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Best and worst from the World Cup

March 24, 2003 15:48 IST
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The Best Deliveries:

* Zimbabwe's Grant Flower, bowling left-arm spin wide of the crease against India in the Group A match in Harare (Feb 19), tempted Sachin Tendulkar half-forward, the turning ball beating his bat and clipping the off bail. "I got one to turn for a change," he said. Tendulkar's 81, though, won the match.

James Anderson* England quick James Anderson, exploiting Cape Town's evening conditions, produced a sharply swinging yorker from leg to off stump which bowled Pakistan's Yousuf Youhana first ball in their Group A meeting (Feb 22). The 20-year-old's previous delivery dismissed Inzamam-ul-Haq. Anderson's four for 29 set up a 112-run win.

* When Sri Lanka's Chaminda Vaas had Bangladesh's Ehsanul Haque caught at second slip with a ball angled across the batsman at Pietermaritzburg (Feb 14) in Group B, the left-arm seamer completed an unprecedented hat-trick with the first three balls of an international match.

* Shane Bond bowled Australia's Ian Harvey with such a perfect leg cutter that the batsman was still looking to square leg in search of his shot as his middle stump hit the ground. Bond took a New Zealand best of six for 23 at Port Elizabeth (March 11) and removed Ricky Ponting for the sixth time in their six meetings and still ended up on the wrong end of a 96-run Super Six defeat.

The Best Shot:

* Tendulkar cut Shoaib Akhtar's fourth ball for six as India began chasing Pakistan's 273 for seven in Centurion (March 1). The next two deliveries disappeared for more classical boundaries, but that six set the tone for an extraordinary match-winning innings. Tendulkar, the world's best batsman, won his personal contest with Shoaib, one of the world's two fastest bowlers. Shoaib finally got his man for a 75-ball 98, but by then Tendulkar, struggling with cramp, had all but won the Group A game. Shoaib took one for 72 off 10 overs.

The Best Innings:

John Davison* Canada's John Davison, a first-class off spinner and tail-end batsman, hit the fastest century (32 in fours, 36 in sixes) in Cup history with a 67-baller against West Indies at Centurion (Feb 23), completed with a six off pace bowler Mervyn Dillon. The achievement, he said, "sent a shiver down my spine". Four days earlier, Canada were bowled out for a world-record low of 36 by Sri Lanka in Group B.

*New Zealand's Stephen Fleming scored 134 not out off 132 deliveries in a high-pressure run chase to beat South Africa at The Wanderers (Feb 16) in Group B. "I've waited a long time for an innings like that," he said.

* Tendulkar's 98 against Pakistan may have missed the magical three-figure mark but, in terms of textbook savagery, must rank as one of the great one-day innings.

* Ricky Ponting's 140 not out (March 23) was not only a record for a final, it was spellbinding. The Australian captain scored a measured 50 off 74 balls, including one four, then hit eight sixes and three more fours as the next 47 deliveries went for 90. Tendulkar said it was one of the best innings he had ever seen. It was also done under extreme pressure and by a man who was once seen as lacking gravitas.

The Best Spell:

Brett Lee effectively took eight wicket for three runs in 27 balls. He finished off New Zealand in the Super Sixes with five wicket for three runs in 15 deliveries at Port Elizabeth (March 11). He then took a hat-trick, the first in a World Cup by an Australian, in 12 balls without conceding a run against Kenya in Durban.

The Best Catches:

* West Indian Vasbert Drakes, to end Davison's remarkable innings of 111. He seemed badly positioned after drifting in off the boundary rope at long-off but jack-knifed backwards and caught the ball one-handed high above his head. The television commentators announced a six before Drakes got up with the ball in his hand. He also completed figures of five for 44.

* Lee's dismissal of Andy Blignaut after the Zimbabwean's 25-ball half-century in Bulawayo (Feb 24) in Group A came close. Blignaut cross-batted a lightning full toss straight back at the bowler who somehow caught the ball at throat level. Lee himself could not believe it. Lip-readers would have had no problems identifying his shocked expletive.

The Best Run-outs:

* New Zealand's 20-run win against West Indies in Port Elizabeth (Feb 13) owed much to Brian Lara's dismissal. He fell to cricket's latest innovation, the relay throw, when Lou Vincent chased down the ball, slung it low to Chris Cairns who turned instantly and, with one stump to aim at, ran Lara out for two.

* Sri Lankan duo Kumar Sangakarra and Muttiah Muralitharan were similarly brilliant in running out Shaun Pollock and, in effect, knocking South Africa out of the World Cup in Durban (March 3). The wicketkeeper's lightning pick-up and throw after Pollock's leg-side prod was well wide of the stumps at the bowler's end but Muralitharan caught the ball and flicked it behind his back to beat Pollock's lunge by inches. Even umpire Steve Bucknor was caught out. Sure that the batsman was in, he almost did not bother to call for television adjudication.

Kenya teamThe Best Celebration:* Kenya's players jived away at the fall of each late wicket as they pulled off the biggest upset of the World Cup against the Sri Lankans in Nairobi (Feb 24). There were more jubilant huddles when they beat Bangladesh in Johannesburg (March 1) to clinch their place in the Super Sixes. There was less dancing from then on, however, as Steve Tikolo's side realised what they had achieved in becoming the first non-test nation to reach the last four.

The Best Quote:

* Namibian bowler Rudi van Vuuren, who has also represented his country at rugby union: "Knowing my capabilities as a batsman, I'd rather take on Jonah Lomu one-on-one than Brett Lee."

The Worst Shot:

Nathan Astle came to the crease against India at Centurion (March 14) with the score on nought for one in a must-win Super Six game. First ball he aimed across a full-length delivery from left-armer Zaheer Khan and fell lbw to make it nought for two. New Zealand were bowled out for 146 and duly headed home.

The Worst Innings:

Leading batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq, dismissed for a golden duck against England, went in to bat against the Netherlands at Paarl (Feb 25) needing a confidence boost. Barely moving his feet, he was trapped for a second-ball duck by Tim de Leede's medium-paced floater. The fourth heaviest one-day scorer in history, he made scores of 6, 4, 0, 0, 6 and 3 as Pakistan were knocked out of the tournament.

* Canadian World Cup batsman Ishwar Maraj produced the second most tedious one-day innings of all time in scoring 53 not out off 155 deliveries -- 25 overs and five balls -- against South Africa in East London (Feb 27). South Africa made things worse by dropping him several times. Twenty-eight years previously Sunil Gavaskar, one of the great batsmen of his age, inexplicably batted through 60 overs to score a soporific 36 not out as England beat India by 202 runs at Lord's on the first day of the inaugural World Cup.

The Worst Drops:

* South Africa's Mark Boucher, snatching too eagerly at the ball, dropped Fleming on 53 at The Wanderers from a regulation edge (Feb 16). Fleming went on to win the match for New Zealand with his unbeaten century, leaving the hosts in turmoil. For the next few days, arguments raged over Pollock's captaincy and whether Allan Donald should be axed.

* Pedro Collins made as bad an error against South Africa in the World Cup opener although it proved less costly. He sauntered nonchalantly backwards to catch Lance Klusener at square leg at Cape Town only to step on the rope. Klusener, however, with 57 from 48 balls, was caught by Carl Hooper in the final over as West Indies sneaked home by three runs.

* With New Zealand defending 146 at Centurion in the Super Sixes, Shane Bond took two quick wickets and Jacob Oram removed Sachin Tendulkar to reduce India to 21 for three. Rahul Dravid, the last senior batsman, then edged past the slips. Back on strike, he snicked Bond again to wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum, who spilled a chance he would catch 19 times out of 20.

The Worst Celebration:

* Bangladesh, cricket's 10th Test nation, did not have the chance to celebrate anything after five World Cup defeats out of six, the first to lowly Canada and the last to Kenya. Their only points came from a wash-out against West Indies. The team extended their world record run of one-dayers without victory to 32 matches by losing to the Kenyans (March 1).

The Worst Quotes:

* "There is no question we can get better. If we were quite happy to sit back after back-to-back World Cups then we would be doing ourselves a disservice." Australia coach John Buchanan after winning the final.

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