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    May 09, 2006

    World Cup kicks off with West Indies v Pakistan

    The ninth World Cup tournament starts on March 13 next year with hosts West Indies taking on Pakistan.

    Over the previous eight tournaments, the first game has caused ripples on quite a few occasions. 1975 saw Sunil Gavaskar contribute a rapidfire 36* as India fell only 202 short of England's total. In 1979, Gavaskar crawled to 8 in 7 balls but India made only 190 and if you thought West Indies lost since they hadn't got to the target by the 50th over, think again - this was a 60 over game!

    In 1983, Martin Snedden had his moment of fame (cruelly snatched away from him by Mick Lewis) with a stellar bowling performance. He stole the show ahead of Hadlee (1/26 in 12 overs) and a 20-year old Martin Crowe's 97. In 1987, Sri Lanka ran Pakistan very close with Mahanama's wicket being the turning point and a late blitz by Aravinda de Silva couldn't prevent the hosts from winning.

    The biggest upset for the opening game of a World Cup came in 1992 when New Zealand recovered from a sloppy start thanks to Martin Crowe's brilliant unbeaten century. When Australia batted, New Zealand's bowling lineup of Dibbly, Dobbly, Wibbly and Wobbly (David Lloyd's memorable description of Watson, Harris, Latham and Larsen) and Chris Cairns' brilliant direct hit from the boundary to run David Boon out, ensured the hosts (and favourites?) started pathetically. In 1996, Nathan Astle's century and England's panicky batting after Hick got out ensured defeat for England, who only won two games in the tournament - against UAE and Holland. England had a better start in 1999 at home, easily chasing down Sri Lanka's pitiful 204, a false dawn, surely!

    The 2003 tournament saw the most thrilling opener so far as West Indies beat hosts South Africa by 3 runs. Brian Lara's superb century and some valuable late biffing by Sarwan and Powell meant that South Africa were chasing 279 rather than 250, and they had one over less to bat! When Klusener got out, caught on the mid-wicket boundary with 8 to get in 4 balls, he didn't bother to run, which meant Ntini faced rather than Boje. Who knows what may have happened had Boje faced and won the game? Ultimately South Africa, the hosts, missed out on the Super Six spot because they tied with Sri Lanka and lost out to West Indies on the head-to-head record!

    What will West Indies v Pakistan next year have in store?

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 1:41 pm |
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