England’s victory against New Zealand on Sunday saw arguably the most dramatic finish to an ICC World Cup final in the history of the game. It was the perfect end to a tournament that thrilled audiences right through the six weeks that it ran.
There were plenty of moments in this World Cup that left fans in awe. Cricketing brilliance, sportsmanship, heartbreak, face-offs, edge-of-the-seat thrillers, this edition of the marquee 50-over event had it all.
Here’s a look at 16 such moments from this World Cup that went viral on social media:
It was Ben Stokes’ tournament from start to finish, wasn’t it? Before picking up the player of the match award in the final, the English all-rounder pulled-off one of the greatest catches ever during the tournament opener against South Africa.
Salute to celebrate
Sheldon Cottrell may not have been the most well-known cricketer at the start of this World Cup, but the West Indies pacer made sure everyone knew his name by the time the tournament was done. And it wasn’t just his skills with the ball that had people talking, his unique ‘salute’ celebration after taking a wicket was fun to see each time.
Virat Kohli earned the respect of one and all with his act of sportsmanship during the match against Australia. The skipper took out a moment in the heat of the battle to ask Indian fans to not boo Steve Smith. It was a classy thing to do and earned praise from all quarters.
The look on the face of this Pakistani fan as his team dropped a simple catch against Australia became an instant source for memes. It was disappointing to see the man’s heartbreak but fans couldn’t resist using his image for innumerable jokes. This will surely stand the test of time.
This was, perhaps, the most viral moment on social media in this World Cup. Play was just about to resume after a rain delay during India’s match against Pakistan when Sarfaraz Ahmed let out an almighty yawn. The image of Pakistan’s skipper yawning away to glory, even as his team was under pressure in a match against their arch-rivals, set social media on fire.
Soon after Ahmed’s yawn and his team’s subsequent defeat, a Pakistani fan went on a hilarious rant outside the stadium. Although he turned out to be a professional comedian, social media was left amazed by his tragically comic “pizza-burger” tirade.
Carlos Brathwaite scored a thrilling century to bring West Indies back from a hopeless situation to the cusp of victory against New Zealand. His team needed six runs to win off seven balls with one wicket in hand when he attempted a six and got caught inches inside the boundary. The image of Brathwaite sitting on his knees in disbelief and being consoled by the Kiwi players will always be remembered.
Yorker for the ages
Stokes was single-handedly taking England closer to victory against Australia at Lord’s in the group stage when Mitchell Starc bowled an inch-perfect yorker to rattle the left-hander’s stumps. It was a game-changing moment and fans couldn’t get enough of Stokes kicking his bat in anger after being dismissed.
Rihanna was at her animated best during West Indies’ match against Sri Lanka. The Barbadian singer cheered her team on from the stands and even had an emotional reunion with Windies coach Roddy Estwick, who was her teacher at school.
Fan No 1
Team India had a truly special fan in Charulata Patel. The 87-year-old’s passion and fervour in the stands was shown on the big screen and prompted captain Kohli and his deputy Rohit Sharma to go seek her blessings after the match. She was also, of course, an instant hit on social media.
‘Bits and pieces’
Ravindra Jadeja’s run-in with Sanjay Manrekar will be hard to forget. The all-rounder actually deleted his first tweet that had a small typo in it and reposted it with the correction. He was that angry with the former cricketer and now commentator’s “bits and pieces” assessment of him. Credit to Manjrekar, though, for acknowledging Jadeja’s brilliant performance during India’s semi-final defeat to New Zealand.
Dhoni’s final stretch
It was a heartbreaking moment for Indian fans as Mahendra Singh Dhoni got run-out during the semi-final against the Kiwis. The image of his bat being inches short of the crease was widely circulated on social media. It was a bitter pill to swallow also because of the fact that this, in all likelihood, Dhoni’s last World Cup match.
He gave it his all in the tournament and scored a record five centuries. Which is why it was all the more heartbreaking to see this image of Rohit Sharma as India went down in the semi-final. Fans on social media agreed in unison that the vice-captain deserved a better ending to the World Cup.
He has a tweet for every occasion. Period. Jofra Archer’s Twitter profile was arguably the coolest takeaway from this World Cup. Fans simply couldn’t get enough of the English pacer’s old tweets and dug them out during every match. So much so that the 24-year-old’s tweets from the past were strung together to narrate entire matches during this World Cup. Genius!
Most costly overthrows
England needed 9 off 3 in the final when the ball went for four overthrows after hitting Stokes’ bat as he sprinted back for a second run. The hosts were awarded six runs off that delivery and the rest is history. That moment sparked a huge debate on social media and the image of Stokes apologising to the New Zealand players will always be synonymous with this match.
Spirit of cricket
New Zealand lost this World Cup final by the slimmest of margins, with Martin Guptill getting run-out off the last ball of the Super Over. The image of him in tears and getting a helping hand from English all-rounder Chris Woakes was truly heartwarming.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the moment at which the Pakistani fan, mentioned under the subhead ‘Instant meme’, reacted. It was after a dropped catch, not a batting collapse.