ICL: Indian Cricket League


Cup a curse for hosts, but do not tell the Windies

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When the West Indies open the 2007 World Cup against Pakistan in Jamaica on March 13, they won’t want to be reminded that a host nation has never lifted the trophy.

The Cup has been jinxed for the hosts ever since the competition started in England in 1975 but the burden of expectation has not always been the main reason for the home teams leaving the party earlier than expected.

It may be a flash of individual brilliance, like England batsman Graham Gooch’s century in India in 1987, or a pure mathematical error, as by South Africa in 2003, but the outcome has been the same.

England’s rich one-day experience counted little in big matches when they hosted the first three tournaments, their best coming in 1979 when they finished runners-up to Clive Lloyd’s West Indians.

They looked impressive in group matches before being blown away in the 1975 semifinal by Australian all-rounder Gary Gilmour.

The left-arm paceman made merry on a seaming Headingley track when he finished with 6-14 to bowl the hosts out for a meagre 93, becoming the first bowler in the process to grab six wickets in One-day Internationals (ODIs).

England were very much in the game when they reduced Australia to 39-6, but again ran into Gilmour who scored a vital 28 not out to see his team home in a low-scoring encounter. The hosts again looked the best prepared team in 1979 till the final against the West Indies. It was the combined excellence of Viv Richards and Collis King that sank England.

Richards hammered an unbeaten 138 and shared a century stand with King (86) to help his side post a challenging 286-9 off their allotted 60 overs.

England made a solid start when skipper Mike Brearley and Geoff Boycott put on 129 for the opening wicket, but consumed more than half of their stipulated overs before being restricted to 194.

They were the third time unlucky in the 1983 semifinal against eventual winners India. It was a combined Indian effort that saw England lose by six wickets.

When the World Cup arrived in the sub-continent in 1987, India and Pakistan were also done in by the curse of the hosts, leaving millions of fans in shock and disbelief.

Those praying for the India-Pakistan final at the Eden Gardens in Calcutta had no option but to watch a young Australian side beat England in a close match.

Allan Border’s Australians ruined Pakistan’s party with an 18-run victory in the first semifinal at Lahore.

The same fate was to befall India, who were knocked out in the semifinal at Bombay.

It was now Australia’s turn to suffer the fate of the hosts in 1992.

Australia were crushed by the weight of expectations and never looked at their best when they hosted the tournament with New Zealand. They even failed to qualify for the semifinals.

New Zealand looked a better side under Martin Crowe before being buried by Pakistan in the semifinal at Auckland, again by an individual brilliance.

It was a battle among the hosts in 1996 as India beat Pakistan in the quarter-finals before being beaten by Sri Lanka in the semifinal, awarded to the winners after riots in Calcutta.

The Pakistani fans then watched Arjuna Ranatunga’s Sri Lankans beat Mark Taylor’s Australians in the day-night final at Lahore.

England’s worst as hosts came in 1999 when they were eliminated after the group matches.

The same fate was in store for hosts South Africa in 2003 when they failed to qualify for the Super Six stage. It was not a gem of a knock, but a miscalculation that led to South Africa’s elimination.

They apparently thought they had won the rain-hit group game against Sri Lanka when they levelled the scores with one ball to spare. In fact, they needed one more run to win.

Source:The News

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This entry was posted on Monday, February 26th, 2007 and is filed under General.

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