From the archive: The Cricket World Cup’s biggest shocks

Waqar Younis of Pakistan is bowled out by Mohammed Rafique of Bangladesh, seen celebrating with his wicketkeeper Khaled Masud in a Cricket World Cup game in Northampton in 1999. Photo: Martin Hayhow/AFP

Waqar Younis of Pakistan is bowled out by Mohammed Rafique of Bangladesh, seen celebrating with his wicketkeeper Khaled Masud in a Cricket World Cup game in Northampton in 1999. Photo: Martin Hayhow/AFP

Published Oct 17, 2023


The Proteas' shock defeat to the Netherlands was not the first time David felled Goliath at the Cricket World Cup.

Here is a list of a few previous World Cup shockers…

1. Zimbabwe beat Australia by 13 runs, Trent Bridge, 1983

A shock that reverberated all the way from Nottingham through to Sydney down to Harare. The African first-timers defeated one of the game’s superpowers, who still had legends like Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson plus South Africa’s Kepler Wessels in their team. Dave Houghton’s side were not overawed and after settling the initial nerves through a solid 55-run opening partnership between Ali OmarShah and Grant Paterson. Former England coach Duncan Fletcher kicked on later with a half-century. The Australians floundered in their chase despite batting all 60 overs as Fletcher completed a brilliant all-round game with four wickets.

2. South Africa beat Australia by nine wickets, Sydney Cricket Ground 1992

If this result had to occur today it would not register on the Richter scale. But the significance of this result lies in the fact that it was South Africa’s first World Cup match after its re-introduction into international cricket after isolation. The match started in controversial fashion when umpire Brian Aldridge failed to raise his finger when Geoff Marsh blatantly edged Allan Donald’s first delivery behind to wicket-keeper David Richardson. South Africa calmed down after the initial disappointment to restrict the co-hosts to a paltry 170/9, which captain and former Aussie Wessels, in conjunction with Peter Kirsten, chased down with ease.

3. Kenya beat West Indies by 73 runs, Nehru Stadium, Poona 1996

The Kenyans struggled against the pace of Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Ian Bishop but somehow scraped towards 166. But Rajab Ali and Mourice Odumbe produced inspired spells of bowling, especially Ali who claimed the big wicket of Brian Lara as the Windies were skittled for just 93. This was the same Windies team that went on to stop a previously rampant South African side in the quarter-finals.

4. Bangladesh beat Pakistan by 62 runs, County Ground, Northampton 1999

Bangladesh has looked like no-hopers during their maiden appearance at the World Cup until that point. In reverse, Pakistan had looked like world champions, even beating Australia prior to that fateful day. It is still uncertain whether Bangladesh actually played well or whether Pakistan simply imploded, especially with all the run outs that crippled their innings. It was a significant victory nonetheless for the Tigers as it fast-forwarded their push for Test status, which was achieved the following year.

5. Kenya beat Sri Lanka by 53 runs, Gymkhana Club Ground, Nairobi 2003

This defeat still rankles with the likes of Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakkara. Opener Kennedy Otieno provided the backbone of the home team’s innings, but the 1996 champions would still have been confident of chasing down the required 210 for victory at the halfway point. However, leg-spinner Collins Obuya had other ideas and claimed a “five-for” to give Kenya one of their most famous victories on home soil. With other teams not going to Nairobi because of political differences, it was enough for Kenya to ride the wave all the way to the semi-finals.

6. Ireland beat Pakistan by 3 wickets (D/L method), Sabina Park, Jamaica 2007

A match that ultimately had disastrous consequences with Pakistan’s coach Bob Woolmer found dead in his hotel room after the defeat. Notwithstanding this trauma, it was a significant moment in Irish’s cricket history as it showed the world they were capable of sitting at the dining table of the Full Member nations. Pakistan’s batting was dismal as they slumped to 132 all out before Niall O’Brien (72) and his teammates endured some nervy moments and the rain during the chase, but ultimately got over the line in magnificent fashion on St Patrick’s Day.

7. Ireland beat England by 3 wickets, M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore 2011

The Netherlands had already given England an almighty fright in a previous round-robin game, but Andrew Strauss’s men did not heed any lessons. Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell played well enough to power their team to 327, which they would have thought was sufficient especially when Ireland were staring down the barrel at 111/5 during their run chase. Enter the pink-haired Kevin O’Brien who showed anything his brother Niall can do, he can do better by blasting the fastest century (50 balls, 13x4, 6x6) in World Cup history to send the Irish into delirium and England into a depression.

8. India beat West Indies by 43 runs, Lord’s, World Cup Final 1983

A victory that changed the global cricket landscape forever when Kapil Dev’s India lowered the flag of the mighty West Indies, who were on course for a hat-trick of World Cup titles. Medium-pacers Madan Lal and Mohinder Amarnath utilised the overhead conditions and green-tinged surface to perfection as they managed to defend just 183. But it also took a brilliant catch from Kapil Dev running back, and holding onto a chance over his shoulder, to dismiss the great Sir Viv Richards. It was such a momentous victory that Netflix recently released a movie in celebration of the moment.

9. Afghanistan beat England by 69 runs, Delhi, 2023

England are the current defending world champions, but came unstuck against a determined Afghanistan side just a couple of days ago. It was the Afghanistan’s spin trio of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman and Mohammed Nabi that sent England spiralling with eight wickets between them.


IOL Sport