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The biggest upsets in cricket World Cup history

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Roar Rookie
22nd May, 2019

Nail-biting finishes, huge upsets, a flood of mixed emotions – the cricket World Cup has witnessed some of the finest and most heartbreaking moments in the game’s history. It is one of the most viewed sporting events worldwide.

For a cricketer, there is no trophy bigger than World Cup.

“It’s like winning the World Cup. It’s a dream come true. The West Indies are our idols, and to beat an idol is a great thing,” said Kenyan captain Maurice Odumbe after they defeated West Indies causing a major upset in 1996 World Cup.

When the cricket giants bow out from this prestigious tournament with defeat at the hands of a minnow, it comes out as a serious blow to the players.

Kenya’s win against West Indies (1996 World Cup, group stage)
Minnows Kenya stunned two-time champions West Indies by registering a historic 73-run victory in 1996 World Cup. This was Kenya’s first ever World Cup. The two teams met for Group A fixture in Pune and the analysts thought that it would be a cakewalk for West Indies.

Kenya were put to bat first and were bundled out for 166. What followed was a masterclass in bowling from Kenyan captain Maurice Odumbe.

The skipper took a three-fer and was declared as man of the match. West Indies got all-out for 93 in what was called as one of the biggest World Cup upsets at that time.

Zimbabwe’s win against Australia (1983 World Cup, group stage)
Beating Australia in 1983 World Cup must have felt awfully good as Zimbabwean players. Zimbabwe were playing their first-ever World Cup, and there weren’t many expectations for them.

Zimbabwe were facing an Aussie bowling attack that boasted Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thompson and Geoff Lawson. Lillee and Thompson were in the twilight of their careers, but you would never dare underestimate the abilities of two of the greatest pacers of their generation.


Zimbabwean captain Duncan Fletcher led from front, and the Africans put on a decent total of 6-239. Fletcher made an 84-ball 64 not out after the team was found struggling at 5-94.

Aussie openers Graeme Wood and Kepler Wessels made a 61-run first-wicket partnership after Duncan Fletcher dismissed Wood. Zimbabwe’s Captain Fantastic Duncan
Fletcher went on a rampage and took Aussie middle order on a roll.

Australia finished 13 runs short at 7-226. Zimbabwe wrote their name in World Cup folklore when they clubbed Australia in 1983 Prudential World Cup in their first-ever international match.

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Ireland’s win against Pakistan (2007 World Cup, group stage)
Ireland pulled off one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history when they went on to defeat Pakistan by three wickets in 2007 ICC World Cup. The match was played on a green Kingston track assisting the pacers. Ireland elected to field first and their bowlers did not take long to get going. Pacer Dave Langford-Smith struck the first wound as he dismissed Mohammad Hafeez in the first over itself. Pakistan were bundled out for a meagre 132.

The Pakistanis gave a befitting reply when they came on to bowl, dismissing Ireland’s first couple of wickets under 15. Irish left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman Niall O’Brien steadied the ship and made a fighting 72 in difficult conditions.

Iftikhar Anjum struck twice in the same over and Ireland found themselves on 7-113. With no twists left in the tail, captain Trent Johnson hit the winning runs. He smacked Azhar Mahmood for a six over long-on and Irish players invaded the ground as fast they could. It could not have gotten any better, with Ireland knocking Pakistan out of the World Cup on St Patricks Day.

This was a massive humiliation for the men in green, and things got even worse for Pakistan that night when coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room.

Bangladesh’s win against India (2007 World Cup, group stage)
On the day Pakistan got knocked out of 2007 ICC World Cup Bangladesh caused a huge upset by defeating India by five wickets. This was the tournament opener for both teams.

Rahul Dravid’s decision to bat first misfired as India got all out for 191. Mashrafe Mortaza caused Indian batsmen the most trouble as he scalped four wickets for 38. Half-centuries from Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan handed Bangladesh a convincing victory, and Mashrafe Mortaza was awarded man of the match for his amazing spell.

This match set the birth of a rivalry between the two cricketing teams. India were eventually knocked out of the tournament, with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh reaching the second round of Group B.


India’s win against West Indies (1983 World Cup final)
Arguably the biggest upset of them all – 25 June 1983, Indian cricket changed forever. Kapil Dev’s men trumped two-time champions to bag the first World Cup
trophy in India’s name.

The West Indies were well and truly the giants of cricket back then. Their captain, Clive Lloyd, won the toss in the final and elected to field first. The
decision instantly rewarded when Sunil Gavaskar fell to Andy Roberts, a huge wicket.

After that, Kris Srikkanth joined hands with Mohinder Amarnath for a well-made 57-run partnership before Srikkanth was caught leg before wicket to Malcolm Marshall. Kapil Dev’s men were up against the magical quartet of Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding, the bowling attack
that terrorised a whole generation.

Indian wickets kept tumbling, and when Kapil Dev departed for 15 their bad dream had come true. Useful cameos from the tail-enders gave India a glimmer of hope as they went all-out for 183.

In reply Indian bowlers struck right away. Balwinder Singh Sandhu cleaned up Gordon Greenidge. The Indian players started to dream. Madan Lal soon joined the party as he picked the crucial wickets of Sir Vivian Richards and Desmond Haynes.


The West Indies lost wickets at regular intervals and never quite got hold of the Indian bowling attack.

Mohinder Amarnath hit the final nail in the coffin as he got the last wicket of Michael Holding. Indian captain Kapil Dev lifted the World Cup trophy for the first time. No-one could quite believe what his men had done to this star-studded West Indies team.