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1996 - Best Games
By Partab Ramchand
India vs Australia at Mumbai: The most hyped up group match in the 1996 World Cup was this one largely because it involved two outstanding personalities. Days before the match commenced, it was billed as `Tendulkar vs Warne’ and it was obvious that the performances of the two players would have an immense bearing on the outcome of the match.

Coming into the game, India, with victories over Kenya and West Indies, were riding high being virtually assured of a spot in the quarterfinals. But Australia, because of their default to Sri Lanka (they did not travel to Colombo citing security fears), had to beat India to book a berth in the quarterfinals.

They had of course routed Kenya by 97 runs but then India was a very different proposition. Batting first at a packed Wankhede Stadium, Australia were given a great start with openers Mark Waugh (126) and Mark Taylor (59) putting on 103 runs. It was Waugh’s second successive century, compiled off just 135 balls with eight fours and three sixes.

There was not much substance in the batting thereafter. After the opening pair, only Stuart Law (21) topped the twenty-mark while Australia suffered a collapse going from 232 for three to 258 all out in 50 overs five run outs hastening the sliding process. Read moreread more

 
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India were reckoned to be in with a chance but Damien Fleming rocked the hosts, dismissing Ajay Jadeja and Vinod Kambli in the space of three balls. Fleming then dismissed Azharuddin but not before the Indian captain had helped Tendulkar add 63 runs for the third wicket.

The partnership that really brought India back in the fight was the fourth wicket association of 73 runs between Tendulkar and Sanjay Manjrekar. Tendulkar was dominating the scoring batting like a true champion even as he treated Warne with due respect. But Mark Waugh made the decisive breakthrough having Tendulkar stumped by Ian Healy for 90. Tendulkar played just 84 balls hitting 14 fours and a six.

More Best Games: 1983

Manjrekar kept up the fight and in the company of Nayan Mongia (27) raised 54 runs for the sixth wicket. But he finally fell for 62 and the tail did not offer much resistance.

Fleming, coming back for a second spell, took two more wickets delivering the coup de grace by bowling Anil Kumble and finishing with five for 36 as India were all out for 242 in 48 overs. Warne did not do too badly, finishing with one for 28 off ten overs.

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Australia vs West Indies (semifinal) at Mohali: This match is often cited as the one that symbolises the mercurial mood of the West Indies for they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

In the group match, West Indies had prevailed by four wickets, even if Australia finished second in the final points table and West Indies fourth. Then in the quarterfinals, while Australia had coasted to a six-wicket victory over New Zealand, West Indies surprised an in-form South Africa side by 19 runs.

Everything then pointed out to a needle finish when the two teams met again for a place in the final. Opting to bat, Australia were reduced to 15 for four with Bishop and Ambrose taking two wickets each. Stuart Law (72) and Michael Bevan (69) turned things around with a doughty fifth wicket partnership of 138 runs.

While Law faced 105 balls and hit five fours, the left handed Bevan played 110 balls and had four hits to the fence and one over it. Wicket keeper Ian Healy chipped in with a useful 31 towards the end but West Indies had done well in restricting Australia to 207 for eight in 50 overs.

With their top order firing away, West Indies were off to a flying start. Shivnarine Chanderpaul (80) and Brian Lara (45) added 68 runs for the second wicket and then Chanderpaul and skipper Richie Richardson maintained the tempo adding 72 runs for the third wicket. West Indies seemed to have sewn up a spot in the final for with ten overs to go they needed 43 with eight wickets in hand.

This should be a breeze for any team – except perhaps the West Indies. Chanderpaul left at 165 and what followed was inexplicable. Shane Warne got among the wickets (he finished with four for 36), the batting collapsed in a heap and Richardson was left high and dry on 49 as West Indies were bowled out for 202 with three balls still left.

Australian captain Mark Taylor called it the greatest escape ever. Indeed, the Australians dug themselves out of hole in completing a most dramatic victory.

 
 
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