Bengaluru, May 14: By the 1996 World Cup, the West Indies were certainly a pale shadow of their glorious past. In the group stage of the 1996 edition held in the sub-continent, Richie Richardson's men were even beaten by newcomers Kenya and they scraped through to the quarterfinals as the fourth team from the group.
But in the quarterfinals, a magical knock from Brian Lara saw the Caribbeans stun favourites South Africa in Karachi. The feeble Windies suddenly looked strong enough to get closer to their high feats of the 1970s in the quadrennial event.
The Caribbeans were up against Australia in the semifinals, They were entering the last-four for the first time since 1983. And given the fact that they had beaten Australia in the group stage, the Men in Maroon were confident of repeating the show once more.
Mark Taylor won the toss and elected to bat and the West Indian bowlers continued with their good performance. Curtly Ambrose and Ian Bishop ran through the Australian top order as they were left reeling at 15 for four with both the Waughs, Ricky Ponting and skipper Taylor back into the hut.
It was then when Stuart Law (72) and the ever-reliable Michael Bevan (69) counter attacked and added 138 for the fifth wicket before Law fell. Wicket-keeper Ian Healy scored 31 and Australia ended up with 207 for eight in 50 overs. There were as many as three run-outs in the Australian innings.
The target was never a big one unless the West Indians made it look so. The Caribbeans lost keeper-opener Courtney Browne early, but a 68-run partnership between the other opener, Shivnarine Chanderpaul (80) and Brian Lara (45) and then a 72-run partnership between Chanderpaul and skipper Richardson (49 not out) gave an impression that the West Indies were on way to their fourth World Cup final.
Chanderpaul fell when the score was 165 and it just required a cool head for the Caribbeans to knock off the remaining 43 runs. But that cool head was largely missing on the day as the West Indians literally snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Richardson helplessly witnessed the batsmen at the other end committing hara-kiri as the West Indies slumped to 202 all out, losing the last seven wickets for a mere 37 runs! Shane Warne destroyed the West Indian lower order to end up with figures of four for 36.
The West Indies lost by five runs and since that defeat, they have never again made the semifinal of a 50-over World Cup again. Incidentally, it was the last One-day International for Richardson as well.
Warne was the man of the match.