With the 2019 edition of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup set to begin on May 30, we look back at the most memorable moments from the tournament’s four-decade-long history. You can read the entire series here.
Moment No 6
The 1996 World Cup was one that produced a fair few surprises, none bigger than the eventual champions.
With the tournament being hosted in the sub-continent, after India and Pakistan, their less fancied South Asian counterparts Sri Lanka led by Arjuna Ranatunga wrote their name into the history books that year by clinching the tournament for the first time.
But there was another massive result that sent shock waves around the cricketing world earlier in the tournament.
Two-time champions West Indies, among the favourites, crashed out in the semi-finals against Australia but before that Richie Richardson’s side had already been taught a harsh lesson by one of the most unexpected opponents — Kenya during their group stage encounter.
Kenya, making their first-ever World Cup appearance, were thrust into the spotlight and stood no chance of making the quarterfinals in a group that pitted them against the likes of Australia, India, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe. After all here was a team of amateurs facing a storied World Cup side.
But they managed to defy the odds and pull off the biggest upset of the tournament.
The Windies boasted of a star-studded squad that contained likes of Richardson, Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Jimmy Adams to name a few.
Put in to bat, Kenya were tottering at 81 for 6 in no time and the result looked a foregone conclusion. A seventh wicket partnership of 44 runs between 17-year-old Thomas Odoyo and Hitesh Modi rejuvenated the Kenyan innings and helped the underdogs take their total beyond the 150-run mark with 37 extras being the highest contributor to there total of 166. Indiscipline did not help West Indies bowlers.
However, no one would have predicted what was going to happen in the second half of the match.
A gargantuan task
In reply, West Indies lost two early wickets with 22 runs added to the total. But there was Lara on their side and there would have been hardly any reason to panic for the West Indies supporters.
The first ball he faced, was dispatched to the boundary effortlessly through the covers. Despite the low target, his aggressive approach proved costly: a wild swish off Rajab Ali saw him edge one straight to the keeper. Keith Arthurton’s immediate run-out for a duck didn’t help the cause - making it 35/4 - but the target was still within sights.
Making most of the turning track in Pune, it was then time for the Maurice Odumbe show. The off-spinner ripped apart the middle-order and there was no looking back for his side as Windies slumped to 78-7.
Tailenders Walsh, Ambrose, Cameron Cuffy and Ian Bishop, were left with a monumental task of scoring the remaining runs and in the end, it was too much to ask for.
Kenya had pulled off a victory for the ages, bundling out the West Indies for 93 runs - none of their batsmen managing to breach the 20-run mark.
This was the very first instance where West Indies were beaten by an ICC Associate nation in an official ODI game and a lap of honour was soon followed. The crowd was enthralled by the events that unfolded before their eyes.
“It’s like winning the World Cup. It’s a dream come true. The West Indies are our idols, and to beat an idol is a great thing,” Odumbe said once the celebrations toned down.
The then two-time winners had sunk to a new low and the team was ripped to shreds back home. Lara, one of the most trusted batsmen, came under fire for his lack of discretion while Richardson soon revealed that he would hang up his boots.
“I’ve never felt this bad in all my life. If things are not going well, somebody should be blamed and the people at the top are usually the ones,” Richardson had said. “I’m the captain, but the players are also responsible, the whole set-up is responsible... we’re in a very, very deep hole and we’re almost at the bottom.”
Although the Kenyans couldn’t repeat the same miracle against eventual winners Sri Lanka in their final group fixture, the win against the mighty Windies meant that they bowed out with their heads held high.
As for the West Indies, they recovered briefly from the defeat thanks to an inspired century from Lara in the quarterfinal against South Africa but stumbled against Australia in the semifinal when victory seemed within reach.
All said and done, ‘96 was a tournament to forget for the once legendary side just for that embarrassing defeat against Kenya.
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