Bengaluru, April 25: Australia were yet to win their first World Cup title and reached the subcontinent for the fourth edition in 1987 as an “unfancied side”, something none other than their captain Allan Border had said.
India were favourites to win their second consecutive title after their historic 1983 win and also since the WC was being held on their soil four years later. Pakistan also looked up to as a strong team capable of pulling it through in their den. There were also the West Indies, who had made all the three previous finals, winning two of them.
However, as the tournament progressed, the script didn’t fold as per expectations. Australia, who started off with a one-run win over the defending champions in the first game, put Kapil Dev’s side under a serious challenge in the race for the group toppers’ position.
India had to play out of their skin in the last group encounter against New Zealand to finish ahead of the Aussies to avoid playing Pakistan in Pakistan in the semi-finals. Both India and Australia made it to the semi-finals as the top two teams from Group A with same points but India bagging the top spot with a better run-rate.
Australia lifted their first WC trophy in 1987; West Indies failed to make semis for first time
In the other group, Pakistan dominated while England made it despite the absence of top players like Ian Botham and David Gower. The biggest disappointment were the Caribbeans who could win only three matches, two of which came against a lowly Sri Lanka.
Their pace battery looked to have run out of charge while the batting was no more in the shape it once was. Viv Richards was the fourth highest run-getter with 391 runs in six matches but of those, 181 had come in just one innings against Sri Lanka.
The Windies failed to make the semi-finals for the first time in four World Cups. Australia went on to win the trophy beating Pakistan and England in the semi-final and final. They followed it up with four more title wins in the next 28 years, there was a clear shift in the power centres in the world of cricket.
Australia were the new champions on the horizon while the sun set on the Caribbean empire.