Johannesburg: After their 1975 and 1979 triumphs, West Indies was widely predicted to make it a hat-trick of World Cups wins when the tournament was once more played in England in 1983.
But this was to be a World Cup of shock results, none greater than Zimbabwe's win over Australia in the Africans' first World Cup match. Zimbabwe was not yet a Test nation and had qualified for the tournament as the winner of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Trophy tournament for minor nations. At Trent Bridge its made 239 for six against Australia, captain and current England coach Duncan Fletcher 69 not out.
Australia was cruising at 61 without loss before Fletcher, in a brilliant all-round display took the first of his four wickets. He was backed up by some excellent fielding and when the 60 overs were up, Australia finished on 226 for seven to give Zimbabwe victory by 13 runs. It was threatening to cause another upset, at Tunbridge Wells when India collapsed to 17 for five. But Zimbabwe's hopes of a second scalp were wrecked by Kapil Dev's extraordinary captain's innings of 175 not out, which guided his side to 266 for eight. Zimbabwe chased hard but Kapil Dev crowned a memorable day by taking the last wicket to give India victory by 31 runs.
Crucially, India now believed that anything was possible. It worked its way steadily through to the final where it faced the West Indies. Both sides had beaten one another in the group stages, but Clive Lloyd's men went into the match as 4-1 on favourites. That status appeared justified as West Indies' pace bowlers dismissed India for a meagre 183. That was no sort of total to defend and with Viv Richards getting into his stride Indian prospects looked grim. But Kapil Dev then took a brilliant running catch to dismiss Richards for 33 off the innocuous medium-pace of Madan Lal.
He, the equally gentle Roger Binny and Mohinder Amarnath then strangled the life out of the West Indian innings. Lloyd, who had promoted himself in the order ahead of the reliable Larry Gomes, pulled a muscle and had to send for a runner. When he went for eight, caught at extra cover off Binny, West Indies was 75 for five and Faoud Bacchus' exit made it 76 for six. Not even the West Indies could recover from that position and when last man Michael Holding was lbw to Amarnath for six, India had won by 43 runs. David had slain Goliath and how.
Partly in recognition of India's victory and also because of the growing commercial and cricketing strength of the region as a whole, it co-hosted the 1987 World Cup with Pakistan. Prize money increased by 50 per cent while matches were reduced to 50 overs per side because of the shorter daylight hours on the sub-continent in October and November. Everything was set up for an India versus Pakistan final, which would have delighted the millions of passionate cricket followers in the region, not to mention the sponsors. But both teams went out in the semis, India literally swept away by Graham Gooch, who used the stroke to good effect in his match-winning innings of 115. Meanwhile unfancied Australia stunned Pakistan in Lahore, fast bowler Craig McDermott taking five for 44.
In the final England looked on course to overhaul Australia's 253 when skipper Mike Gatting, on 41, attempted a reverse sweep against the first ball delivered by opposing captain and part-time left-arm spinner Allan Border, got an edge and was caught behind. England never quite recovered and by the time the last ball was delivered it still needed 10 to win. Australia won the match by seven runs and became the third nation to be acclaimed world champions.