Sunday, February 6, 2011

The World Cup Memories - 1999

The 7th edition of the World Cup moved to its old home in England. The format was interesting and confusing at the same time (with the concept of Super 6s being introduced). In terms of timings this was the most Indian viewer friendly tournament with the tournament being held during the summer holidays and all matches starting in the late afternoon. I was in Std 12 then , with IIT-JEE coaching classes taking up quite a bit of time then. But still managed to catch up with most of the happenings in the tournament.
This was a cup with quite a few memories. The initial league stage threw up quite a few surprises and no team seemed to be a clear favorite after its completion. India started badly by losing to South Africa and then getting stunned by Zimbabwe. The tournament's rules ensured that Henry Olonga's final over to India would come back to haunt them again. India regrouped with some great individual performances (the Dravid-Ganguly partnership against Sri Lanka, Tendulkar's 100 against Kenya) and then reached the Super 6s. The Indian campaign then got derailed in the Super 6 stage. India though maintained its 100% winning record against Pakistan, a match played in the backdrop of the Kargil war. I guess the patriotic fervor had never been higher in India than on that day when India beat Pakistan. Two countries at war playing a game of cricket. It was a time when cricket was irrelevant yet people took it for much more than just another game. 
Australia like India had a stuttering start to their campaign but unlike India they just went on to win every game and onwards to the Cup. The two games against South Africa provided the most abiding memories of that tournament. Steve Waugh's "You have just dropped the world cup" line to Herschelle Gibbs and the tied semi-final (In my opinion the best ODI ever played). The sight of the Aussies jumping around after Donald was run out and Klusener who could have been the hero just no where in the picture is the enduring memeory of this tournament. The tie ensured that regardless of any number of close matches they won, South Africa would always be remembered as the great chokers of the game. Zimbabwe gave the most heartening performance of the tournament with what was certainly their strongest lineup of all time. The tournament also set the trend for boring final matches and the Australian unbeaten march.

Next Stop - South Africa, 2003

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