In an earlier article, Srikanth Mangalam wrote about his Greatest Indian Moments at the World Cup. But what about India’s worst moments? Here is my list in chronological order.
In the first match of the first World Cup, India batting second needed 335 to win of 60 overs. India just managed 132, but it was the manner in which it was achieved that makes it rank as one of India’s worst World Cup moments. Sunil Gavaskar opened the batting and batted for the entire 60 overs making a paltry 36 off 174 balls – that is a strike rate of around 20! There was also a recent Cricinfo article about this farce.
Nothing ever gets written about this campaign. The reason: India lost all games, even the one they played against Sri Lanka – this was three years before Sri Lanka even became a test playing nation. The less said about this campaign, the better.
India looked the best team in the tournament — until they played the semis. First they let Gooch literally sweep his way to a hundred and then let the English offspinner Hemmings take a four-for. The organizer’s dream of a India vs Pakistan final just wilted away (Pakistan lost the other semi-final against Australia)
This was a disaster all the way. They started by loosing the first match against England after looking good midway through the run chase, to then threw it all away. The second match against Sri Lanka was abandoned after playing just 2 balls. Then, India collapsed after a Mohammed Azharuddin runout against Australia and lost by 1 run. That was just the beginning: the disaster continued throughout the whole tournament and the only highlight was a win against eventual winner Pakistan. The other consolation win in the tournament was against a lowly Zimbabwe.
Set to chase 251, India were 8 down for 120 after being 98 for 1 at one stage. The collapse occurred after Tendulkar was stumped for 65. The Eden Gardens crowd, disgusted at the collapse, started a mini riot and set the stands on fire! The match was stopped and the game was awarded to Sri Lanka. After the match fixing scandal episode, this probably ranks as India’s second lowest moment in cricketing history – and I am not referring to the loss.
With Tendulkar back in India after his father passed away, India could not chase down 252 after being 174 for 4 in the 33rd over. The loss eventually meant that Zimbabwe qualified for the Super Six Stage ahead of England and by the bizarre way in which the points were counted, India ended up in the last spot in the Super Sixes. If England had qualified, India could have gone into the semis as they had already beaten them in one of the Group matches!