The 10 greatest cricket world cup matches….

ESPNcricnfo.com has been running a series of 10 best world cup matches. Here they go:

10. ‘You’ve just dropped the World Cup’: SA vs Australia, 1999, Headingley

9. Walsh’s warning: WI vs Pak, 1987, Lahore

8. Fireworks in Bangalore: India vs Pak, 1996, Bangalore (QF)

7. KO’d by KOB : England vs Ireland, 2011, Bangalore

6. Houdini in Mohali: WI vs Australia, 1996, Mohali (SF)

5. The slaying of a dragon: India vs WI 1983, Lords, London (Final)

4. A cornered giant: NZ vs Pakistan, 1992, Auckland (SF)

3. Heart-stopping, heartbreaking: NZ vs SA, 2015, Auckland (SF)

2. The finest day of entertainment:  WI vs Australia,1975, Lords, London (Final)

The best has to be the one between SA and Australia in 1999 World Cup Semi-final played at Birmigham. Rob Smyth who reflects on the game rightly calls it as unimprovable game and writes such an amazing dramatic thrilling piece:

White-ball cricket is fast food; red-ball cricket is fine dining. This immutable cliché is hard to dispute, yet there is one almighty exception which proves ODIs can also be haute cricket. The 1999 World Cup semi-final between Australia and South Africa was Ferran Adria’s take on the Big Mac. It was a Test match in all but name, with the same subtlety, tempo variations and depth. It wasn’t just stranger than fiction; it was more complex, more profound – and it had a twist so savage that even Hitchcock might have deemed it too callous.

Two decades later, it’s still hard to comprehend that a limited-overs match – any match – could produce such intensity. Towards the end, even Shane Warne, who lived for such moments, thought that he had never known such tension on a cricket field.

Have never gotten over this match. So many possibilities were there:

In a parallel universe, the fall guy might have been Reiffel, for dropping those catches, or Lehmann, for missing the run-out chance; or even Warne, for going for 15 in his last over. “The whole game could have hinged on that Klusener catch,” said Reiffel before the final. “I went through a lot on Thursday.”

Everyone was a hero, everyone was a villain. Every little moment mattered, from Kirsten just missing a run-out early in Waugh’s innings to Bevan, ever the anonymous match-winner, brilliantly saving a fourth run when Rhodes late cut Mark Waugh in the 36th over. There was also at least one uncalled no-ball during South Africa’s innings.

“It was THE game,” said Woolmer. “It could have gone either way. History could have gone either way. Reminds me of a great film called Sliding Doors.”

That last sliding door is all anybody really remembers.

Phew. What a match and what an article. As exciting as the match.

Some trivia from the 10 matches:

  • There are 4 Semi-finals and 2 finals.
  • Three stadiums feature twice: Bangalore, Auckland and Lords.
  • Australia features 4 times in the 10 matches. Thrice as the victor and one loss to WI in 1975 WC Final. All the victories were snatching victories from the jaws of defeat. Two of these Warne played a crucial role both in Semi Finals.
  • WI also features 4 times. Three losses and one victory.
  • SA in three of those matches and all losses. Just sums their misery.
  • India, NZ, Pak in two matches each. India wins both. Pak and NZ win one and lose one.
  • 4 of these matches happened in England world cups (will there be addition to the list this time?).
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