The 1987 World Cup, sponsored by Reliance, was the first World Cup to be staged outside England. West Indies, the pre-tournament favorites at the previous tournaments in 1975, 70 and 83 were no longer a dominant force to reckon with. India too looked out of sorts. Few backed Australia to win the World Cup.
But Australian finest hour finally arrived at the Eden Gardens on November 8, 1987, a full of 12 years after the maiden cup when they beat England by seven runs and Allan Border held the trophy aloft.
It was again the same playing nations that featured in 83 World Cup, took part in a similar fashion. The only noticeable change was that the matches were reduced from 60 to 50 overs.
In Group A, India and Australia topped the group with five out of six wins and losing once to each other. Aussies win the first encounter by just one run at Madras and India getting a better of Australia at the Ferozeshah Kotla by 56 runs. West Indies, in transition, missed their fast bowlers of experience. New Zealand, too, were in transition in the absence of Richard Hadlee. Sri Lanka, in the field, were utterly defensive, and confronted by mammoth totals their talented batsmen were crushed.
Like the Sri Lankans, the Zimbabweans returned home without a victory, except Dave Houghton gaining friends by sheer heroism, the innings of 142 against New Zealand.
Pakistan headed the Group B with five wins. England took honors for the second place with four wins. Co-Hosts India and Pakistan were favorites to meet in finals but it happened exactly the opposite of it. Both teams were crushed.When the Aussies traveled to Lahore for their semi-final, Australians were given a losers tag before a ball being balled. At Home, Pakistan was going to be the toughest oppositions. But Border led his team strongly to stun the home-side, thanks to Craig McDermott (5/44), who played the hero’s role to perfection. In the second semi-finals, England trounced India by 19 runs to enter finals.
The stage was set for the finals to take place at a picturesque Eden Gardens. Opting to bat, Australian openers David Boon and Geoff Marsh got them off to a dream start putting on 75.
Another 76-run stand between Boon and Dean Jones ensured Australia surpass 250-run mark. Chasing 254 for the win, England was on the cruise mode with Mike Gatting and Bill Athey taking the score to 135/2 in 31 overs. Athey, Lamb, Gatting all lost their cool and England fell helplessly short by seven runs.
It was a moment of glory for the Aussies as they achieved what they had not been able to do in their last three attempts.
First Published: Jan 24, 2003 19:23 IST