हिन्दीಕನ್ನಡമലയാളംதமிழ்తెలుగు

West Indies assert early supremacy

Published: Monday, February 26, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
 
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The inaugural 1975 World Cup in England was virtually unrecognisable by modern standards, for it was not all about glamour and slam-bang batting now associated with one-day cricket.

The game was traditional as players had not discarded whites for coloured clothing and money was scarce. Fielding restrictions were non-existent, and wides and short-pitched balls were not so firmly enforced.

Legendary Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar gave a demonstration of Test-saving rather than one-day-winning batting when he stonewalled for 60 overs in scoring an unbeaten 36 against England at Lord's in the opening match.

Cricketers playing in English counties had an edge over their opponents, as inaugural champions West Indies were to prove.

The beginning was humble, with no global television coverage and six Test-playing nations in the fray with associate members Sri Lanka and East Africa. The top two from each four-team group advanced to the semi-finals.

Organisers fearing wet English weather had reasons to smile as none of the 15 matches was disrupted by the elements. With the sun shining, sizeable crowds turned up for most of the games.

The tournament lasted just a fortnight with 60-overs-a-side games. The matches were played on June 7, 11, 14, 18 and 21.

Four group games were held on each of the first three dates and then both the semi-finals on the same day, something unthinkable in the modern era of television and marketing.

England, Australia and New Zealand comfortably made it to the last-four, but the West Indies were involved in the first-ever nailbiting match of the World Cup, against Pakistan at Edgbaston.

The West Indies were 203-9 chasing a 267-run target before Andy Roberts and Deryck Murray batted with cool heads under pressure to help their team win by one wicket.

"We looked dead and buried in that game against Pakistan but after Deryck and Andy saved the day, we knew -- absolutely knew -- that we could win the World Cup itself," West Indies captain Clive Lloyd said.

The West Indies thrashed New Zealand by five wickets in the semi-final, but Australia had to rely on Gary Gilmour's all-round brilliance (6-14 and 28 not out) to tame England in the other.

Left-arm paceman Gilmour became the first bowler to grab six wickets in a one-dayer as England were shot out for 93 on a seaming Headingley track.

The small target appeared like a mountain for Australia, reeling at 39-6 against a sharp England pace attack. Gilmour then put on 55 for the unfinished seventh wicket with Doug Walters to steer his team to a four-wicket win.

The final was a classic and will be remembered as much for Lloyd's 102 off 85 balls as for Australia's fightback. Add to it Viv Richards's superb piece of fielding which led to three of the five run-outs.

The West Indies were 50-3 before posting a daunting 291-8 off 60 overs despite a five-wicket effort from Gilmour. Veteran Rohan Kanhai chipped in a valuable 55.

Australian captain Ian Chappell led from the front with a gutsy 62, but fast bowler Keith Boyce took four wickets to reduce Australia to 233-9.

The game was not over as the last-wicket pair of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson threatened to conjure up an unexpected win. The West Indies sweated as the Australians added 41.

The fightback ended when Thomson became the fifth run-out victim trying to steal a bye to wicket-keeper Murray, who hit the stumps with just eight balls remaining.

Australia lost by 17 runs in a fitting finale to the tournament, but they looked a different team in the next World Cup held again in England.

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