Bengaluru, May 27: The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 will kick off on May 30 with a game between England and South Africa. Fans look up to the mega event for absorbing games and thrilling encounters as such encounters on the highest stage become immortal.
The 45-year-old history of the WC has seen many such games that qualify as the best ever and here we pick five of the best clashes.
Arguably the best match ever in a World Cup. In a perfect clash of the titans, Hansie Cronje won the toss and sent Australia to bat. They were off to a bad start, losing 4 for 68 with the Proteas pacers breathing fire.
A 90-run partnership between captain Steve Waugh (56) and Michael Bevan (65) for the fifth wicket and a 49-run partnership between Bevan and Shane Warne (18) ensured that the Kangaroos crossed 200. They were all out for 213 with Shaun Pollock taking 5 for 36 and Allan Donald 4 for 32.
SA were off to a decent start with 48 runs for the opening wicket but then Warne ran through their top order with 4 for 29 and SA were 61 for 4.
Jacques Kallis (53) and Jonty Rhodes (43) then added 84 runs when Rhodes fell. Lance Klusener was on his way to bring a win for SA with 31 not out from 16 balls. SA required nine runs in the final over with a wicket in hand. Klusener hit two fours but then a silly response from Donald saw them failing to pick the winning run and a tie saw Australia going through since they had a higher ranking in the Super Six stage.
New Zealand were winning all their games and the game against their regional rivals Australia in the group became a top draw. Michael Clarke won the toss and elected to bat and from 80 for 1 at one stage, the Kangaroos collapsed to 97 for 6 in the 18th over, thanks to some spirited bowling. They were left reeling at 106 for 9, losing eight wickets for 26 runs and it was the 45-run partnership between wicket-keeper Brad Haddin (43) and Pat Cummins (seven not out) that saw the Aussies crossing 150. Trent Boult took 5 for 27.
New Zealand were off to a good start and were placed at 78 for 1 when they took were struck by disaster. It was 79 for 4 and after Corey Anderson (26) added 52 runs with Kane Williamson (45 not out), NZ lost five quick wickets to get reduced to 146 for 9 before Williamson took them past the post. Mitchell Starc responded with 6 for 28. Boult was the man of the match.
India won the toss and elected to bat and powered by a century from opener Sachin Tendulkar (120 off 115 balls), Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men posted 338 in 50 overs, losing all their wickets. Tim Bresnan took 5 for 48. Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh also scored half-centuries.
England were always in the hunt for the steep target and a 170-run partnership for the third wicket between captain Andrew Strauss (158 off 145) and Ian Bell (69 off 71) took the Three Lions to a really strong position at 281 for 2. The departure of Bell and Strauss in two successive deliveries off Zaheer Khan brought India back into the game and despite the English tail wagging seriously, they also ended up at 338 for the loss of 8 wickets to tie the game. Zaheer picked three and Strauss was the man of the match.
It's not too many times that England had started as favourites against South Africa in a World Cup game. In this group match, Andrew Strauss won the toss and elected to bat but were reduced to 15 for 3. Jonathan Trott (52) and Ravi Bopara (60) then repaired the innings by adding 99 runs but no other batsmen could build on that as England lost their remaining six wickets for just 57 runs.
Spinners Imran Tahir and Robin Peterson took seven wickets between them. The target of 172 was considered to be an easy one for a powerful SA batting line-up and they were well on course at 124 for 3. But they lost three wickets on the same score with James Anderson picking two and the game turned a thrilling one.
Dale Steyn scored 20 to take SA closer to the target but they were eventually bowled out for 165 to lose by six runs. Pacers Stuart Broad (4 for 15) and Anderson (2 for 16) took six wickets for just 31 runs. Bopara was the man of the match.
Perhaps the best game of an otherwise dull World Cup. Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and elected to bat but South African pacers led by Charl Langeveldt took 5 for 39 reduced them to 98 or 5 with both the two big ones - Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara back into the hut.
It was then two half-centuries from Tillakaratne Dilshan (58) and Russel Arnold (50) that resurrected the innings with a 97-run partnership. Sri Lanka were all out for 209 runs in less than 50 overs.
The Proteas were 2 for 160, requiring only 50 runs but the Lankan bowlers, particularly Lasith Malinga, decided to do something special. The pacer took a split hat-trick, removing South Africa's top scorer Jacques Kallis (86) and took four wickets in four balls to leave SA at 207 for 9.
The final partnership somehow pulled SA through but the match and Malinga's efforts remain one of the WC's top stories. Malinga finished with 4 for 54 and was chosen man of the match along with Langeveldt.