The cricketers that made history and memories that linger from each team
There are some moments in Cricket World Cup history that stay with you long after the trophy is lifted. It could be a brilliant spell of bowling, a batsman breaking a record or even a team achieving a memorable triumph.
The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 provided many moments that were both heart-warming and heart-stopping. Not all of them featured in a winning cause, but the efforts were most definitely applause-worthy.
Here's a list of the 14 magic moments – one from each team – that made the tournament truly special:
India: Sixth straight win against Pakistan in Cricket World Cup
After losing to Australia in the Test series and failing to reach the final of the tri-series involving Australia and England, India wasn't expected to hit the high notes in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Doubts were raised as to whether it would be able to maintain its spotless record against Pakistan in Cricket World Cups. But all this suited India just fine. In front of a boisterous crowd at the Adelaide Oval, Virat Kohli smacked 107 – becoming the first centurion in an India v Pakistan contest at a Cricket World Cup – helping India reach a formidable 300 for 7, with contributions from Suresh Raina (74) and Shikhar Dhawan (73). India’s bowlers then struck at regular intervals, never letting Pakistan make a fist of the chase. Mohammed Shami starred with 4 for 35 as India bowled out Pakistan for 224 to make it 6-0 in the head-to-head battle between the two sides.
Ireland: Begins tournament in style with four-wicket win v the West Indies
For quite some time, Ireland has been punching above its weight, but the manner in which it chased down 305 against the West Indies, it was clear that it meant business. The West Indies was teetering at 93 for 5 at the halfway mark, but recovered to post 304. But chasing a tall score didn't spook Ireland one bit. William Porterfield and Paul Stirling got the side off to a brisk start, using the pace of the West Indies bowlers to its advantage. Stirling shone the brightest and though he fell eight short of a hundred, the damage had been done. When Ed Joyce (84) and Niall O’Brien (79 not out) took over, the third-wicket stand of 96 came off only 11.3 overs. Niall then steered Ireland across the line with 25 balls to spare, making a strong opening statement to the rest of the teams.
England: Ali's hundred, record England opening partnership with Bell v Scotland
After two losses on the trot, England was itching to open its account in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, and against Scotland in Christchurch, Moeen Ali's 107-ball 128 helped the side seal a 119-run victory. Ali took control in a 172-run opening partnership with Ian Bell, a Cricket World Cup record for England, overtaking the 158 forged by Dennis Amiss and Barry Wood against East Africa at Edgbaston in the first Cricket World Cup in 1975. Ali called the shots early on, hitting 14 runs in the fourth over and reaching his half-century in the 13th over. He then reached his century off 90 balls, providing a fantastic platform for the remaining batsmen to capitalise on. Ali the batsman had done his job, but that he also managed to pick up two wickets during Scotland's chase was the icing on the cake.
The West Indies: Gayle's double-hundred v Zimbabwe
Questions regarding Chris Gayle’s future were raised after the West Indies' loss to Ireland, but he silenced the critics with a swashbuckling 215 off just 147 balls against Zimbabwe. After the loss of Dwayne Smith early on, Gayle and Marlon Samuels began to rebuild. With the West Indies at 165 for no loss after 35 overs, Gayle brought up his first ODI hundred in nearly two years. But that was just the calm before the Gaylestorm. All hell broke loose once the batting powerplay was taken; Gayle carted Zimbabwe’s bowlers all over the park to score his next 100 runs off just 33 deliveries. In the process, several records were achieved, with Gayle hitting the highest Cricket World Cup score then, the first ODI double-hundred by a non-India player, the joint highest number of sixes by a player in an innings (16) and being involved in the highest ODI partnership (372).
UAE: Anwar wins hearts with century v Ireland
United Arab Emirates' Shaiman Anwar was in excellent form during ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 with three 50-plus scores, but his best – a 79-ball century – came against Ireland in Brisbane. At 131 for 6 in the 35th over, UAE looked like it would be bundled out for a low total, but Anwar had other plans. After scoring a quiet 28, Anwar switched gears effortlessly in the batting powerplay that followed. Smashing ten fours and one six, he carved 106 off just 83 balls, his second ODI hundred, to lift UAE to 278. In the process, Anwar was involved in a Cricket World Cup-record seventh-wicket partnership with Amjad Javed, 107 in 11.5 overs. Ireland won by two wickets, but Anwar's fearless batting would have endeared him to many fans.
Afghanistan: First Cricket World Cup win
In one of the most dramatic games of ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, Afghanistan pulled off a historic one-wicket win against Scotland, much to the joy of the Afghanistan fans watching in the stadium and back home. After restricting Scotland to 210 in Dunedin, Afghanistan looked well on its way to a win at 85 for 2, but Javed Ahmadi's dismissal for 51 triggered a collapse, leaving the team reeling at 97 for 7. Still, Afghanistan refused to throw in the towel, Samiullah Shenwari showing nerves of steel with a patient 96 to keep the side in the hunt. There was another twist in the tale when he fell with 19 runs still needed, but Shapoor Zadran kept his composure, finishing off with a four to seal Afghanistan’s first Cricket World Cup win.
Scotland: Coetzer posts highest-ever score by Associate player in Cricket World Cup
Although Scotland lost to Bangladesh, there was a silver lining: Kyle Coetzer's 156, the highest-ever score by an Associate player in Cricket World Cup history. Coetzer's performance wasn't too surprising considering that he was the leading run-getter with 333 runs in six games during the ICC Cricket World Cup Associate Warm-up Matches held in September-October 2014 and his knock of 71 against England in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Coetzer reached the landmark against Bangladesh, becoming Scotland's first Cricket World Cup centurion, helping the side post 318 for 8. Bangladesh overhauled the target, but Coetzer made an indelible mark on the tournament.
Bangladesh: First time qualifying for Cricket World Cup quarter-final
Bangladesh fans are a loyal lot. Even a loss early on in the tournament to Sri Lanka did little to dampen their enthusiasm. And Mashrafe Mortaza's men repaid the faith with a sensational 15-run win against England, qualifying for the quarter-final of a Cricket World Cup for the first time. It was a collective effort that knocked England out of the tournament. It started with Mahmudullah hitting a brilliant 103 and Mushfiqur Rahim chipping in with 89, and ended with Rubel Hossain grabbing 4 for 53 and 19-year-old Taskin Ahmed taking two wickets, including that of the dangerous Jos Buttler for 65. Captain Mashrafe Mortaza even put his body on the line, completing his quota of ten overs despite a calf injury. The most heartening aspect of the win was that Bangladesh's pace bowlers accounted for eight of the England wickets, proving to the world that spin wasn't its only strength.
Sri Lanka: Sangakkara hits record four consecutive hundreds
When Kumar Sangakkara announced that he would retire from ODIs after ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, the biggest sigh of relief would have come from the opposition bowlers. Sangakkara, who finished the tournament as the second-highest run-scorer with 541 runs from seven games, created history when he became the first and only batsman to score four consecutive hundreds in ODIs. 105 not out against Bangladesh was followed by 117 not out against England. He continued in the same vein against Australia with 104. And then just when most everyone thought the law of averages would have caught up with him, he hit 124 against Scotland at Bellerive Oval as Sri Lanka won by a handsome 148-run margin. At 37, Sangakkara was like fine wine, simply getting better with age.
Zimbabwe: Taylor's hundred in last game for Zimbabwe
The match against India was Brendan Taylor's swansong for his country, and he made sure he went out with a bang. Zimbabwe's score read 33 for 3 after 10 overs, but if Taylor felt the pressure when he made his way to the crease, he hid it remarkably well. Forging a 93-run stand with Sean Williams and a 109-run stand with Craig Ervine, Taylor deftly dealt with Indian bowlers, who had otherwise troubled every batting line-up during its previous games. He reached his century with a six over third man to become the first Zimbabwe batsman to score consecutive hundreds in a Cricket World Cup. He also dispatched R Ashwin for 25 runs in the 41st over before finally departing for 138 off 110 deliveries. The knock went in vain as India managed a six-wicket win, but Taylor – who finished ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 as the fourth-highest run getter with 433 runs in six games – could walk off with his head held high.
South Africa: First win in Cricket World Cup knockout game
The question on everyone's lips ahead of the South Africa v Sri Lanka quarter-final was whether AB de Villiers's men could handle the pressure of a Cricket World Cup knockout game, having stumbled in previous editions of the tournament at that stage. The answer, it turned out, was an emphatic yes. After being asked to field, South Africa reduced Sri Lanka to 69 for 3 and marched forward in ruthless fashion. JP Duminy’s hat-trick in the 35th over further hurt Sri Lanka and the side eventually was bowled out for 133. While Hashim Amla held up one end, Quinton de Kock blazed away at the other with a 57-ball 78. The chase appeared to be a stroll in the park for South Africa who overhauled the target in 18 overs to storm into the semi-final.
Pakistan: Riaz's spell v Australia in Quarter-final
After setting Australia a target of 214 in the quarter-final, Pakistan needed an inspired performance from its bowlers to defeat Michael Clarke's men on home turf. And Wahab Riaz was more than happy to oblige. He followed up the wicket of David Warner (24) with a well-directed bouncer to have Michael Clarke caught at forward short leg for 8. In walked a nervous Shane Watson. The next four overs was pace bowling at its hostile best. Riaz was all over Watson, banging in short ball after short ball, before he got him to make a wild heave towards deep fine leg. The catch was muffed by Rahat Ali and the moment passed, but Riaz's menacing spell left the cricket community oohing and aahing in wonderment.
New Zealand: First time in Cricket World Cup final after seven attempts
Six semi-finals, six losses. New Zealand had never progressed further in a Cricket World Cup. However, Grant Elliott (84 not out off 73 balls) was no history buff; that much was clear from what transpired on that fateful day in the semi-final at Eden Park. With five needed off two balls – technically a four would suffice as New Zealand finished higher in the group stage in comparison to South Africa – against Dale Steyn, Elliot sent the ball soaring into the crowd for a six to seal an extraordinary four-wicket win in a rain-interrupted game. But just as one nation erupted in joy, AB de Villiers's men sank to their knees and tears flowed freely. Yet the man of the moment – who, ironically enough, was born in Johannesburg – had the equanimity to reach out to Steyn, a gesture that both warmed hearts and proved cricket was still a gentleman's game.
Australia: Winning fifth Cricket World Cup title
If winning a Cricket World Cup was an art, it's safe to say Australia has perfected it, securing its fifth title with a seven-wicket victory against New Zealand. The Melbourne Cricket Ground let out a deafening roar when Mitchell Starc dismissed Brendon McCullum for a duck, and there was no looking back after that as Australia bowled New Zealand out for 183. Michael Clarke, who had announced ahead of the final that he would be hanging up his boots in the One-Day Internationals after the tournament, bowed out with a 72-ball 74 before Steve Smith applied the finishing touches to secure the country's first Cricket World Cup on home soil. What made the win all the more special was that it was dedicated to Phillip Hughes, who passed away in November. It was indeed the glimmer of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel for Clarke and his troops.