Triumphs and heartbreaks for India in World Cup semis

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07 Jul 2019 | 12:05 PM
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Pramod Ananth

Triumphs and heartbreaks for India in World Cup semis

A look back at how India fared in World Cup semi-finals over the years.

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India vs England, 1983 World Cup, Manchester: Not many expected India to win even a single match in the 1983 World Cup, let alone making it to the semi-final. They were up against a formidable England side in the final four. England, who decided to bat first, got off to a good start with openers Graeme Fowler and Chris Tavare putting on 69 for the first wicket at more than four an over.

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However, the introduction of Mohinder Amarnath and Kirti Azad choked the middle-order, despite the presence of great stroke-makers like David Gower, Allan Lamb, Mike Gatting and Ian Botham. England were restricted to just 213 from their 60 overs. India had no trouble chasing it down, and they did so with 32 balls to spare thanks to fifties from Yashpal Sharma and Sandeep Patil. For his all-round performance (2 for 27 and 46), Amarnath was adjudged the player of the match. 

India vs England, 1987 World Cup, Mumbai: For the second time in a row, India and England came toe-to-toe in the semi-final of a World Cup. However, this time India were not just the defending champions but also favourites to knock England over again, considering that the match was played at Wankhede. However, the hosts suffered a big blow even before the match as star batsman Dilip Vengsarkar was ruled out due to a stomach infection and was replaced by Chandrakant Pandit. 

The match turned out to be ‘The Graham Gooch Show’. The England opener looked at utmost ease against the pacers and the spinners. In order to counter Maninder Singh, he practiced a lot of sweeps and reverse sweeps against left-arm finger spinners at the nets, and carried the fruits of that practice out to the middle. Gooch’s 115, and his 117-run stand for the second wicket with Mike Gatting (56) turned out to be pivotal as England went on to put up 254 for 6.

 In reply, six of India’s top seven got off to starts, with Mohammad Azharuddin top-scoring with 64, but none took the onus of taking India home. Off-spinner Eddie Hemmings’ 4-for was good enough to restrict India to 219, and England went on to win by 35 runs. 

India vs Sri Lanka, 1996 World Cup, Kolkata: In one of the most controversial finishes in an ODI, the semi-final of the 1996 edition between two Asian teams – India and Sri Lanka – was brought to an abrupt end due to crowd trouble. Sri Lanka had turned ODI batting on its head with openers Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana going all guns blazing in the first 15 overs throughout the tournament. 

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However, Javagal Srinath had both the openers caught at third man with just a single between them. Still, Sri Lanka had a formidable middle-. Aravinda de Silva especially was in the form of his life, scoring a 47-ball 46 in this match. Roshan Mahanama (58), Arjuna Ranatunga (35), Hashan Tillakaratne (32) and a late onslaught from Chaminda Vaas (26) took Sri Lanka to 251 for 8, which was a good score considering that they had lost their openers cheaply. For India, it was Sachin Tendulkar who was in rich form, but once he was stumped for 65, India collapsed and from 98 for 2, were reduced to 120 for 8 – at which point the disappointed home fans began throwing bottles and other missiles onto the ground, putting the Lankan fielders at risk. 

When some sections of the stands were set on fire, match referee Clive Lloyd had no option but to hand the match to Sri Lanka. It was a disgraceful end to a highly anticipated match, and the sight of Vinod Kambli walking off the ground, eyes streaming tears of frustration and disappointment, will forever signpost one of the sorriest episodes in Indian cricket. 

India vs Kenya, 2003 World Cup, Durban: Till date, Kenya is the only associate nation to make it to the semi-final of a World Cup. But their fairytale tournament come to an end in the semi-final stage, when they came up against a resurgent Indian team. Having decided to bat first, India faced little trouble in reaching 270 for 4. 

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Sourav Ganguly hit his third century of the tournament, and a brisk start from Virender Sehwag (33) and Sachin Tendulkar (83) gave India a formidable total. Kenya kept losing wickets at regular intervals and never looked to be in the chase. Barring Steve Tikolo’s 56, there was not much to talk about Kenya’s batting. Zaheer Khan looked threatening from the outset and finished with outstanding figures of 3 for 14 from his 9.2 overs. 

India vs Pakistan, 2011 World Cup, Mohali: The fixture, always fraught, was seen as a platform to ease the political tensions between the two countries. The Prime Ministers of both countries were in attendance. While matches between India and Pakistan have always fueled high octane pre-match discussions, the games themselves have more often than not ended up being one-sided affairs, with India running away with a win every single time. 


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This match saw Pakistan drop one catch after another, especially of Tendulkar who made it count and scored a match-winning 85. Despite of the poor fielding display, Wahab Riaz managed to restore some pride, registering 5 for 56, his best ODI bowling figures. In their chase, Pakistan failed to have any substantial partnerships and eventually fell short by 29 runs. Misbah-ul-Haq scored 56 in an otherwise below par batting performance from Pakistan. India put in a clinical bowling performance to reach their third World Cup final. 

India vs Australia, 2015 World Cup, Sydney: India was not in the best of form in the lead up to the World Cup. They had just lost the Border-Gavaskar Test series and failed to register a single win in the ODI tri-series that featured Australia and England. However, what they did in the World Cup was nothing short of remarkable.

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Their bowling attack was so lethal that they bowled their opposition out in each of the seven matches leading up to the semi-final. Against an Australia side in top form, however, the Indian bowlers managed to pick up just seven Australian wickets as the hosts powered to 328, thanks to Steve Smith’s brilliant century. Barring a good start from openers Rohit Sharma (34) and Shikhar Dhawan (45), and MS Dhoni’s run-a-ball 65, the Indian batting unit failed to get anywhere close to the target, eventually losing the match by 95 runs.   

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