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Watch: ‘No one but themselves to blame’ – West Indies collapse spectacularly to lose 1996 World Cup semi-final

World Cup 1996 semi-final – Australia v West Indies
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Watch: Australia clinched a five-run win as the West Indies collapsed in spectacular fashion in the 1996 World Cup semi-final at Mohali.

Sri Lanka had already beaten India in the first semi-final of the 1996 World Cup, at the Eden Gardens. Australia and the West Indies – the two teams that had refused to tour Sri Lanka on security grounds – locked horns in the other semi-final, at Mohali.

Australia were left in disarray against Curtly Ambrose (2-26) and Ian Bishop (2-35) after Mark Taylor won the toss and elected to bat. They were reduced to 15-4 inside ten overs, and Courtney Walsh ensured there was no release of pressure.

Australia could have been 27-5 when Stuart Law flicked a ball straight to mid-wicket, but Bishop had overstepped. Law, then on eight, eventually made 72 and added 138 with Michael Bevan (69 in 110) to keep Australia in the game. Ian Healy’s 28-ball 31 eventually took them to 207-8.

The West Indies stuck to their opening pair of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Courtney Browne, who had added 42 in the quarter-final to set the platform for Brian Lara. This time they added 25 before Shane Warne caught Browne brilliantly of his own bowling.

Lara came in and make a dazzling 45-ball 45. It took a special delivery from Steve Waugh to beat his bat and hit the stumps. But Chanderpaul continued with captain Richie Richardson for company. With eight men standing, the West Indies needed 43 in 53 balls. Even a tie would have put the West Indies in the final, for they had beaten Australia in the league match.

A West Indies defeat seemed unthinkable, not even after Chanderpaul tried to clear mid-on but failed to get enough elevation, and Damien Fleming held the catch.

The West Indies had altered their batting order in the quarter-final. They had promoted Roger Harper to five, holding back specialists like Keith Arthurton and Jimmy Adams. On that occasion they were setting a target. Here, with the match under control, they inexplicably sent Harper out at five yet again. He swiped at a few balls, mostly missed, tried to shuffle across against McGrath, and was out leg-before.

The West Indies needed 35 in 39 balls, but they bizarrely stuck to their strategy of holding back the specialist batters. Ottis Gibson came out. Warne bowled the next over. Gibson tried to cut the first ball, edged, and was caught behind.

Adams emerged at No.7 and played out the next five balls. Only three runs came off McGrath’s over. Adams’s ability to defend spin had earned him a reputation, but with 25 to make in 20 balls, he attempted an ugly sweep against Warne, found himself at the wrong position, and was out leg-before.

McGrath had bowled out. At the other end, Arthurton tried to hit Fleming cross-batted but could only edge it to Healy, but Richardson found the boundary off the last ball. Warne took out Bishop with his flipper, but Richardson retained strike, and the West Indies needed to score 10 off Fleming’s last over.

Fleming pitched the first ball up, and Richardson demonstrated why they used to hail him as Viv Richards’s heir. He played an impossible shot – a pull off a pitched-up ball middled to perfection, straight to the boundary. Six off five.

Fleming took the pace off. Richardson swiped and edged. Exactly why they ran for the single remains unknown, but they did, and Ambrose’s six-foot-seven frame and his bat could not beat Healy’s underarm throw.

Not only were the West Indies nine down now, but Walsh – whose 321 runs in 205 ODIs would do justice to his most supremely unorthodox, often hilarious, batting technique – was on strike. For some reason, he was without a helmet.

With Richardson at the other end, the logical thing would have been to get him back on strike. Unfortunately, that would not have been the Walsh thing to do. He went for an almighty slog, missed the off-cutter completely, was clean bowled, and that was that.

“The Aussies have sneaked in and won a great game of cricket,” uttered Tony Greig on air. “They have got no one but themselves to blame,” said Michael Holding while criticising the West Indies’ “bad tactics”.

Watch West Indies collapse against Australia in the 1996 World Cup semi-final:

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