India’s World Cup heroes: Bowlers
The upcoming ICC World Cup 2011 will bring together the most lethal bowlers in contemporary cricket. India, too, have some deadly artillery in store capable of destroying the most formidable batting line-ups. And if any more impetus is needed to go full throttle, here are some of the inspiring feats of Indian bowlers at the World Cup over the years.
India v Australia, Chelmsford, June 20, 1983
Madan Lal: 8.2-3-20-4, Roger Binny: 8-2-29-4
Australia needed to beat India in their last league game in order to harbour any hopes of making it through to the semi-final stage. India batted well to post a competitive total of 247. Yet, given that it was a 60-over affair, the Australians might have fancied their chances of chasing down the target. Instead, Madan Lal and Roger Binny destroyed the Australian bowling attack with some accurate swing bowling. No Australian scored more than 36 and India marched into the semi-final stage with a convincing 118-run win.
India v West Indies, Lord’s, June 25, 1983
Madan Lal: 12-2-31-3, Mohinder Amarnath: 7-0-12-3
The 1983 World Cup final. India, batting first, had been bowled out for a paltry 183. West Indies’ fans, in anticipation of their side’s three consecutive World Cup wins, had already started celebrating in the stands. But with the Caribbean score at 50/1, Madan Lal struck thrice, dismissing Desmond Haynes, Viv Richards and Larry Gomes, to leave the West Indies in all kinds of trouble at 66/4. Later, Mohinder Amarnath broke a spirited 43-run partnership between Jeff Dujon and Malcolm Marshall, claiming both their wickets, and then trapped last man Michael Holding lbw to round off a famous India win.
India v New Zealand, Nagpur, October 31, 1987
Chetan Sharma: 10-2-51-3
Sharma’s figures alone do not give the complete picture. Also, considering the context of the match it was, perhaps, not an all important contribution. New Zealand had been eliminated from the competition, while India had clinched a semi-final berth. But when Sharma knocked over Ken Rutherford, Ian Smith and Ewen Chatfield, with the Kiwi score going from 182/5 to 182/8 in the blink of an eye, off three consecutive deliveries, the World Cup had its first ever hat-trick by a bowler. To this day, Sharma’s feat remains the only by an Indian bowler at a World Cup.
India v Pakistan, Bengaluru, March 9, 1996
Venkatesh Prasad: 10-0-45-3
Pakistan, chasing a commanding Indian total of 287, had raced away to a score of 84/0 in 10 overs thanks to a fiery opening stand between Saeed Anwar and Aamer Sohail. Even when Anwar fell, Sohail continued belligerently. Then, having crashed Venkatesh Prasad through the off side in the 15th over, Sohail gesticulated to the lanky Indian bowler, warning him that anything within his reach would suffer a similar fate. In reply, Prasad sent Sohail’s off stump cartwheeling the very next delivery while also giving the Pakistani captain a not-so-polite sendoff. That high adrenaline act was followed up with the wickets of Ijaz Ahmed and Inzamam-ul-Haq, setting India on the road to a famous win.
India v Pakistan, Old Trafford, June 8, 1999
Venkatesh Prasad: 9.3-2-27-5
Different venue but same opponent, similar pressure situation and same bowling hero. Pakistan were in very good form in the lead up to this match, with their captain Wasim Akram even suggesting that they would use the super-six game against India as a “practice match”. And when India were restricted to a modest 227/6 in 50 overs, Pakistan looked favourites to beat India for the first time in a World Cup fixture. But Prasad swung into action and destroyed the Pakistani batting line-up. His five wickets - Saeed Anwar, Saleem Malik Inzamam-ul-Haq, Moin Khan and Wasim Akram – gave India a 47-run win and left Akram eating his words.
India v England, Durban, February 26, 2003
Ashish Nehra: 10-2-23-6
England, chasing an Indian score of 250 under lights, were facing an uphill task with the score at 28/2 in 12 overs. Yet, with Michael Vaughan and Nasser Hussain still at the crease and Alec Stewart, Paul Collingwood and the big-hitting Andrew Flintoff still to follow, a turnaround was a distinct possibility. Ashish Nehra was then brought into the attack by Sourav Ganguly. His bowling, a vicious mix of swing and seam movement under the Durban lights, spelled disaster for England. His 10-over spell, bowled on the trot, fetched him six crucial wickets that set up a handsome 82-run win for India. And even though it was a performance that left Nehra severely dehydrated, it was the English that walked away depleted that night.
Akshay Manwani is part of the editorial team at bcci.tv