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The Rediff Special/Sheelpa Kothari
Controversies that spiked World Cups
March 03, 2007
Mega events and controversies go hand in hand and none of the World Cups so far have been an exception.
The upcoming edition in the Caribbean has only kept the tradition alive with the pull out of Pakistani pace duo Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, officially due to injuries, surrounded by suspicions of dope.
Asif and Akhtar were banned for one and two years respectively after testing positive for banned drug nandrolone last year but were exonerated subsequently.
The controversy continued to simmer with the ICC challenging the revoking of the ban in the Court of Arbitration for Sport and CEO Malcolm Speed announcing that players would be 'target tested' at the World Cup.
Then came the withdrawal of the players hours before the team's departure from Lahore, with the Pakistan Cricket Board saying that the two had not adequately recovered from an elbow and knee injury.
Doping was also an issue in the previous edition in 2003, when Shane Warne, who tested positive for a diuretic, was forced out on the eve of Australia's opening game in the tournament in South Africa.
But a bigger controversy was still waiting in Zimbabwe, where some of the players mourned the "death of democracy" by Robert Mugabe's regime.
Andy Flower and Henry Olonga wore black armbands in their opening game as a mark of protest against the situation in the country.
The Nasser Hussain-led England refused to travel to Harare to play their match and Zimbabwe were given a walkover. New Zealand also preferred to concede the game to Kenya instead of travelling to Nairobi following a bomb explosion in Mombasa.
But the tournament itself was in jeopardy as the Indian cricketers were involved in a row with their Board over the ambush marketing clause.
The previous edition in 1999, coming as it did an year before Cronjegate rocked the cricket world, was marred by match-fixing claims.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar alleged that India's match against Zimbabwe, which the former lost by three runs, was fixed.
Later, when the Delhi Police threw open the lid with their taped conversations between Hansie Cronje and bookie Sanjeev Chawla, South Africa's loss to Zimbabwe and Pakistan's to Bangladesh also came under a cloud.
The sixth edition of the quadrennial event in 1996, jointly hosted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, began with a controversy too.
Australia and the West Indies refused to send their teams to Sri Lanka after a terror attack in Colombo.
Sri Lanka were awarded points and that helped them in qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Then came India's semi-final against Sri Lanka that was disrupted by crowd violence and the match had to be awarded to the latter.
The 1992 edition would be remembered for the infamous semi-final between South Africa and England.
The Proteas were engaged in a spirited chase of England's target and were needing 22 runs from 13 balls when play was stopped briefly due to rain.
On resumption, South Africa were asked to score the same number of runs from just one ball, thanks to a strange rain-rule.
The 1987 World Cup, staged outside England for the first time, had initially ran into trouble with the Indian government threatening to refuse visas to players who had toured South Africa.
In 1983, England, the West Indies and Sri Lanka fielded weakened sides as some of their players were part of rebel tours to South Africa and were banned.
The 1979 World Cup too saw teams including Australia not at full strength, thanks to Kerry Packer's World Series.
The blow, however, was softened a bit by a last-minute truce that allowed some of the players featuring in the rival series to take part in the event.
Hosts England made the final against a backdrop of lower crowds and indifferent weather.
The inaugural World Cup in 1975, held when the limited overs game only four years old, had a lukewarm response from the players and the crowd alike.
India, grouped with England, East Africa and New Zealand, had to come in the top two of their pool to advance to semi-finals.
But chasing England's 334 for 4 in 60 overs, they crawled to 132 for 3 with Sunil Gavaskar, opening the innings, carrying his bat to make 36 not out.
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