Whether in Melbourne, Mumbai or Marylebone, the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup final is an occasion that very few can match in cricket. On Sunday the iconic Lord’s Cricket Ground will host its fifth World Cup final as hosts England face 2015 finalists New Zealand for the right to call themselves the best in the world.
Whichever team comes out on top, cricket’s most coveted trophy will be handed to a new winner as the 12th edition of the tournament reaches its climax.
We take a stroll down memory lane and look at World Cup finals gone by.
1975: Lloyd leads by example
Runs made with backs to the wall are gripping to watch and Clive Lloyd coined the original. The West Indies captain came to the crease with his side struggling on 50/3 against Dennis Lillee’s Australia. Under glassy skies and in front of a feverish Lord’s crowd, Lloyd struck a masterful counter-attacking century and Keith Boyce took four wickets to crown Windies the inaugural winners. It is still considered one of the greatest World Cup matches of all time, a classic that has stood the test of time. Sir Viv Richards made his mark too, but on the field, with crucial runouts.
Also read: Viv Richards golden arm makes WI World Champions
1979: Richards strikes again
Just as Lloyd bailed them out four years earlier, it was the turn of Viv Richards to extricate West Indies from a poor start and propel them to glory. His 138 from 157 balls was a brutal innings by modern standards and helped set a target of 286 – well beyond hosts England despite the stoical efforts of openers Geoffrey Boycott and Mike Brearley. But, even Richards was left a mere spectator when teammate Collis King took apart the England bowlers.
Also read: Viv Richards’ majestic 138* was only the second best knock in 1979 final
1983: India’s summer
One of the greatest underdog stories, not just in cricket, but across sport. India’s vaunted bowling attack wrested the World Cup from the grasp of West Indies as Kapil Dev masterminded a memorable triumph. Dev’s outfit only managed 183 first up and Windies looked destined for a third straight victory, but Mohinder Amarnath and Madan Lal exploited swinging and seaming conditions to get home by 43 runs. And who can forget the catch that dismissed Richards? Step forward (or backwards) did the Indian captain...
Also read: Kapil Dev’s incredible sets up India’s first title
1987: Advance Australia
An Australia side that Steve Waugh would later label ‘rank outsiders’ pulled off an unlikely triumph in India & Pakistan, the first time the World Cup was staged outside England. The Eden Gardens final against the English would be immortalised for Mike Gatting’s ill-judged reverse sweep when his team were well-placed and David Boon’s gutsy 75, the backbone of his country’s inaugural triumph.
Also read: Mike Gatting’s brain-fade and Australia’s first title
1992: Cornered Tigers roar back
Imran Khan asked his team to fight and they scrapped for every inch until the skipper himself dismissed Richard Illingworth to clinch perhaps the World Cup’s most remarkable victory. Seemingly down and out after one win in their first five, Pakistan surged to five successive wins – inspired by Imran, whose 72 in the final earned his nation a maiden triumph in Melbourne. Wasim Akram then stepped up with the ball to hand Pakistan a famous win.
Also read: Wasim Akram’s spell reverses Pakistan’s fortunes
1996: De Silva’s service
In what is still the finest all-round performance in a World Cup final, Aravinda de Silva took two catches and snaffled three wickets to restrict Mark Taylor’s Australia to 241 in Lahore. Alongside Asanka Gurusinha’s measured half-century, de Silva struck a masterful 107 to get Sri Lanka over the line by seven wickets, etching a fifth name onto the World Cup trophy.
1999: Warne blows Pakistan away
In the World Cup win that sparked an era of one-day dominance, Shane Warne spun Australia to a comprehensive defeat of Pakistan at Lord’s. The 1992 winners were bowled out for 132 as Glenn McGrath, Tom Moody and Warne strangled Wasim Akram’s men. Adam Gilchrist’s belligerence saw them over the line with eight wickets in hand. It is arguably the most lop-sided final till date and Australia became the global powerhouse to be reckoned with for years to come.
2003: Australia go back-to-back
Australia secure successive World Cup wins with a contrasting but equally emphatic victory over India at the Wanderers. They smote 359 from their 50 overs – then their second highest-ever score in the format – with Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn sharing a partnership of 234 runs, another national record. India got nowhere near, dismissed for 234.
Also read: When Ricky Ponting broke a billion hearts in 2003
2007: Gilchrist goes big
A rain-reduced repeat of the 1996 showpiece was dominated by Gilchrist, whose 149 remains the highest-ever score in a World Cup final. Australia’s threepeat was never in doubt after Kumar Sangakkara and Sanath Jayasuriya were dismissed chasing 281, extending the winning streak of their one-day dynasty to 29 games.
2011: Dhoni does it for India
India’s World Cup win on home soil remains one of the most significant moments in the game’s recent history, sparking scenes of jubilation not seen since. Mahela Jayawardene scored the sixth hundred in a World Cup final but ended on the losing side – largely due to Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s perfectly-timed 91 in the chase and 97 from Gautam Gambhir. It was a trophy dedicated to Sachin Tendulkar by his teammates, as the legendary batsman played his last World Cup in front of his home crowd. It was also the first time ever that the home side had won the tournament.
Also read: When Dhoni’s masterclass in final ended India’s 28-year wait
2015: Australia romp home
Australia claimed a fourth win in five tournaments in front of a near-six figure crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It was a final triumph to stand alongside any of their previous efforts as a relentless bowling performance saw them dismiss the Kiwis for 183. While India defended that exact same score in 1983 for their first triumph, New Zealand could not end their wait for a World Cup title with Steve Smith and Michael Clarke making short-work of the run-chase.
For the second consecutive edition, the tournament was won by the hosts. Can England complete a hat-trick on Sunday at Lord’s?
(With ICC inputs)