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The best Associate moment from every World Cup so far

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Associate_nations_Cricket_ODI_World_CupThanks to the International Cricket Council’s deplorable decision to reduce the number of the teams at the World Cup, the 12th edition of the quadrennial tourney, which began in England on May 30, consists of only ten teams – the least number of teams since the 1992 edition. Moreover, it is the first World Cup without a single Associate team competing in it, which speaks volumes about how damaging the decision has been for the emerging cricketing nations.

While the absence of Associate nations from this year’s World Cup is hugely disappointing, there is no denying that they have provided some of the most indelible moments in the history of the tournament. On that note, here is a throwback to the most memorable performance by a non-Test nation from each of the eleven editions of the World Cup thus far, in chronological order.

1975 – Sri Lanka display grit in defeat

Facing an Australian total of 328/5 in a group match at The Oval, Sri Lanka’s batsmen showed great resolve against an attack including Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson. Sunil Wettimuny (53) and Duleep Mendis (32) pulled and hooked with aplomb, before rising balls from Thomson caused both to retire hurt. Undeterred by the setbacks, captain Anura Tennekoon (48) and Michael Tissera (52) kept the show going, carrying the total to 276/4 from the allotted 60 overs.

1979 – A huge step forward for Sri Lanka

Having cemented their position as the top Associate, Sri Lanka packed more than a punch in the second World Cup, as they beat India by 47 runs in their last group fixture at Old Trafford. Wettimuny (67), Roy Dias (50) and Mendis (64 in just 57 balls) boosted Sri Lanka to 238/5, to which India replied with only 191, due to a game-changing middle-overs spell from 37-year-old leg-spinner Somachandra de Silva (3/29). Sri Lanka were deservedly granted Test status in 1981.

1983 – Zimbabwe announce their arrival in style

Playing their first ever ODI, Zimbabwe rode on a brilliant all-round performance from their captain Duncan Fletcher to notch a memorable victory against Australia at Trent Bridge. Fletcher rescued Zimbabwe from 94/5 by hitting an unbeaten 69 in 84 balls, which propelled the total to a fighting 239/6. Later, he broke an opening stand of 61 with his pace bowling, before going on to register figures of 4/42. Australia’s batsmen failed to accelerate, and the innings ended at 226/7.

1987 – Houghton nearly pulls it off for Zimbabwe

Four years later, the World Cup saw another spirited Zimbabwean display, albeit in a losing cause. After having limited New Zealand to 242/7 in their first match at Hyderabad, Zimbabwe were 104/7 when Iain Butchart joined Dave Houghton. The pair added 117 – still a World Cup record for the eighth wicket – until Houghton fell for a fine 142 off 137 balls. With four needed from three balls, Butchart was run out, leaving Zimbabwe heartbreakingly short of a famous win.

1992 – England run into a chicken farmer

Zimbabwe’s final game, against England at Albury, presented them with one last chance to clinch a win in the tournament. Success seemed unlikely when they were bowled out for 134, but pace bowler Eddo Brandes, a chicken farmer by profession, ignited hope by removing captain Graham Gooch off the first ball. A buoyed Brandes went on to capture 4/21, reducing England to 43/5. Despite some lower-order defiance, Zimbabwe held on for a nine-run win in the final over.

1996 – Kenya’s big leap on Leap Year Day

Leap Year Day – 29th February – in 1996 saw one of the biggest shocks in the game’s history, as unheralded Kenya, playing only their fifth ODI, toppled two-time champions West Indies at Pune. Defending a modest 166, the Kenyans, led by Maurice Odumbe (3/15), were destined for something special when the West Indies fell to 35/4. The moment of glory arrived in the 36th over, when seamer Rajab Ali (3/17) castled Cameron Cuffy to complete a 73-run win for Kenya.

1999 – A defining moment for the Tigers

This last-round group game of the 1999 World Cup at Northampton was expected to be a mismatch, what with an unbeaten Pakistan taking on greenhorns Bangladesh. However, a solid effort steered the Tigers to a competitive 223/9, after which medium pacer Khaled Mahmud (3/31) did the star turn by accounting for Shahid Afridi, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Saleem Malik in his opening spell. Pakistan could not recover from a dire 42/5, and limped to 161 in the 45th over.

2003 – Obuya inspires Kenya to victory

Nairobi was allotted two matches involving Kenya at the 2003 World Cup, the first of which was forfeited by New Zealand on security grounds. The second featured the Sri Lankans, who restricted Kenya to 210/9 after electing to field. Kennedy Otieno struck 60, but the day belonged to his younger brother Collins Obuya, who snared 5/24 with his leg-spin to condemn the islanders to a 53-run loss. This win was instrumental in Kenya’s historic entry into the semifinal.

2007 – A St. Patrick’s Day for the ages

Ireland made it past the group stage at their maiden World Cup by stunning Pakistan at Kingston on St. Patrick’s Day. The passionate Irish fans had a lot to cheer about as Pakistan were skittled for 132. Boyd Rankin took 3/32, while Andre Botha returned figures of 8-4-5-2. A tricky rain-revised chase of 128 from 47 overs was expertly handled by Niall O’Brien, who scored a sublime 72. It was captain Trent Johnston who hit the six that secured Ireland’s three-wicket win.

2011 – Kevin O’Brien goes ballistic in Bangalore

Ireland were 106/4 in the 23rd over in pursuit of 328 against old foes England when Kevin O’Brien strode out. The score duly became 111/5, before O’Brien decided to unleash mayhem on the hapless bowlers. The all-rounder pounded 13 fours and six sixes en route to a 50-ball ton – the fastest in World Cup history – and added 162 for the sixth wicket with Alex Cusack (47). Though he perished for a 63-ball 113, he had done enough to seal a three-wicket win for Ireland.

2015 – Ireland prove again that they belong

The West Indies became yet another full member to fall prey to Ireland, though this time the result was hardly considered an upset. Ireland allowed the Windies to get away from 87/5 to 304/7 in their first match at Nelson, but Paul Stirling (92), Ed Joyce (84) and Niall O’Brien (79*) clinically guided them to a four-wicket win in the 46th over. Ireland also beat Zimbabwe and narrowly missed out on a quarterfinal spot, thus proving that they had outgrown Associate status.



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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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