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The 5 games which changed India’s trajectory in World Cups

India & Cricket World Cup: The top 5 game which changes India's World Cup fortune. Top 5 games from 1983 World Cup to till today.

IND vs ZIM, 1983 World Cup Group game_ Kapil Dev's sensational 175_ runs changed India's world cup fortune _ Walking wicket (Images_ ©ICC_Twitter)
Kapil's sensational 175* runs changed India's world cup fortune (Images: ©ICC/Twitter)

India is certainly among the most prominent teams when it comes to the game of cricket and they are arguably one of the most popular sides that play the sport. It is partially due to the availability of a wide fan base in the country and therefore any of the matches that they feature in automatically becomes bigger and larger than life.

Over the last few decades, India have steadily progressed as a competitive unit and they are one of the few sides that have won all the limited-over ICC Trophies (ICC World Cup, Champions Trophy, and the T20 World Cup).

But India’s start in both Tests & ODI format was not that easy and they lost more than they won initially. It all changed in 1983, when as underdogs, India won the World Cup and then went on to win once again in the 2011 edition, this time at home.

With the ICC World Cup 2023 fast approaching, we will look at some of the best matches featuring India in the past World Cup tournaments.

IND vs ZIM, 1983 World Cup Group game

India took on the Zimbabwe team in a sort of must-win clash at Tunbridge Wells. The Kapil Dev-led team had won their first two games of the league stages against defending champions West Indies and Zimbabwe, before losing two fixtures, one against Australia and West Indies each.

Skipper Kapil Dev does it for India with a sensational 175*

So, this was a sort of do-or-die game and India batting first had a horrible start to their innings as they lost five wickets for just 17 runs. In came, skipper Kapil Dev and he stood tall in this all- important game for India.

After the top-order debacle, Kapil took charge with the lower middle-order to reach his maiden and only ODI century in the process. His stunning display of batsmanship ensured that, from 17/5, India reached 266/8 in the allotted 60 overs. He ended up hitting an unbeaten 175 from only 138 deliveries and this innings included 6 maximums.

Indian bowlers then stepped-up in the second innings, bundling out Zimbabwe for 235 runs and Madan Lal was the pick of them taking 3/42.

IND vs WI, 1983 World Cup Final

West Indies were the hands-on favourites to win and retain the World Cup for the third successive time. Though India had defeated the Windies in their first group stage game, they had also suffered a defeat later on, and it was always going to be an uphill task for anyone to dethrone the mighty West Indies.

A complete team effort and extraordinary performances from the bowlers ensured the underdogs did the unthinkable. India succeeded in uprooting the mighty West Indies team from their throne, becoming the first Asian team to win the World Cup.

Srikanth and bowlers give India their first World Cup triumph

Coming to the match, India was asked to bat first on a typical English morning and the team was jolted by the early departure of Sunil Gavaskar. Kris Srikanth (top scorer with 38) and Mohinder Amarnath tried to build an innings of some substance, but the duo fell just when India had started to look set.

Frequent loss of wickets meant India could muster up only 183 on the board and it looked like a cakewalk for the West Indies batters. However, the never say die attitude of Kapil’s men was on full display as all the Indian bowlers played a key role in scripting India’s finest ever WC win.

Madan Lal and player of the match Mohinder Amarnath picked three wickets each to ensure an unprecedented West Indies collapse - bundling them out for just 140 runs.

IND vs AUS, 2011 World Cup Quarter-Final

If it was the West Indies in 1983, then Australia was the team ruling over cricket in the 2011 World Cup. And the one to dethrone both the giants, on both occasions, was India.

This was a Quarter-Final clash between the two rivals, and it took place at Ahmedabad. Australia had won three successive World Cups before this and knew a thing or two about handling the pressure in knockout games.

On the other hand, India had been earlier eliminated in the group stages in the 2007 edition of World Cup and had all the pressure in the world going into this clash. Australia opted to bat after winning the toss, and their skipper Ricky Ponting scored a scintillating century. But a disciplined bowling performance led by all-rounder Yuvraj Singh (2/44) restricted the Aussie score to 260.

Indian batters relied on building partnerships - Sachin Tendulkar (53), Yuvraj (57*) and Gautam Gambhir (50) scored half-centuries in this important knockout game. Finally, it was the unbeaten 75-run stand between Yuvraj and Suresh Raina (34*) for the 6th wicket which gave India the famous win over Australia. This also broke Australia’s World Cup streak and paved the way for India’s entry into the Semi-finals of the World Cup.

IND vs PAK, 2011 World Cup Semi-Final

After a resounding win in the Quarters, the focus had shifted to the highly anticipated India-Pakistan semi-final clash at Mohali. Like India, Pakistan had also faced an early round exit in the previous World Cup and were proving to be a formidable opposition in this edition.

India batted first in the match and had a great start courtesy its openers - Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar.

Sachin, though not at his usual sublime best, kept the run flowing for India by scoring a 115-ball 85. But the hosts lost wickets at regular intervals, thanks to a brilliant spell of fast bowling by Wahab Riaz who picked up a fifer. Suresh Raina played a crucial cameo of 36* at the end, taking India’s total to 260/9.

The target was not that much but like all the India-Pakistan encounters, the pressure was immense. And it was the Indian bowlers who trumped in that situation as each of the five - Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Harbhajan and Yuvraj Singh - used by Dhoni picked 2 wickets apiece to orchestrate a 29-run win for India. As a result, India entered their third World Cup final and their first at home.

IND vs SL, 2011 World Cup Final_ MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh took India over the line and won Cricket World Cup  _ Walking wicket (Images_ ©ICC_Twitter)
Dhoni, Yuvraj took India over the line in Cricket World Cup 2011 (Images: ©ICC/Twitter)
IND vs SL, 2011 World Cup Final

Sri Lanka was at their red-hot best coming into the tournament and had competed feistily throughout it. Their batters were in great form and Sangakkara opted to bat first in the World Cup Final. Though India had things under control for the better part of the Lankan innings, Mahela Jayawardene used all his experience to score a sensational unbeaten century (103*). Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh picked 2 wickets each as Sri Lanka finished at a healthy 274/6, a great total in a finale.

India’s start was poor as Malinga removed both of India’s star openers - Sehwag and Sachin - rather cheaply. Gautam Gambhir played the role of a sheet anchor and formed crucial partnerships - first with Virat Kohli and then with skipper MS Dhoni (91*). Gambhir’s stay ended on 97 but Dhoni along with the player of the tournament Yuvraj Singh (21*), took India home with an unbroken 55-run stand for the fifth wicket. India won the final with 10 balls to spare to finalise their second ODI World Cup triumph.


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