Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The greatest ICC Cricket World Cup innings of all time

24 years ago at Karachi, Viv Richards put the Sri Lankan bowlers to the sword with an incredible innings of 181 from just 125 deliveries which powered the West Indies to a total of 360-4 and victory by 191 runs. Without doubt, this ranks as one of the greatest innings ever played in any ICC Cricket World Cup, but how does the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings computer see it? Here is a countdown of the top eleven CWC innings covering the nine tournaments so far:

11 – Adam Gilchrist (Aus) 149 (104) v SL at Bridgetown in 2007
Having had a disappointing competition, the Australian wicket-keeper experimented by inserting a squash ball into his batting glove for the final. The result was spectacular as he recorded the highest-ever individual score in an ICC Cricket World Cup final as he led Australia to a 53-run victory.

10 – David Houghton (Zim) 142 (137) v NZ at Hyderabad in 1987
Chasing 243 for victory, the Zimbabwean keeper fought a lone hand as his side slumped to 104-7. Iain Butchart then joined him in a competition-record partnership of 117 for the eighth wicket, but all was to no avail as the Kiwis sneaked home by just 3 runs.

9 – Allan Lamb (Eng) 102 (105) v NZ at The Oval in 1983
Facing an attack featuring three of the top five rated bowlers at the time – Richard Hadlee, Ewen Chatfield and Chris Cairns – Lamb smashed his way to a century to help England to 322-6. Martin Snedden suffered the most as his 12 overs cost him 105 runs and the home team ended up winning by 106 runs.

8 – Ramiz Raja (Pak) 119* (155) v NZ at Christchurch in 1992
The Kiwis had been the form team in the early stages of ICC Cricket World Cup 1992 but their batting failed against the Pakistani pace attack on a helpful pitch. At 9-2 chasing just 167 to win, Pakistan could have collapsed, but Ramiz anchored the chase perfectly and victory was achieved by seven wickets.

7 – Zaheer Abbas (Pak) 103* (121) v NZ at Nottingham in 1983
The Kiwi bowling attack in ICC Cricket World Cup 1983 was arguably the strongest it has ever been in the shorter format of the game. However here it was middle-order maestro Zaheer to the rescue after the Pakistani top three had all failed to progress beyond 33. His innings was crucial in the end, as the Kiwi chase only ended 11 runs short.

6 – Sourav Ganguly (Ind) 183 (158) v SL at Taunton in 1999
His partnership of 318 for the second wicket with Rahul Dravid is still the CWC record for any wicket and Ganguly certainly enjoyed the short boundaries at Taunton, clearing them seven times. Even Muttiah Muralitharan couldn’t stem the flow of runs as Sri Lanka subsided to a 157-run defeat

5 – Dennis Amiss (Eng) 137 (147) v Ind at Lord’s in 1975
Ironically this match is now primarily remembered for Sunil Gavaskar’s unbeaten 36 spanning 174 deliveries in India’s chase, but Amiss lit up the first half of the match. More than 35 years on, it remains the highest individual score for England in any ICC tournament.

4 – Keith Fletcher (Eng) 131 (147) v NZ at Nottingham in 1975
Both England’s openers had been dismissed with just 28 on the board, but after starting slowly, Fletcher blossomed to such an extent that 53 runs were added in the last five overs of the innings to lift the total to 266, before he was run out from the final delivery. It was too much for the Kiwis who were all out for just 180 in reply.

3 – Viv Richards (WI) 181 (125) v SL at Karachi in 1987
Coming in with Ravi Ratnayeke on a hat-trick, Richards’s innings set a new record for all ICC CWC matches and it propelled the West Indies to a total of 360-4 – a record at the time in all ODI cricket, helped by a more sedate century from Desmond Haynes. Mahanama and Kuruppu started the chase at 12 runs per over, but it all ended in a 191-run win for the West Indies.

2 – Viv Richards (WI) 138* (157) v Eng at Lord’s in 1979
What better setting for a memorable hundred than a final? This was arguably Viv’s finest hour as he rescued the reigning champions from 99-4 with a partnership of 139 with Collis King who made 86. He hit three 6s and eleven 4s to lift his side to 286-9. England’s opening partnership of 129 between Brearley and Boycott took 38 overs and Joel Garner ripped through the tail to seal victory.

1 – Kapil Dev (Ind) 175* (138) v Zim at Tunbridge Wells in 1983
A match which has entered cricketing folklore. With qualification for the semi-finals in some doubt, India slumped to 17 for five before Kapil began his assault, slamming sixteen 4s and six 6s from just 138 deliveries. Not content with that, he followed up with an economical spell to lead India to a narrow victory and subsequently inspired them to their only ICC CWC triumph.

Innings just missing this countdown include Andrew Symonds’s 143 not out against Pakistan in 2003, Clive Lloyd’s century in the 1975 final, Brian Lara’s 111 against South Africa in 1996 and Steve Waugh’s memorable unbeaten century against South Africa at Leeds in 1999.

With the tenth ICC Cricket World Cup just around the corner, it remains to be seen whether anyone will be able to dislodge Kapil from the top of the tree. One thing is for certain – if it happens then the cameras will be there, unlike in poor Kapil’s case in 1983.