In the illustrious history of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, the world has witnessed nail-biting finishes, the birth of new stars and underdogs rising time and again to steal the limelight and upset the giants of world cricket. As ICC World Cup 2023 is just around the corner, with ten teams vying for glory, anticipation is high for more David-and-Goliath showdowns. Let us take a trip down memory lane and relive some of the unforgettable upsets in the history of the ICC World Cup that left cricket fans worldwide spellbound.

Bangladesh vs. Pakistan (1999)

In 1999, Bangladesh, not yet granted full Test status, faced off against arguably the best Pakistani squad of all time. The match may have been a dead rubber, however, it turned out to be one of the biggest upsets in cricket World Cup history. Bangladesh, while batting first showed grit against experienced Pakistani bowling and set a modest target of 224 on a tricky wicket. Pakistan, floundering at 42 for 5, succumbed for 161, thanks to brilliant seam bowling by Khaled Mahmud, who returned with figures of 3-31. Though the defeat did not alter Pakistan’s campaign and they went on to play the final, however, it marked a turning point for Bangladesh, leaving an indelible mark on their cricketing journey.


Zimbabwe vs. India (1999)

The 1999 Cricket World Cup witnessed Zimbabwe penning a remarkable chapter in their cricketing history, as they scripted two iconic upsets, against South Africa and India. The victory against India however holds a special place in history books considering the dramatic turn of events as Zimbabwe snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

India, while chasing 253, needed a mere nine runs from the final two overs with three wickets in hand and a set batter Robin Singh on the crease. Then, in a stunning turn of events, Henry Olonga emerged as the game-changer as he returned to the attack and picked the final three wickets in a whirlwind over.

Robin Singh fell for a valiant 35, followed by a breathless sequence that saw Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad departing, leaving India all out for 249. Prior to that, Zimbabwe had been propelled to 252 by an exceptional innings from Andy Flower, who remained unbeaten at 68 and was supported by his brother Grant Flower’s innings of 45.


Ireland vs. Pakistan (2007)

On St. Patrick’s Day in 2007, Pakistan collided with Ireland in a group match amidst rainy conditions after losing to hosts West Indies in their opening game. The match was expected to be a walkover by the experienced Pakistan side; however, Irish pace bowlers capitalized on the conditions, restricting Pakistan to a mere 132. With only four Pakistani players reaching double digits, it was a staggering display by Ireland’s pace attack led by Boyd Rankin 3-32. Ireland handed a revised target of 128, defied expectations as Niall O’Brien’s heroics steered them to an improbable win, sending shockwaves through the cricketing world.


Ireland vs. England (2011)

In 2011, Kevin O’Brien etched his name in World Cup folklore after a Hercules effort to pull off the highest successful run chase in World Cup history. While, batting first Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell scored half-centuries to power England to a mammoth 327-8. Ireland’s chase seemed doomed at 111-5 in the 25th over. Then came, Kevin O’Brien who scored an audacious 113 off 63 balls, embellished with 13 fours and six sixes, defied belief. He orchestrated a miraculous victory, turning what seemed like a certain defeat into a euphoric triumph.


Kenya vs. Sri Lanka (2003)

The 2003 World Cup witnessed a story for the ages – Kenya’s astonishing run to the semi-finals. Labelled minnows, Kenya’s determination and hard work defied all odds as they became the only non-test playing nation to play a World Cup semi-final.

In a crucial group encounter with Sri Lanka, they posted 210, thanks to a gutsy 60 off 88 by opening batter Kennedy Otieno. Sri Lanka, boasting an array of top batters, seemed poised for victory. However, Collins Obuya, rained on their parade with a spellbinding 5-24, helping his side dismantle Sri Lanka for a mere 157. It stands as one of cricket’s most cherished underdog victories.


Bangladesh vs. India (2007)

India, boasting a star-studded lineup, faced a spirited Bangladesh side in World Cup 2007. Indian captain Rahul Dravid’s decision to bat on a challenging Trinidad wicket backfired spectacularly as a strong India batting lineup crumbled for 191 despite Sourav Ganguly’s 66. Bangladesh bowlers Mashafe Mortaza, Mohammad Rafique, and Abdul Razzak shared ten wickets. Bangladesh chased the total at the loss of five wickets, courtesy of half-centuries by Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan, who went on to become mainstays of Bangladesh batting after this historic win.


As the cricketing world braces for yet another enthralling World Cup, we eagerly await the emergence of new heroes and the continuation of these awe-inspiring tales.

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