the World Cups.
Kenya went onto finish ahead of South Africa, New Zealand and West Indies in the group stage, and became the only non-Test playing nation to ever reach the World Cup semi-final.
The fairytale of this Kenyan team will forever be inscribed in golden letters.
(Featured Image: FB/Cricket Ireland)
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Studied at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Delhi. Lives and breathes Football, the beautiful game.