What happened to India when England last hosted a World Cup 20 years ago?

first_imgFactor this: When England last hosted the Cricket World Cup, Virat Kohli was 10 year-old. MS Dhoni had just entered the domestic arena and Jasprit Bumrah was only 5! In the summer of 1999, Mohammad Azharuddin was captain of a young Indian team which was attempting to create history after 16 years.In 1983, India had stunned the mighty West Indies to win their first World Cup. After heartbreak in 1987, 1992 and 1996, India had their hopes pinned on the dynamic young trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid. As it turned out, there was more heartbreak in store.Jasprit Bumrah was perhaps too young to even notice but a 10-year-old Virat Kohli and a 17-year-old MS Dhoni, who had already started his journey to stardom, must have started dreaming. Sure enough, 12 years later, MS Dhoni led India to World Cup glory at home with Virat Kohli in the side. But World Cup triumph away from home in England would seem sweeter.Mohammad Azharuddin and Robin Singh were the only players over 30 in that Indian World Cup squad of 1999. The others were much younger but they were experienced. Sachin Tendulkar, at 26, was an international cricketer for 10 years. A 28-year-old Anil Kumble had established his reputation as a dangerous leg-break bowler while Ganguly and Dravid had made impressive Test debuts in England 3 years ago.India may not have been outright favourites but they were still a force to reckon with. Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad, Ajit Agarkar and Debasis Mohanty formed a formidable pace attack. Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Azharuddin, Jadeja, Robin Singh and Nayan Mongia made up a strong batting line-up.advertisementBut India lost their first two group matches and the campaign was immediately in shambles. On May 15 in Brighton, Sourav Ganguly led the charge for India with a bright 97 while Rahul Dravid a total of 253 for 5. However, a fine 96 by Jacques Kallis meant South Africa won by 4 wickets.In their next encounter against Zimbabwe in India were the more fancied team even without Sachin Tendulkar who returned home briefly following the death of his father. On May 19 at Leicester, the Indian team was shocked as Zimbabwe won a thriller by 3 runs. Chasing 253, India fell just short after Henry Olonga and Heath Streak took 3 wickets apiece to set up a memorable victory for Zimbabwe.India needed a win desperately to get their campaign back on track. Tendulkar returned from India and smashed an unbeaten 140 while Rahul Dravid hit 104 not out against Kenya in Bristol on May 23. Kenya could respond with only 235 for 7 to India’s 329 for 2 and the Indians were back in business.3 days later, Sourav Ganguly hit 183, Rahul Dravid continued his rich run of form to score 145 while Robin Singh took 5 for 31 as India decimated defending champions Sri Lanka by 157 runs. Next up, India won a rain-hit match against hosts England. The game spanned over 2 days but Ganguly’s all-round brilliance (40 and 3 for 37) helped India to a 63-run win. Rahul Dravid scored an important 53 while Debashish Mohanty, Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble pocketed 2 wickets each.India reached the Super 6 stage after winning 3 games on the bounce after 2 successive defeats.Australia were world beaters in those days and they were India’s first hurdle in the Super 6 stage. Mark Waugh’s stylish 83 set India a challenging 283 against arguably the most balanced bowling attack of that time. Despite a feisty 100 not by Ajay Jadeja and a heroic 75 by Robin Singh, India hurtled to a huge 77-run defeat in London on June 4.India’s next challenge were arch-rivals Pakistan in Manchester on June 8. It was a low-scoring game and one where India kept their nerves while Pakistan failed. Half-centuries from skipper Mohammad Azharuddin and Rahul Dravid and 45 from Sachin Tendulkar helped India post 227 for 6. Venkatesh Prasad, who was involved in a fiery duel with Aamer Sohail in the 1996 World Cup, then grabbed 5 for 27 to blow Pakistan away for 180. It was a resounding win for India but they still had to deal with the dangerous New Zealand before the semifinals became a reality.Ajay Jadeja played a glorious innings in Nottingham on June 12. India were happy with their 251 for 6 and it was a desperate battle for survival. India were still in the game despite Matt Horne’s 76 and Roger Twose’s 60. It was set to be a tight finish with New Zealand needing 34 off 4.5 overs but a cameo by Adam Parore knocked India out. Azharuddin was captain during India’s heartbreaking semifinal exit at the Eden Gardens 3 years ago. He would have hoped for another shot at the title but that did not happen.The men who represented India in the 1999 World Cup: Azharuddin, Agarkar, Chopra, Dravid, Ganguly, Jadeja, Khurasiya, Kumble, Mohanty, Mongia, Prasad, S Ramesh. Robin Singh, Srinath, TendulkaradvertisementIndia’s journey at Cricket World Cups ever since:In 2003, Sourav Ganguly led India to the World Cup final where they lost to AustraliaIn 2007, India were knocked out of the league stages after losing 2 out of their 3 league matchesIn 2011, MS Dhoni led India to World Cup triumph at home with an iconic knock at the Wankhede StadiumIn 2015, Dhoni’s pacers were on fire as India reached the semifinals only to lose to AustraliaAlso Read | World Cup 2019: Recapping some of the greatest upsets in World Cup historyAlso Read | MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma in high spirits ahead of World Cup 2019last_img

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