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When the underdogs had their day: The greatest men’s World Cup upsets

When The Underdogs Had Their Day: The Greatest Men's Cricket World Cup Upsets
by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

We take a look back at some of the greatest upsets in the history of the men’s Cricket World Cup.

Zimbabwe beat Australia by 13 runs, 1983

In their first-ever one-day international, Zimbabwe took on Lillee, Thomson and co. and somehow came out winners. Captain Duncan Fletcher was superb with both bat and ball: his 84-ball 69 rescued Zimbabwe from 94-5, while he took four wickets in the Australian chase.

India beat West Indies by 43 runs, 1983

Inspired by Zimbabwe’s historic win, India – who had won just one match across the first two World Cups – went on a fairytale run. While they managed to upset West Indies in the group stage, the defending champions were expected to cruise to a third global title in a row in the tournament final. At 50-1, chasing 184, West Indies were coasting, but India’s bowlers fought back to affect a collapse and taste glory at Lord’s.

Zimbabwe beat England by 9 runs, 1992

Nine years on from their day out against Australia, Zimbabwe were still waiting for their second World Cup win when they faced England in their eighth and final match of the 1992 tournament. Routed for just 134, the prospect of victory looked a tough ask against a side that would finish runners-up, but Eddo Brandes had other ideas, taking 4-21 as England were bowled out for 125.

Kenya beat West Indies by 73 runs, 1996

After being bowled out for 166, the Kenyan players spent the interval contemplating whether a quick West Indies chase would offer them the chance to sneak in some sightseeing in Pune. Instead the two-time winners collapsed in spectacular fashion, bowled out for just 93. “It is like having won the World Cup,” said Maurice Odumbe, the off-spinner who returned figures of 3-15.

Bangladesh beat Pakistan by 62 runs, 1999

Playing in their first World Cup, Bangladesh were still a year away from gaining Test status when they took on a Pakistan side yet to be beaten in the tournament. Akram Khan top-scored with 42 against a usually world-beating attack, and Pakistan faltered from the get-go in their chase of 224, with three run-outs helping the underdogs to a 62-run win at Northampton.

Kenya beat Sri Lanka by 53 runs, 2003

“A World Cup bloated by too many one-sided games needed this like a desert explorer needs a cold beer,” wrote Wisden after Kenya inflicted a shock defeat that set them on the path to a semi-final finish. Chasing 211 at Nairobi, Sri Lanka’s downfall was led by Collins Obuya, the leg-spinner who took 5-24.

Bangladesh beat South Africa by 67 runs, 2007

While Bangladesh had stunned India earlier in the tournament, this time they were up against the side ranked No.1 in the world. With that in mind, this victory ranks as an even greater upset. With the bat Mohammad Ashraful’s 83-ball 87 was the biggest contribution, before an attack dominated by left-armers secured a comfortable victory.

Ireland beat Pakistan by three wickets, 2007

Ireland’s first major statement as a cricketing force came with a shock in the Caribbean. On a greenish wicket, Pakistan were dismissed for just 132 before Niall O’Brien played the key Irish hand on St Patrick’s Day with a knock of 72.

Ireland beat England by three wickets, 2011

Four years on, another Irish upset looked unlikely with the then-Associate side 111-5 in a chase of 328. Kevin O’Brien then turned the tide in extraordinary fashion, hitting the fastest World Cup century of all time to light up Bangalore. While he fell with 11 still required, John Mooney and Trent Johnston made sure to finish the job.


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