Winners: West Indies
Group A: England, Australia, Pakistan, Canada
Group B: West Indies, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, IndiaThe second Prudential World Cup in 1979, proved yet another stupendous achievement. The West Indians confirm their domination again as they lifted the second successive World Cup with the most authoritative fashion. Nobody came close to match Caribbean prowess as an exceptional talented team. Again eight countries took part, and from a cricketer's point of view it was a shame that once more South Africa were not considered again. The two associate members, Sri Lanka and Canada joined the remaining six playing nations. As in the last tournament, the teams participating were divided in two groups of four.
The hosts England topped Group A with three wins. Pakistan finished runners-up after beating Aussies, who entered the tournament without experienced players like Tony Greig, Alan Knott, Ian and Greg Chappell, Doug Walters and Rod Marsh.
In Group B, firm favorites West Indies finished at the top while New Zealand secured a runners-up spot.
Sri Lanka’s surprise 47-run win against India hogged the limelight in Group B. It was the only win by an associate member of the ICC in the competition and was richly deserved.
In the semi-final, England sneaked home by just 9 runs against New Zealand. After being sent into bat by Mark Burgess, England could only manage 221, with Kiwi spearhead Richard Hadlee, tied down the strong English batting. Graham Gooch top-scored with 71 off 84 balls.
New Zealand got off to a blocks well with John Wright and Edgar adding 47 for the opening wicket. Then New Zealand kept losing wickets in the middle overs and reached 180 for six, before Warren Lees and Lance Cairns fell to Mike Hendrick. With 14 required from the last over, sent down by Ian Botham, New Zealand went out of the World Cup in a tragic way.
In the second semi-final at Kennington Oval, West Indies posted 293/6 with Greenidge, Haynes, Richards, Lloyd contributing to the cause. Pakistan went down fighting by 43 runs after a superb showing by Zaheer Abbas (93) and Majid Khan (81). Pakistan lost their last nine wickets for 74 runs and dreams of making it to the Lord’s finally were shattered when it looked well within their gasp.
The final was sanctified with a perfect playing conditions and weather gods supporting the cause to perfection. England captain Mike Brearley won the toss and put West Indies into bat. England seamers Botham, Old and Hendrick bowled with good control and scalped first four wickets with just 99 runs and had the initiative. Then came the nightmare for English bowlers who were strongly hit by Richards’ storm. Richards was in a mood to smash England on an eventful day.
He converted the good balls into juicy ones and cruised along to put the West Indies in a great position. The exuberance of Richards swung the match away from the Englishmen. Richards finally ended unbeaten on 138 out of 286, after putting on 139 with Collis King (86), finished the innings with a towering six into the Mound Stand.
England responded in an emphatic fashion with openers Mike Brearley and Geoff Boycott putting on 129 for the first wicket. But Michael Holding removed both the openers in quick succession and with asking run-rate climbing up, West Indies were the firm favorites for the title. Joel Garner tore out the England middle order on his way to figures of five for 38 off 11 overs.
His victims came in an 11-ball spell that cost four runs and England tumbled to 194 all out to lose by 92 runs.
Richards rightly deserved the Man of the Match with his brutal assault, had ensured just that, signing off a grand tournament with an unforgettable finale.