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My favourite World Cup cliffhangers: Part 6

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5th June, 2019
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This series continues on the subcontinent in 1996, with an Aussie nail-biter against hosts India.

Mark Waugh behind Australia’s nerve-racking win over India in Mumbai, 1996
This thriller was the first day-night international in Mumbai and was dominated by two Australian Marks batting brilliantly – Mark Waugh (126) and Mark Taylor (59). They added 103 runs for the first wicket and Australia totalled 258.

Man-of-the-match Mark Waugh became the first batsman to score centuries in consecutive World Cup matches, having hit the Kenyan attack for 130 four days prior. Surprisingly Taylor was the more aggressive of the two, hitting Javagal Srinath for a six.

Venkatapathy Raju – his name more difficult to pronounce than his deliveries were to decipher by the Aussies – had Taylor caught by Srinath at long-on. Mark Waugh now took up the dominating role and reached his 50 by sweeping Raju for a six.

But Australia lost their last seven wickets for measly 23 runs, including the last three for no score, to be all out for 258 in the last five overs.

India lost 2 for 7 but recovered through Sachin Tendulkar, who scored an explosive 90 in 84 balls with 14 fours and a six as the crowd at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai chanted “Sachin, Sachin!”

He went from 12 to 56 off 25 balls, adding 73 runs with the more sedate Sanjay Manjrekar (62). As Indian flags were fluttering, Mark Waugh had Tendulkar stumped by Ian Healy.

Now seamer Damien Fleming took over. He claimed 5 for 36 and India fell 16 runs short.

Mark Waugh plays a leg glance

Mark Waugh was in imperious form during the 1996 tournament. (Credit: Adrian Murrell /Allsport)

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Windies snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against the Aussies in Mohali, 1996
What an intriguing semi-final – a certain defeat converted into an incredible win by Mark Taylor’s gallant Aussies.

Taylor decided to bat on a grassy pitch and Australia were 4 for 15. Taylor, the Waugh twins Mark and Steve and Ricky Ponting contributed only four runs between them.

The pace and swing of the West Indies’ express bowlers Curtly Ambrose and Ian Bishop destroyed Australia’s top order.

Rescued by a fifth wicket stand of 138 runs off 32 overs by Stuart Law (72 run out) and Michael Bevan (69), Australia made 8 for 207.

The Windies started brilliantly. Shivnarine Chanderpaul (80) shared a 68-run partnership with Brian Lara (45) and a 72-run stand with skipper Richie Richardson (49 not out). Chanderpaul was heading for a century but was hampered by cramps. After 41 overs they were 2 for 165, needing 43 from nine overs with eight wickets intact.

After Chanderpaul was dismissed, seven wickets fell for 37 runs. In a mesmerising spell, man of the match Shane Warne took 3 for 6.

Richardson was on strike when Damien Fleming bowled the final pulsating over. Richardson hit the first ball for a four and now the West Indies needed only six runs in five balls with two wickets remaining.

Richardson went for a suicidal single and Curtly Ambrose was adjudged run out by the video umpire. Last man Courtney Walsh heaved at his first ball and was bowled. Incredibly, Australia won by five runs with three balls remaining. The Windies had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

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“It was a game we couldn’t possibly win, yet we did, and it’s definitely the best victory I’ve been involved with in one-day cricket,” said an elated Mark Waugh.

With this win, Australia entered the final, which they lost to Sri Lanka by seven wickets in Lahore in Pakistan.

Sundries rule as minnows Zimbabwe shock India in Leicester in 1999
It was a thriller with a surprise ending. As many as 90 sundries were given away – 51 by India and 39 by Zimbabwe.

Sent in to bat, Zimbabwe scored 9 for 252. The Flower brothers Grant (45) and Andy (68 not out), as well as wides (21), dominated.

The Zimbabwe bowlers were very inaccurate, especially Henry Olonga and Heath Streak, who bowled six and eight wides respectively, as India approached their win target.

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India missed their star batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who had flown back to India following his father’s sudden death. So Sadagoppan Ramesh had to open India’s innings and top scored with 55, adding 99 runs in 19 overs with Ajay Jadeja (43) for the fourth wicket.

The match swung India’s way when Nayan Mongia hit a quick-fire 28 and tailender Javagal Srinath lifted two tall sixes.

India needed only nine runs in two overs with three wickets in hand. But the erratic Olonga turned into a match-winner, dismissing India’s last three batsmen off his second, fifth and final ball.

Zimbabwe won by three runs and Grant Flower was adjudged man of the match.