When I was a young lad, my dear maternal grandfather used to take me to watch my heroes play at the SCG.
The 2007 Cricket World Cup provided three thrillers.
Malinga’s mesmerising spell, Guyana, 2007
With Tillakaratne Dilshan Dilshan (58 runs) and Russel Arnold (50) adding 97 for the sixth wicket Sri Lanka was cruising at 5-195. Just then swing bowler Charl Langeveldt took control and Sri Lankans lost their last five wickets for 14 runs to be dismissed for 209 in 49.3 overs.
Aggressive skipper Graeme Smith (59) and steady-as-a-rock Jacques Kallis (86) put on 94 for the second wicket. Legendary spinner Muttiah Muralitharan took three early wickets before hairy scary fast bowler with a pronounced round arm slingy action, Lasith Malinga, took over. He created history by becoming the first bowler to capture four wickets in four balls.
Malinga clean bowled Shaun Pollock for 13 off his fifth ball and had Andrew Hall caught by Tharanga in the covers for a first-ball duck. From the other end Chaminda Vaas bowled an economical over conceding only one run. Back to the slingy Malinga.
He dismissed the well-set Kallis caught behind by Kumar Sangakkara for 86 to get his hat-trick and bowled new batsman Makhaya Ntini for a duck to achieve his unique super hat-trick – four wickets off four deliveries.
The Proteas, now 9-207, still needed three runs to win. Bowling hero Langeveldt took a single. With two runs required for victory Robin Peterson edged a four off the second Malinga delivery. South Africa won by one wicket with four balls in hand.
Malinga and Langeveldt were the joint men of the match.
The best compliment Malinga received was from the opposing captain Graeme Smith: “He made me age a few years”.
Lankans beat the Poms by two runs at Antigua, 2007
This match was the fourth cliffhanger in three weeks. Sent in to bat Sri Lanka scored 235 (Upul Tharanga 62, Mahela Jayawardene 56, fast medium Sajid Mahmood taking 4- 50 and fast bowler Andrew Flintoff 3-35).
Despite 47 from Ian Bell and 58 from Kevin Pietersen, England was struggling at 6-133. Ravi Bopara (52) and Paul Nixon (42) came to their rescue, adding 87 runs, and England looked the winner. Now they needed seven runs from last four balls from fast medium bowler Dilhara Fernando. In sweaty suspense, it came down to three runs from the last ball with in-form batsman Bopara on strike.
Bopara swung the bat but was bowled by Fernando and Sri Lanka won by two runs.
Lara’s farewell tinged with a one-wicket loss, Bridgetown, 2007
England’s Kevin Pietersen hit a dashing century and victorious skipper Michael Vaughan shone with both ball and bat but it was West Indies legend Brian Lara who received maximum applause in his farewell international appearance.
Vaughan must have regretted sending West Indies to bat as their openers Chris Gayle (a blistering 79) and Devon Smith (61) put on 131 runs. Gayle’s 50 came off 29 deliveries. Receiving a standing ovation, Lara hit three magnificent fours before being run out by Pietersen for 18. Marlon Samuels scored 57 and West Indies totalled 300 off 49.5 overs, Vaughan taking 3-39 with his loopy spin.
Vaughan opened the England batting scoring 79 and man of the match Pietersen a quick 100. When he was dismissed England needed 32 runs to win from 22 balls with three wickets remaining. Off the fifth ball of the final over from Dwayne Bravo, Stuart Broad hit a two and England won by one wicket.
Now moving on to the Indian subcontinent in 2011-12.
England and India engaged in a thrilling tie, Bengaluru in 2011
This was the fourth and so far the last tie in the history of the World Cup.
The 2010-11 World Cup belonged as much to India as to their hero Sachin Tendulkar, who packed stadia with his fluent stroke play. He stroked 120 as India compiled 338 off 49.5 overs.
In the 46th over India was going great guns at three for 305 with Tendulkar ably supported earlier by Gautam Gambhir hitting 51 and Yuvraj Singh scoring 58. Tim Bresnan was the most effective bowler taking 5-48.
England boldly took up the challenge of scoring 339 – a record chase in World Cup.
England’s captain and man of the match Andrew Straus made 158 runs, England’s highest World Cup innings, as England chased India’s 338. Strauss and Ian Bell 69 added 170 aggressive runs for the third wicket and England was in the game at 2-280 in the 42nd over. They needed 59 runs in eight overs, a gettable run rate of 7.37.
But India’s fast-medium bowlers Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel took vital wickets and England needed an unlikely 29 off two overs. Fifteen runs were smashed in the 49th over as Graeme Swann and Bresnan hit sixes off Piyush Chawla. Chawla had his revenge bowling Bresnan off his last ball.
Now to the climax – 14 needed in the final over, bowled by Patel. Ajmal Shahzad hit the third ball for a six then ran a bye. Swann took two off the fifth ball. It came down to two runs needed for an English win but could manage only one and the match was tied.