Low-scoring thrillers, tense ties, and thrilling comebacks abound in the 12 editions of the Cricket World Cup. Cricket fans have been on the edge of their seats from the outset, whether it’s a Kevin O’Brien-inspired Ireland chasing down 328 or India rebounding from 17 for 5 to win.
Here’s a look back at the top 10 matches from the Cricket World Cup.
1. Australia vs West Indies | 1975
The first Cricket World Cup final was bound to go down in history, but the West Indies and Australia produced a match that stands the test of time as one of the tournament’s best.
The stage was Lord’s, and the sweltering June weather meant that throngs spilled out of the stands, with young spectators romping into the pitch with every boundary struck.
And Clive Lloyd delivered a classic captain’s performance, guiding his team from 50 for 3 to victory with a merciless century in a 149-run fourth-wicket stand with Rohan Kanhai.
Despite a rollicking run chase led by Ian Chappell’s 62, Australia fell 17 runs short of a target of 291 — defeated by Viv Richards’ prowess in the field, which included three consecutive runouts.
2. Australia vs South Africa | 1999
South Africa appeared to be a simple equation away from the World Cup final, but what followed was an art form of uncertainty and drama that saw them miss out on a first-ever final.
Australia reached 213 when Shaun Pollock took five wickets for 36 runs, and Jonty Rhodes and Jacques Kallis combined to leave their side needing one run to win with one wicket remaining.
However, when Lance Klusener pushed towards the mid-off and Allan Donald didn’t hear his call for a quick single, Adam Gilchrist smashed off the bails, and the Aussies wheeled away.
3. England vs Ireland | 2011
No one name in the legendary history of this pinnacle event has ever been so inextricably linked to a single match as Kevin O’Brien is with this specific thriller.
The English side flexed their powers in the early half of the game, with Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, and Jonathan Trott leading England to 327 for 8 from 50 overs, a total no side had ever chased before.
O’Brien, who had not scored a half-century in nine World Cup innings, bludgeoned 13 fours and 6 sixes to defy the odds. It was the fastest century in Cricket World Cup history, and it may never be surpassed in terms of its significance to the Irish cricketing story.
4. New Zealand vs South Africa | 2015
South Africa, seeking a first appearance in the final of the coveted tournament, had their foot in the home team’s throat for the most part, with Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers helping their team reach 281/5 from 43 overs.
In the run-chase, the Proteas were confronted with the full power of a nation and Brendon McCullum’s bat as the skipper slammed 59 at a staggering strike rate of 226.92.
Grant Elliott, on the other hand, had to play the innings of his life, matching the strain of requiring 5 runs from 2 balls by lifting Dale Steyn for 6 over mid-on and igniting frenzied celebrations.
5. India vs England | 2011
A game does not have to have a winner for it to be a classic, as the 2011 duel between host nation India and England demonstrated.
There is no greater strain in cricket than the expectation on India before a World Cup campaign on home soil, and an opening-night triumph over Bangladesh calmed nerves. And Bangalore was rewarded by Sachin Tendulkar at his magical best, stroking his way to 120 and establishing a magnificent 339.
Graham Swann and Ajmal Shahzad led their team to a thrilling tie, while Andrew Strauss, a batsman whose technique does not resemble short-form pyrotechnics, set the bar high with 158.
6. India vs Zimbabwe | 1983
There’s something wonderful about a team romping to victory, but nothing woos cricketing hearts more than a stirring comeback from batting oblivion.
India collapsed to 17 for 5 in a top-order totter to equal all others, and it appeared that their opening-game victory over reigning champions the West Indies would be in vain. But skipper Kapil Dev smashed 175 off 138 balls to lift his side to 266 and set Zimbabwe on a hard run chase.
Madan Lal and Dev turned the screw with the ball, winning a surprising victory and laying the groundwork for a campaign that would culminate with India lifting the World Cup title at Lord’s a fortnight later.
7. Australia vs India | 1987
With the ODI World Cup departing from familiar English turf for the first time since its establishment, a compelling opening game was required to demonstrate that India could also be an excellent host.
But none of the hundreds who crammed into the Madras stadium could have predicted how tightly the two countries would be matched.
Australia silenced the home audience with a powerful performance at the crease, with Geoff Marsh carving out 110 runs and asking India to chase down 270 runs in 50 overs.
A dominant partnership followed for every Indian wicket that fell in a fascinating push-pull battle, but the heroics of Navjot Sidhu and Krishnamachari Srikkanth would be in vain and result in a one-run loss.
8. Australia vs West Indies | 1996
This game marked the end of one cricketing dynasty and the birth of another when Australia defeated the West Indies in the semi-finals for the first time in history.
Richie Richardson, who was retiring from one-day cricket at the end of the tournament, would have been rubbing his hands when Australia collapsed to 15 for four.
Despite Stuart Law and Michael Bevan leading a comeback to 207, the West Indies appeared to have more than enough when Shivnarine Chanderpaul careered them to 165 for 2. Then came an amazing batting collapse, with 7 wickets falling for 29 runs and Australia reaching their first final in nine years.
9. India vs Pakistan | 2003
The arch-rivals India and Pakistan played a fantastic match, and spectators in Centurion witnessed three one-day cricket phenomenons at their best.
Saeed Anwar was the first, flicking and forcing his way to a century to keep his team in the game, recording 273 for 7 from 50 overs. Tendulkar was at his nuggety best once more, producing one of his best ODI innings to lead his team to victory.
Many will remember the game for the sheer venom of Shoaib Akhtar’s bowling, which dismissed Tendulkar with an absolute snorter that dealt a blow to Pakistan as a whole.
10. India vs West Indies | 1983
A low-scoring thriller is unbeatable, and one of the genre’s classics happened on the largest platform of all — the tournament final in 1983.
The West Indies bowling assault smothered India with swing, seam, and pace, with Andy Roberts collecting 3 for 32 from 10 overs and Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding each getting 2 wickets.
Defeating 184 seemed like an easy assignment, but Viv Richards’ team stumbled, unable to live up to the favourite tag that saw them win the first two tournaments.