1. India vs Pakistan (Aamer Sohail vs Venkatesh Prasad) Also Read - Coronavirus in West Bengal: Kolkata Police Seeks to Use Eden Gardens as Quarantine Centre For Its Personnel
India was set to face Pakistan for the second time in World Cup history and a jam-packed Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore played hosts. Pakistan were already weakened with skipper and bowling spearhead, Wasim Akram withdrawing before the game. Aamer Sohail led the side and Mohammed Azharuddin elected to bat first after winning the toss and the Indian batters made merry. Navjot Sidhu made a well crafted 93 and Ajay Jadeja’s stunning assault on Waqar Younis in the tail end of the innings took India to a commanding 287 for 8. Also Read - The Crowd at Eden Gardens Helped India win 2001 Kolkata Test: Rahul Dravid
After being deducted an over owing to slow over rate, Sohail and Saeed Anwar toyed with the Indian bowlers in the early part of the innings; a flurry of boundaries flowed from the two left handers’ blades. Javagal Srinath got rid of Anwar but Sohail continued the Pakistan onslaught. The stadium was stunned in silence as the bitter rivals were walking away with the contest before some high voltage verbal drama unfolded. After slashing Venkatesh Prasad through extra cover for a boundary, Sohail went up to Prasad and pointed the bat to the off-side, suggesting the bowler to place a fielder in the region. Next ball, around the wicket and into the batsmen and trying to replicate the shot, Sohail was bowled all ends up and Prasad gave the batsman a generous F-world send off. The crowd went in raptures and Pakistan lost their way in the chase as local boys, Prasad and Anil Kumble were on target and set up a famous win that would be talked about through the generations. Also Read - Sourav Ganguly Recalls Historic 2001 India-Australia Eden Garden Triumph
While the Indian public took to the streets to celebrate the win, the Pakistani public called for their players’ heads. Sohail was chastised for his immature act that led to his dismissal while Wasim Akram’s effigy was burned and was also alleged incident of stone pelting at his Lahore home.
2. Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana: Leaving on a jet plane
To cash in on the field restrictions in the first 15 overs, Sri Lankan coach Dav Whatmore and skipper Arjuna Ranatunga toyed with the idea to send Jayasuriya, a then middle order batsman as an opener, months before the tournament began. The results were satisfactory and the Lankans stuck with the diminutive duo going into the tournament. The Jaya-Kalu slam-bam machine dished out boundaries and sixes at yawning ease. Opening bowlers were destroyed and changed the landscape of an opening duo forever. The tournament’s Man of the Series, Jayasuriya was particularly severe and some even joked/accused the southpaw of having steel blades embedded in his bat. The score consistently reached 100-120 after 15 overs. With a strong middle order to follow, the openers had the license to play with carefree abandon and butcher the white ball.
Jayasuriya was on the forefront of it all; Manoj Prabhakar, Phil DeFreitas or the hapless Kenyan bowlers were subjected to a savage fest never seen before. The strategy had its pitfalls too and other teams tried their own versions of replicating the formula. It worked but Jaya and Kalu were pioneers in their own right and a vital wheel in the Sri Lankan juggernaut. Also Read: ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Schedule: Complete Fixtures & Time Table of all Cricket World Cup 2015 Matches
3. India vs Sri Lanka semi-final: Calcutta shames cricket
After Jayasuriya and co. blew India away in a group fixture in the tournament, Azharuddin decided to chase and the home side got off to a dream start. Playing in front of the Eden Gardens cauldron with 100,000 + people behind their home side, Sri Lanka were reduced to 1 for 2 with Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana back in the pavilion. Aravinda de Silva then counterattacked, paying scant regard to the circumstances and the Lankans got to a solid 251 for 8.
India were on course with Sachin Tendulkar leading the charge. The required run rate was under check before the pitch started to crumble. Tendulkar was out stumped off Muralitharan and from 98 for 1, the Sri Lankan spinners reduced the side to 120 for 8. After the stratospheric highs of the quarter-final win, India’s World Cup campaign was on the brink of coming to a screeching halt.
A section in the gigantic arena started burning flames and rioting and like a bad virus, seeped into every corner of the ground. Volatile supporters started venting their fury with bottles, slippers and other paraphernalia thrown on the ground. The ground authorities tried their best calm things down but with no avail as more flames were lit and it got impossible for fielders to get anywhere near the boundary ropes. The match referee, Clive Lloyd walked on to the field, had a discussion with the umpires and the two captains and handed the match to the Lankans after a brief halt.
The Island Nation rejoiced and the Indian players stood on the ground with tears in their eyes. Vinod Kambli, who was at the crease, would be a part of a defining footage; breaking down uncontrollably as he learnt that no further play would take place.
For the game of cricket though, the incident was a huge blot, with the visuals travelling across the world and tarnished the reputation of the ‘City of Joy’. Extreme passion reared its ugly head and it came to the surface in the most ignominious fashion. It spoke volumes about an average Indian fan/
4. Kenya vs West Indies: the Calypso decline begins
The Nehru stadium in Pune held matches only sporadically and a scant crowd came to witness West Indies take on a lowly Kenya. After Courtney Walsh and co. rolled over the African Nation for 166, the chase was simply a merely a formality for the two-time World Cup winners. The chase started on a slippery wicket for the Windies but there was little doubt about the result. Then, panic struck when Brian Lara was caught behind by Kenya’s portly keeper, Tariq Iqbal. The ball miraculously stuck between Iqbal’s legs and West Indies never recovered as Rajab Ali and Maurice Odumbe skittled West Indies out for 93. The crowd could scarcely believe what was unravelling in front of their eyes as Kenya romped to a 73-run win. It was a disgrace for a team that had dominated the game for two decades preceding it. The Windies regrouped to win against South Africa in the quarter-final but committed professional suicide against Australia in the semis. Chasing 208, Richie Richardson’s team was on track at 165 for 2 after 37 overs before they inexplicably lost the remaining wickets in no time. The team disintegrated after the tournament and has been lost in a battle of power struggles, petty politics, contract disputes and mediocre players since.
5. Forfeited games
The World Cup had seen games where games had been washed out, a bizarre semi-final in the previous edition where Duckworth/Lewis regulations had reduced the equation to 22 needed from 1 from 13 deliveries. With the Civil war in the country rocking the country and a bomb blast taking place in Colombo, weeks before the tournament commencing, there was a lot of tension in the air. The bad blood between Australia in Sri Lanka Down Under before the tournament had taken a step further as Mark Taylor’s team decided against travelling to the Island Nation. This had riled up Sri Lanka even further after the barbs from Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan called for chucking on an Australian tour before the tournament but the Lankans did have the last laugh in the final. West Indies followed suit which gave Sri Lanka four points and quite bizarrely, took Sri Lanka to the quarter-final even before a ball was bowled.