Bengaluru, May 28: The Cricket World Cup is about winners. Statisticians mostly remember teams and players who have come out with flying colours while those finishing second best are not always remembered with the same zeal. But that doesn't reduce the significance of performances in the World Cup that were remarkable but could not eventually see a win.
From Martin Crowe's 91 in the semi-final of the 1992 Word Cup to Sachin Tendulkar's 111 in the 2011 edition, there are many such instances.
Here we pick some of those tragic instances where people played out of their skin on the highest stage but yet failed to produce the desired results.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and chose to bat first. India were off to an ideal start with Tendulkar (111) adding 142 runs with Virender Sehwag (73). After Sehwag departed, Tendulkar added another 125 runs with Gautam Gambhir (69) and at 267 for 1, India were clearly looking the favourites. But once Tendulkar departed for 111 in 101 balls, disaster struck India and they lost their remaining eight wickets for 29 runs, failing to touch even 300. The Proteas chased down 297 with the loss of 7 wickets in the final over and Dale Steyn was picked the man of the match for his 5 for 50. Tendulkar's innings remained a colossal waste.
The former Sri Lanka captain chose the highest platform to score a hundred when he hit an unbeaten 103 off 88 balls against India at the Wankhede Stadium in the final of the 2011 WC. Sri Lanka reached 274 for 6, a score that could put any batting line-up under pressure in such a high-profile game. But opener Gautam Gambhir's 97 and Dhoni's 91 not out ensured that India did not fall short. Jayawardene's ton in the final remains the only one that ended up in the losing side.
Allan Border won the toss and elected to bat in a game which was always threatened by the tournament's bizarre rain rule. The hosts reached 237 for 9 in 50 overs and after a rain intervention, India's target was revised to 236 in 47 overs. Ravi Shastri's 67-ball 25 made the task difficult for India when skipper Mohammad Azharuddin stepped in and up. He came up with 93 in 102 balls before getting run-out by his counterpart at a crucial juncture, leaving the Indian chase in a disarray. India eventually got all out for 234 to lose by one run. Dean Jones was picked the man of the match for his 90.
Stephen Fleming won the toss and sent Sri Lanka to bat and their captain Sanath Jayasuriya came up with a magnificent 120 to take Sri Lanka to 272 for 7 in 50 overs. The Black Caps had a terrible start to their chase by losing 3 for 15. They lost half their side for 94 but Scott Styris, who came in at No.4, continued with the fight. He scored 141 in 125 balls and was the last man to get out for New Zealand. The Kiwis managed 225 to lose by 47 runs with Styris scoring over 62 per cent of the runs. Jayasuriya was the man of the match.
For most fans, this game was a complete mismatch. Zimbabwe captain Alistair Campbell won the toss and asked Australia to bat first. Mark Waugh scored 104 and captain Steve Waugh hit 62 to help Australia post a total of 303 for 4 in 50 overs. Not many had given the Africans much of a chance against a tough Australian bowling attack. However, all-rounder Neil Johnson had other things in plan. He opened the innings and played one of the best knocks in the history of the World Cup. Having batted the full 50 overs after bowing eight overs, the left-hander remained not out on 132 off 144 balls while the entire team could manage 259 for 6 to lose by 44 runs. Johnson was adjudged the man of the match for his all-round show.