In a World Cup that has so far been crying out for either a thriller or an upset, New Delhi on Sunday witnessed a result that will be spoken about for ages as Afghanistan stunned defending champions England by 69 runs.
Batting first, Afghanistan had a brilliant start and finish to their innings, scoring 284 in 49.5 overs. With the pitch starting to grip and offer turn in the first half, that felt like a good challenge for Jos Buttler and Co, especially with the quality of spinners Afghanistan had.
It proved to be more than a challenge as Afghanistan emerged winners and added their names to an elite list of results in the history of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.
1983: India stun West Indies, not once but twice
By now we all know the story. India were no favourites for the 1983 World Cup. Not even close. But they made the world sit up and take notice of the talent in the squad when West Indies were stunned in a group stage fixture. Yashpal Sharma’s 89 powered India to a match-winning total as India stunned Clive Lloyd and Co in a match that lasted a couple of days in Manchester. For context, India’s only previous win in the tournament history had come against East Africa in 1975 while West Indies had not lost a single match until that day, winning both 1975 and 1979 editions. India had come into that tournament, defeating West Indies in West Indies in an ODI, which in hindsight has been marked as a turning-point moment, but to start the world cup in this fashion was stunning.
And then the famous day at Lord’s. Stories have been written and a movie has been made one of the most important results in the history of cricket. Kapil Dev and Co stunned Lloyd’s men for what would be only their second defeat in the tournament’s brief history back then. A stuttering batting effort saw India post 183 and then a collective bowling effort combined with that famous running catch by Kapil to dismiss Viv Richards, took India past the finish line. India went from rank outsiders to World Champions.
Perhaps the seeds for both those results were sown in Berbice in March, when India defeated West Indies in an ODI for the first time.
March 29, 1983: Why India’s win against West Indies in Berbice still remains special
1992: South Africa beat Australia on debut
The 1992 edition ended for South Africa in the most bizarre fashion (who can forget the 22 runs off 1 ball flashing on the scorecard at the end of a rain-hit semifinal against England at SCG). But it started off magnificently. For starters, the quality in the South African lineup in 1992 doesn’t necessarily mark this one as an upset in terms of how the two teams perhaps matched up. But it is worth remembering that South Africa had only just returned to international cricket after more than two decades. Before the 1992 World Cup, South Africa had played only three ODIs, when they toured India and had lost two and won one.
Allan Donald’s 3/34 in 10 overs saw Allan Border and Co fold for 170/9. The defending champions then saw their campaign start off with a defeat as one of their own from the past, Kepler Wessels, led South Africa’s run-chase with a superb unbeaten 81. Australia would never really recover from that defeat, losing the next match too and missing out on the semifinals in the end in a World Cup they entered as favourites in their own backyard.
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What a way to register your county’s first-ever win against a full-member side in the men’s ODI World Cup. Afghanistan did not just defeat England, they dominated for large parts. It was just their second win in the competition’s history, with the previous one coming against Scotland. They threatened to pull off something in 2019, most memorably pushing India to their limits, but on Sunday in front of a good crowd in Delhi, they registered arguably the biggest win in their brief cricketing history. Former India opener Kris Srikkanth hailed it as “the greatest world cup upset win” he has ever seen.
Jos Buttler had said at the start of the tournament, “I don’t see us as defending champions. We’re very much in the same boat now as everybody sat here on the eve of the tournament trying to win it.” He also went on to add that he wasn’t a fan of the phrase ‘defending champions’ either. But this defeat will sting England, not just for the nature of it but for their hopes of going the distance. “Congratulations to Afghanistan, they outplayed us today,” the England captain said after the defeat at the Arun Jaitley stadium.
Video: Here’s a closer look at the biggest upsets overall in men’s ODI World Cup history
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