Better Luck Next Time

The defending champions from the 1983 World Cup were on a crusade to continue their winning streak but were met with the force of Australians. When the two rising stars clashed, one had to admit defeat. That day it was India.

A match with many twists and turns | Source: The Scroll

The 1987 World Cup initiated a new alignment in the world of cricket. No longer was hosting this much-awaited tournament the prerogative of the English. From this edition onward, the World Cup was to be hosted by different countries, and one of the first to do so was India. Together with its neighbours, India managed to convince the International Cricket Council (ICC), and the tournament finally made its way out of England. The new tradition dictated that members would hold the tournament rotationally. India and Pakistan got to run the trial. The wheels of this complex bargain and shifting alliances were set in motion just after India’s first victory at the 1983 World Cup. India won the tournament back then and won the political chess at ICC. However, India was not fortunate enough when it came to this edition of the tournament.

The defending champions entered the arena with lofty dreams of their first match against Australia. This was a new beginning for the first-time winners who wished to turn their victory into a tradition. At the Chepauk Stadium, thousands waited for their heroes to repeat their wondrous feat. Australia went for batting first and stacked up a score of 270 runs in 50 overs. The openers, Marsh and Boon, did a splendid job, setting an ideal tone for the batsmen to follow. Geoff Marsh with his 110 runs made the intentions of the kangaroos clear, they were here to win. For the next couple of wickets, Indian bowlers fared well, and it looked as if the comeback was going to be easy. At the end of 50 overs, Australia managed to put up a challenging enough score for India.

India was also up for the challenge. The chase began with a fine performance from openers Sunil Gavaskar and Kris Srikkanth. Srikkanth’s infamous square-cuts got him 70 runs. Next on the pitch was Najvot Sidhu, who crossed the 70-run mark with his 73. Problems started brewing up when the middle order completely lost its edge. Star players like Mohammad Azharuddin and captain Kapil Dev went back to the pavilion well before they could make a dent in Australia's lead. By the time three players got run out, it became clear that the kangaroos had managed to secure the reins and would not let go in any case. In 49.5 overs, India’s first match at the 1987 World Cup was over.

Australia defeated the defending champions, making it clear that cricket is a game of uncertainties and nothing is promised. This only becomes clearer when India manages to take its revenge against Australia but loses to England in the semifinals. Another twist in the tale comes when Australia beats England and wins the tournament for the first time ever. India might not have won the match, but it was a momentous marker that the match took place in the subcontinent. This was a sign of times to come when India and its neighbours came to dominate cricket and make it more than a white gentleman’s game.


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