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1975 To 2023: How India Fared In World Cup Openers

October 09, 2023 12:22 IST
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IMAGE: India opened their 2023 World Cup campaign on a winning note. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Rohit Sharma-led India opened their 2023 World Cup campaign with a win over Australia at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday.

Let's take a look at how India has fared in the opening matches of the World Cups:

1975 World Cup: India lose to England by 202 runs 

India's first ever match in a World Cup resulted in a thumping 202 run defeat at the hands of hosts England.

The match is famously remembered for Sunil Gavaskar's tedious 36 from 174 balls after being set 335 for victory in the 60-overs contest.

England scored 334/4 in their allotted 60 overs. but India, who were led by Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan, never attempted to chase down the runs and finished on 132/3 in their 60 overs on the opening day of the inaugural World Cup in 1975.

Gavaskar, who faced a lot of flak for his bizarre approach, later admitted that he believed the target was unachievable and he decided to get some match practice.

India failed to make it to the semi-finals of the first World Cup. They beat East Africa by 10 wickets before suffering a four-wicket defeat to New Zealand in their final league game.

1979 World Cup: India lose to West Indies by 9 wickets

India got a nine-wicket thrashing at the hands of defending champions West Indies in the opening match of the 1979 World Cup.

Andy Roberts (2/32) and Michael Holding (4/33) sent India crashing for 190 in 53.1 overs before Clive Lloyd's side chased down the target courtesy of Gordon Greenidge's 106.

Gundappa Viswanath was the only India batter to stand tall against the Windies pace battery as he played a magnificent 75. None of his team-mates could even go past 15.

India lost all their matches in the league stage, going down to New Zealand by eight wickets and a shock 47-run defeat against Sri Lanka.


1983 World Cup: India beat West Indies by 34 runs

India made the cricketing world sit up and take note when they defied all odds to upset the all-conquering West Indies in the opening game of the 1983 World Cup.

The late Yashpal Sharma top-scored with 89 to power India to 262/8 in their 60 overs before the all-powerful batting line-up of the Windies comprising of greats like Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes came undone against a spirited bowling performance from the underdogs.

A young Ravi Shastri played a major role with the ball, picking up 3/26, while Roger Binny claimed 3/48 to bowl out the West Indies for 228.

That game was instrumental in boosting the morale of the Indians, who didn't fancy their chances going into the World Cup.

But a far greater shock was to come in the final, when India again humbled the West Indies, who failed to chase down 183 at Lord's.

That famous World Cup triumph proved to be the major turning point in India's cricketing journey, while the West Indies have never made it to the finals even once after that.

1987 World Cup: India lose to Australia by 1 run

Four years down the line India became the first country other than England to host the ODI World Cup.

The start was far from ideal for home fans. Defending champions India's first World Cup game at home ended in a 1 run defeat to Australia in a thriller in Chennai.

The 1987 World Cup saw the number of overs being reduced to 50 overs from 60 overs and it turned out to be a huge hit with spectators.

Australia put on a challenging 270/6 in 50 overs thanks to Geoff Marsh's fluent 110. In reply, Kris Srikkanth (70) and Navjot Singh Sidhu (73) hit half-centuries put India on course for victory before they suffered a sensational batting collapse.

India needed eight runs from the final over bowled by Steve Waugh, but Manoj Prabhakar was run out trying a non-existent single.

Just like in the historic tied Test at the same venue months earlier, Maninder Singh was once again on strike with two runs needed off the last two balls. He played all over a full delivery from Waugh, looking to swing it out of the ground, and was bowled.

The Indians bounced back after that narrow defeat with five wins in a row to make it to the semi-finals, where they went down by 35 runs against England.

1992 World Cup: India lose to England by 9 runs

The 1992 World Cup hosted jointly by Australia and New Zealand saw some major changes with team using coloured clothing for the first time. It was also the first time that the matches were played under lights.

India suffered a nine run defeat against England in their opening match. Graham Gooch's 51 and Robin Smith's 91 guided England to 236/9 in 50 overs.

In reply, India had one batter going past with Shastri scoring a slow 57 from 112 balls. After the middle order failed to make it count, Subroto Banerjee revived India's hopes with a six off Derek Pringle in the 49th over.

With 11 needed from the final over, Javagal Srinath was run out, the fourth of the Indian innings, as India were bundled out for 227.

India failed to make it to the semi-finals as they managed just two wins from eight games played with the game against Sri Lanka washed out due to rain.

1996 World Cup: India beat Kenya by 7 wickets

The World Cup returned to the sub-continent as India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka jointly hosted the event in 1996.

India, led by Mohammad Azharuddin, outclassed minnows Kenya in their opening encounter by seven wickets.

Sachin Tendulkar started off the World Cup in grand style, hitting an unbeaten 127 to take his team to victory after they were set 200 for victory.

India lost the semi-final against Sri Lanka after the match at Eden Gardens was stopped due to crowd trouble.

Sri Lanka staged a stunning recovery from three early wickets down to post 251/8 courtesy of Aravinda de Silva's counter-attacking 68 and a composed half-century from Roshan Mahanama.

Tendulkar starred in India's run chase as he hit 65 from 88 balls, but his dismissal saw the hosts suffer an inexplicable collapse.

From 98/2, India slipped to 120/8 against Sri Lanka's spinners before the Kolkata crowd vented their frustration by setting fire to the stands and throwing bottles at the Lankans.

The match was awarded to Sri Lanka by default, who in case were looking all set for victory. The islanders caused another major upset in the final at Lahore, beating Australia to win their first World Cup.

1999: India lose to South Africa by 4 wickets

In the 1999 edition of the tournament in England, Azharuddin-led India lost their opener to South Africa by four wickets.

Batting first at the County Ground in Brighton, opener Sourav Ganguly top scored for India with a 142 ball 97. A run-out implemented by Jonty Rhodes and Jacques Kallis saw Ganguly fall just three short of his 100.

Rahul Dravid scored a 75-ball 54 as India posted 253 for 5 in 50 overs. Tendulkar (28) and Azharuddin (24) failed to trouble the Proteas bowlers lead by Lance Klusener (3/66) and Allan Donald (1/34).

In response, South Africa got off to a shaky start, courtesy Srinath's two wicket haul, but chased down the target in 47.2 overs.

After losing their openers cheaply, Mark Boucher steadied the ship with a 36-ball 34, before Kallis struck a 128-ball 96 to put Proteas in the driver's seat.

Skipper Hansie Cronje (27) and Rhodes (39*) played useful knocks as South Africa handed India a four wicket loss.

India failed to reach the semis, losing to New Zealand in the Super stage by five wickets as their campaign ended on a disappointing note.

Australia lifted the trophy with an easy win over Pakistan at Lords.

2003 World Cup: India beat The Netherlands by 68 runs

Playing at Boland Park, Paarl in South Africa, India began their campaign with a 68 run win over The Netherlands .

Skipper Sourav Ganguly opened the tournament on the wrong foot as he fell for just 8 off 32. Tendulkar was the only Indian batter to score a half-century as he struck a 72-ball 52. Dinesh Mongia struck a 49-ball 42 for the Men in Blue as they were bowled out by the Dutch for 204 in 48.5 overs.

Tim de Leede -- whose son Bas de Leede scored 67 and took 4 wickets in game 2 of World Cup 2023 against Pakistan on Friday, October 6, 2023 -- pocketed a four-wicket haul to restrict the Indians.

After the Dutch bowled India out for 204 in 48.5 overs, Srinath and Anil Kumble picked up four wickets each to bowl out the opposition for 136 in 48.1 overs. Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh accounted for a wicket each as India picked up a big win.

Only three of the Dutch batters reached double digits. Daan van Bunge top scored with 62 off 116 as wickets tumbled around him.

India went on to win eight matches in the tournament. They lost only two and both were to Australia. The Men in Blue lost to Australia in the final to end up runner-up in the 2003 World Cup.

2007 World Cup: India lose to Bangladesh by 5 wickets 

Playing in the West Indies, India lost their tournament opener to Bangladesh. The Rahul Dravid-led side fell to a five-wicket loss at the hands of their neighbours.

Batting first, India was bowled out for 191 in 49.3 overs at the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Opening the innings, Ganguly top-scored with a 129-ball 66, while Yuvraj Singh struck a 58-ball 14. With Virender Sehwag (2), Robin Uthappa (9) and Tendulkar (7) all falling for single digit scores, India was restricted to a below par total.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni was among the three batters who fell for a duck in the opening contest of the 2007 tournament.

Player-of-the-Match Mashrafe Mortaza bagged a four wicket haul while Abdur Razzak and Mohammed Rafique picked up three wickets each to restrict the starry Indian line-up.

In reply, the Indian bowlers failed to trouble the Bangladeshi batters as they chased down the target in 48.3 overs.

Tamim Iqbal (51), Mushfiqur Rahim (107) and a young Shakib al Hasan (53), who is leading the current Bangladesh side in the 2023 World Cup, struck half-centuries to guide the Tigers to a win.

India played three matches in the 2007 World Cup, registering just one win. While they went down to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, their only win came over Bermuda -- a 257 run victory.

The 2007 tournament was won by Australia, who downed Sri Lanka to lift the trophy.

2011 World Cup: India beat Bangladesh by 87 runs

One of the most memorable World Cups. The tournament wqs co-hosted between India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The stage was set for India to break the trophy drought and the Men in Blue scripted a fairytale finish.

Their journey to the title triumph in 2011 began on a winning note. The Dhoni-led side handed Bangladesh a crushing 87 run defeat in their tournament opener.

Playing at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka, Sehwag and Virat Kohli hammered tons. A seasoned Sehwag struck a 140-ball 175, while a young Kohli scored an unbeaten 100 off 83 as India posted a mammoth 370/4 in 50 overs.

In response, Munaf Patel's four-wicket haul saw Bangladesh fall to a 87 run loss. Bowling economical spells, the Indian bowlers kept Bangladesh on a tight leash as they restricted the home side to 283/9.

Opener Tamim Iqbal top scored with an 86-ball 70. Zaheer Khan picked up two wickets while Harbhajan and Yusuf Pathan accounted for a wicket each.

While India tied one match -- against England at the M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru -- they just lost one more encounter en route to their title triumph. South Africa handed the hosts a 3 wicket loss in a group stage match.

In the final at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, India scripted a fairytale World Cup farewell for Tendulkar as they beat Sri Lanka by six wickets to win the trophy.

2015 World Cup: India beat Pakistan by 76 runs

Defending champions India began their 2015 ODI World Cup campaign with a big win over Pakistan. The 2015 competition was co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

Kohli once again opened his World Cup campaign with a century, a 126-ball 107. Opener Shikhar Dhawan (73) and Suresh Raina (74) also starred as India posted 300/7 at the Adelaide Oval.

In response, barring Misbah-ul-Haq's 84-ball 76, the Pakistan batters failed to trouble the Indian bowlers. Mohammed Shami led the attack, picking up four wickets. Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma picked up two wickets each, while Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja accounted for a wicket each. Pakistan were bowled out for 224 in 47 overs.

India entered the semifinals with a clean slate, winning all their games. But their campaign came to a crashing halt as hosts Australia handed India a 95-run defeat in the semifinal.

Australia went on to defeat New Zealand in the final in Melbourne.

2019 World Cup: India beat South Africa by 6 wickets

Following their title triumph in 2011, the Indians have reached the semifinals at every World Cup since. In the 2019 ODI World Cup in England, Kohli-led India downed South Africa in their opening match of the tournament.

Yuzvendra Chahal's stellar display with the ball helped India restrict South Africa to 227 at the Rose Bowl in Southampton. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah picked up two wickets each, while Kuldeep accounted for one.

In response, Rohit Sharma scored a a 144-ball 122, the first of his record 5 hundreds at World Cup. Enroute to the semis, India lost only to hosts England.

In the semifinals, India once again failed to cross the hurdle as Kane Williamson-led New Zealand ended their campaign with a 18 run defeat. New Zealand went on to lose the final to eventual champions England in a memorable final.

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