With the 2019 World Cup just around the corner, it’s a good time to reflect back on some strong performances. There are performances that remain etched in memory for a long time and they are hard to forget.
The World Cup has seen some best bowling performances not only in its history but also in the history of white-ball cricket. Hence, we look back at a few such performances. Here are five memorable bowling performances from World Cup history.
Mitchell Starc 6/28 vs New Zealand – 2015
How often do you see a spell of 6/28 in nine overs end up on the losing side? That’s the fate Mitchell Starc suffered four years back, in the last World Cup. In what was a low-scoring thriller, Starc certainly produced one of the spells of the World Cup.
There’s barely any team that has defended 152 in modern-day cricket in ODIs. Be it any pitch, 152 is under-par and the team defending the total has almost negligible chances of winning. However, a certain Mitchell Starc almost made it possible.
Starc picked up the first wicket, sending back Martin Guptill in the fourth over. That was his only success in the first spell but he came back in the second spell and picked up back to back wickets to create some hope. He had figures of 6-0-24-3 after his second spell. New Zealand were under a bit of pressure but some smart batting from Kane Williamson and Corey Anderson got them closer.
Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Marsh weren’t effective enough and hence, it prompted skipper Michael Clarke to go back to his strike bowler with 15 needed and five wickets remaining. Starc came back and had an impact straight away.
He bounced Luke Ronchi out before Pat Cummins got the wicket of Daniel Vettori. With six runs needed, Starc produced a couple of magical deliveries. He nailed the yorker such that neither Tim Southee nor Adam Milne had a chance. He had six-for already with two balls to spare. However, Trent Boult managed to keep those two deliveries out before Williamson struck six next over to finish the game.
But Starc’s 6/28 was one of the most dramatic spells in World Cup history.
Ashish Nehra 6/23 vs England – 2003
The 2003 World Cup campaign was a memorable one for the Indian side which was led by the inspirational Sourav Ganguly. On their run to the final, they faced England in the 30th game of the 2003 edition. They had put up 250 batting first. There was a little bit of nip and movement in the Durban track. And it was Ashish Nehra who exploited it beautifully.
England lost a couple of early wickets, courtesy a brilliant run out from Mohammed Kaif and a Zaheer Khan bumper. England then did manage to string a partnership as Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan added 34 runs for the third wicket. However, it was just then Ashish Nehra struck and once that happened, there was no turning back for the left-arm pacer.
He first got rid of Hussain before dismissing Alec Stewart for a golden duck the very next ball. And that started the procession. Nehra ripped apart the England batting line-up in what was a manic unchanged 10-over spell. Batsmen kept coming and going one after the other as Nehra went on a rampage. Vaughan, Collingwood, Flintoff, White and Irani were the others who were Nehra’s victims.
Nehra finished with 6/23 which helped India humble England. Those figures are still the best ever figures by an Indian in a World Cup game.
Andy Bichel 7/20 vs England – 2003
This is one game that Andy Bichel and the Australian fans will never forget. It was a performance that players dream of. He first took wickets and then got runs which helped Australia win the game.
It was barely a week after Nehra had jolted England with a memorable spell and Andy Bichel produced another. He went one better as he picked up seven wickets in the game. Batting first, England had a good opening partnership of 66 before Bichel came along and broke it. He dismissed Nick Knight in the 10th over before coming back with a double-wicket over as he sent back Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan. Paul Collingwood became Bichel’s fourth scalp in his first spell (6-0-12-4).
Alex Stewart and Andrew Flintoff managed to stitch a 90-run partnership for the sixth wicket. However, it was Bichel once again who broke the stand and gave Australia another opening. That applied the brakes on the scoring rate as he picked up a couple more wickets finishing with figures of 7/20 in his 10 overs.
Chasing 205, Australia were reduced to 135/8 before Bichel joined hands with Michael Bevan to take his team through. Hence, it was a memorable day for the Queenslander. His spell of 7/20 is the second best figures in World Cup history.
Glenn McGrath 5/14 vs West Indies – 1999
Glenn McGrath is perhaps the greatest bowler to have ever played the Cricket World Cup. McGrath simply loved bowling on the big stage and he delivered almost every time. He is the leading wicket-taker (71 wickets) of all time in World Cup cricket and his numbers are simply brilliant. Moreover, there’s no surprise that he holds the record for the best figures in World Cup history.
However, that doesn’t feature in this list. In 1999, Australia had an indifferent start to the World Cup campaign as they won two and lost two. The game against West Indies was an important one and one of the biggest match-winners stood up and produced one of the best spells in World Cup history.
After winning the toss, Australia elected to field first and McGrath didn’t let his captain down. He bowled beautifully with the new ball, troubling most of the West Indian batsmen. He picked three wickets in his first spell, including that of Brain Lara to rock the Windies. He later came back to wipe out the tail and finish with figures of 8.4-3-14-5.
It set up the game for Australia as they just had to chase 111 and this win gave them momentum going forward in the tournament.
Winston Davis 7/51 vs Australia (1983)
It’s important to start any big tournament like the World Cup well. However, two-time champions West Indies had lost the first game to India in the 1983 edition. Hence, it was important to beat another powerhouse Australia in their second game.
After being put into bat, Windies scored 252 in their 60 overs. Winston Davis came in and acted as a partnership breaker initially. He first broke a promising stand between Kim Hughes and David Hookes before he broke the partnership between Hookes and Yallop later on. But once he got these two wickets he was on fire.
One after the other, he kept sending the Aussie batsmen back as he bowled with great intensity and fire. He might’ve given away a few runs but he was successful. He destroyed the entire Australian batting line-up as he picked up 7/51, giving West Indies their first win in the 1983 World Cup.