Chennai, March 20: The air in the subcontinent is tense with anticipation as two top teams in World Cup 2011's Group B prepare to round off the league stages with a scintillating contest - India and the West Indies. The team from the Caribbean must be smarting from its defeat to England on Thursday and will be yearning to get back to its winning ways, while India will be eager to shirk off the humiliation of its 3-wicket loss to South Africa last week with a resounding victory to render it the impetus in approaching the knock-out stages of the Cup.
But what do the history books say about these two sides in World Cups? The West Indies have a win percentage of 62.5 per cent in the global event, winning 38 of their 62 encounters, while India's victory rate is lower at around 53%, with 35 wins and 26 losses. These two teams are no strangers to each other on cricket's greatest stages, having met 6 times in World Cups.
Against each other in World Cups, both sides bear a 50-50 win-loss ratio, having won thrice and lost thrice. The first time the Windies and their colonial cousins crossed paths in the global event was in 1979. During that vintage encounter, the Caribbeaners gave India an absolute hiding, winning by 9 wickets with 51 balls to spare as pace spearhead Michael Holding took 4/33 (India being shot out for 190 in 53 overs) and Gordon Greenidge making a 106.
Then oddly enough in the 1983 World Cup, the Windies and India faced off a total of three times, India coming out victorious on two occasions. India won the first of those three matches by 34 runs (with Yashpal Sharma top-scoring with 89 and Roger Binny taking 3/48), lost the second by 66 runs (with Viv Richards notching up the highest run-tally off 119 and Binny taking 3/71) and won the historic third by 43 runs, which happened to be the final.
In that historic match, Kris Srikkanth top-scored for his side with 38 as India went on to post 183 with Windies ace paceman Andy Roberts taking 3/32. Then India bowled out the Windies for 140 with Viv Richard's 33 the top score for his side while Mohinder Amarnath and Madan Lal took 3 wickets each.
India next crossed paths with the Windies in the 1992 World Cup at Wellington, when the latter won by 5 wickets with 34 balls remaining (in a rain-reduced match and with a revised score). In that encounter, Mohammad Azharuddin top-scored for India with 61 while the side was bowled out for 197 and Keith Arthurton was the main run-getter for the Windies with 58, as they chased down the revised 195. West Indies pacer Anderson Cummins was the pick of the bowlers, taking 4/34.
India's last encounter against the Windies unfolded in the 1996 edition of the big tournament, played at Gwalior, where the hosts avenged their last WC defeat with a thumping 5-wicket win. The Windies were bowled out for a paltry 173 with Richie Richardson's 47 off 70 a lone indication of some resistance and with Anil Kumble and Manoj Prabhakar sharing in the carnage with 3 wickets each. Then India, led by Sachin Tendulkar's 71 of 90 balls (the man was incidentally aided by a dropped-catch early in his innings), romped home in 39.4 overs.
Considering, it has been 15 whole years since these two sides have faced off in a World Cup, one wonders if history will play its part at all or if both teams will be starting with a clean slate. The only constant from 1996 is Sachin Tendulkar's presence in the Indian sqaud AND his devastating form which many will be hoping will spur him on to his record 100th international century. Will the Windies be able to stop him now?