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Six of the greatest upsets from the past six World Cups

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12th June, 2019

Everyone loves an underdog, whatever the sport may be.

Whether it be Leicester winning the EPL a couple of years back or Senegal shocking France at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, upsets capture the attention.

Cricket has seen its fair share of upsets over the years. Here are the six greatest Cricket World Cup upsets, in no particular order, from the last six editions of the ICC World Cup.

Ireland vs Pakistan, 2007 World Cup, Group D match at Sabina Park, Jamaica
The luck of the Irish on St Patrick’s Day. The date, March 2, 2007.

Pakistan was ranked no.4 in the world and were expected to defeat Ireland with ease. However, what happened next was something that was just unbelievable.

On a day of upsets where Bangladesh shocked Pakistan’s subcontinent neighbours, India, Pakistan went one further.

The minute one switched the channel to the Pakistan game after the Bangladesh shock, one would have been absolutely flabbergasted with what they would have seen.

Pakistan was embarrassingly bundled out for 132 and Ireland chased a revised total of 128 from 47 overs down with five overs to spare and three wickets in hand.

Ireland was through to the Super Eights courtesy of the draw against Zimbabwe and Pakistan being defeated by the West Indies in Pakistan’s previous game. All the dismissals in the Pakistan innings were caught.


At one stage, Pakistan were 71 for 6 and if it weren’t for the tail, they might have scored less than 100 runs. Boyd Rankin and Andre Botha picked up three and two wickets respectively with Botha picking 2/5.

Ireland did lose a few wickets in clusters but Niall O’Brien scored a half-century and Australian-born captain Trent Johnston hoiked the winning six over midwicket for six. The Irish section of the crowd erupted.

Ireland spinner George Dockrell appeals

Ireland spinner George Dockrell appeals during the World Cup

Bangladesh versus India, 2007 World Cup, Queens Park Oval, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
The first of two upsets on a day full of surprises, a relatively young Bangladeshi side defeated cricketing powerhouses, India on the back of some brilliant bowling and clever batting.

India’s campaign ended two games later as a result of this loss and the loss at the hands of subcontinent neighbours Sri Lanka. There were year-long reports of rifts between senior players and head coach Greg Chappell heading into this fixture and after India’s shock 1st round exit, coach Greg Chappell, resigned from his post.

India was bundled out for a disappointing 191 with only Sourav Ganguly scoring in excess of 50 and Yuvraj scoring 47. Mashrafe Mortaza picked up four wickets while the left-arm spinners, Abdur Razzak and senior Mohammed Rafique picked up three wickets apiece.

Future Bangladeshi stars, Shakib Al-Hasan, Tamim Iqbal andamp; Mushfiqur Rahim all scored in excess of 50 with 5 wickets in hand chasing down 191 with relative ease.

This result was arguably one of the most important results in the nation’s history as four players from that very squad have formed an integral core for the Bangladeshis over the last 10-12 years since that result.


Star all-rounder, Shakib Al-Hasan, the wicketkeeper, Mushfiqur Rahim, opener Tamim Iqbal, and current captain, Mashrafe Mortaza were all apart of this World Cup campaign and are the key players in the current team.

Bangladesh Cricket

Bangladesh are on the up. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Ireland versus England 2011 World Cup, M.Chinaswammy Stadium, Bangalore
Bangalore or Bengaluru as it is locally referred to, took centre stage for a big upset. The less fancied Ireland, for the second World Cup in a row, chased down 326 on the back of a blistering and memorable knock from all-rounder Kevin O’Brien.

Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell scored half-centuries for the Poms helping them reach 326.

One would have backed the Poms to defend 326 and with Ireland struggling 111 for 5, one would have backed the Poms to finish the Irish off.

However, the luck of the Irish and Kevin O’Brien had other plans. Backed up really well by Alex Cusack and John Mooney, Ireland chased down a mammoth 326 runs and pulled off one of the most famous World Cup and ODI victories of all time.

O’Brien and Cusack targeted James Anderson, Michael Yardy and Tim Bresnan. O’Brien went ballistic in his record-setting knock of 116. Both Cusack and O’Brien were run out and when O’Brien got out, he received a loud cheer from the crowd in acknowledgement of his amazing innings.

Mooney remained not out on 33 and hit a four through midwicket to give Ireland the historic victory.


West Indies versus Kenya, 1996 World Cup, Nehru Stadium, Pune
Arguably the biggest World Cup upset of all-time, Kenya, defeated the two-time champions, the West Indies by a resounding margin of 73 runs.

With rifts in the team, issues with the selectors, pay disputes and a serious decline, the West Indies were in all sorts of bother heading into the 1996 World Cup.

However, no one would have thought that Kenya, an associate nation, would have beaten them.

The West Indies still had the likes of Richie Richardson, Brian Lara, Courtney Walsh and Sir Curtly Ambrose at their disposal.

Chasing a low total of 167, the Windies never really were in the chase as Kenya pulled off a miraculous victory and did a lap of honour around the Nehru Stadium.


Batting first, Kenya scored 166 and there were 37 extras in the Kenyan innings. eight more than Kenya’s highest scorer in the match.

Kenya were 81 for 6 and on the back of Hitesh Modi and Thomas Odoyo, they crawled their way to 166. An average total that most people would have backed the West Indians to chase.

As mentioned before, the West Indies chase never got going. At 78 for 7, the West Indies has lost all their recognised batsman. Then they were bundled out for a terrible 93, despite Wicketkeeper, Tariq Iqbal’s shoddy glovework.

Maurice Odumbe and Rajib Ali starred with the ball picking up figures of 3/15 and 3/17 respectively. The West Indies quite understandably received serious flak from their home media, but they miraculously recovered after this game to reach the Semis where they collapsed like a pack of cards against the Australians.

Sri Lanka vs Kenya, 2003 World Cup, Gymkhana Club Ground, Nairobi, Kenya
One of the top ODI teams in the world at the time versus Kenya, Sri Lanka were clear favourites.

However, again, Kenya pulled off a World Cup upset. In fact, the 2003 World Cup was a surprising campaign as the Kenyans went to the semis, where they bowed out to eventual runners-up, India.

It was the first and so far the only time an associate nation reached the World Cup semi-final.

Kenya scored a decent 210 for 9 off their 50 overs. Kennedy Otieno shielded the other batters from Sri Lanka’s two main strike weapons, Chaminda Vaas with a Sri Lanka.


Otieno scored a solid 60 from 88 balls with 8 fours and 2 sixes before being dismissed with the score at 140/4.

Hitesh Modi and Maurice Odumbe helped Kenya reach over 200. At the close of the innings, Sri Lanka were favourites to chase down the total but the Kenyan bowlers, especially their legspinner, Collins Obuya, who bowled a magnificent spell, had other ideas.

Sri Lanka was steadily going when at 71/2 they lost Hashim untilakaratne and then the collapse began. Sri Lanka lost their last eight wickets for 86 runs, being bowled of for 157 with Collins Obuya picking up 5/24.

Sri Lankan legend and former captain, Sanath Jayasuriya labelled this game as the worst game of his life. Kenya and Sri Lanka both ended their tournaments at the semi-finals.

Bangladesh versus Pakistan, 1999 World Cup, County Ground, Northhampton
Bangladesh was playing probably the third best ODI team of the era. Pakistan had nearly every base covered in this World Cup – and of course this match.

A good leader and possibly the greatest left-arm bowler of all time in Wasim Akram, a world-class spinner in Saqlain Mushtaq, a classy opener in Saeed Anwar, the big-hitting Inzamam-ul-Haq and a rising star in the Rawalpindi express, Shoaib Akhtar.

Bangladesh was helped by captain Mohammed Akram cameo of 42 and 27 from Khaled Mahmud. Saqlain picked up a 5fer which restrict the Bangladeshis to 223/9. Pakistan failed to chase down Bangladesh’s total.

The Pakistanis lost wickets at fairly regular intervals and were behind in the chase at most stages. A 55-run stand was cut short by a run-out which there were of about three in the game.


Man of the match, Khaled Mahmud, picked up 3/31 and Pakistan were bundled out for 161 losing by a margin of 83 runs. Critics were sceptical of the result as there were allegations of match-fixing around the game. However, nothing has been proven to date.

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