87 days to go: Australia rises again under Border

The tale of Australia's 1987 World Cup campaign, which changed the course of cricket history forever.

Published: 04th March 2019 08:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th May 2019 05:30 PM   |  A+A-

David Boon, Allan Border

Key architects of Australia's World Cup triumph in 1987 | AFP

Online Desk

"Of all the World Cups I played in, that one in India was really a dream." 
- Steve Waugh on the 1987 World Cup. 

Calling one of the biggest turning points in cricket history as a "dream" is both dismissive and the most perfect description of the tournament where Australia became world champions for the first time in their history. 

Australia's 1987 campaign, was a dream, not because it was fleeting or because it is something to fondly reminisce about, but because, each game, like a dream, had a tale to tell.

It all began with a game against the hosts, India in Chennai. While Australia weren't exactly favourites going into the contest, the pressure was definitely on India, as the first country, not named England, to host cricket's biggest tournament and as the defending champions.

Geoff Marsh and David Boon set the tone for what was to come in the rest of the tournament. The opening pair put on a century partnership before Marsh got his century. That helped Australia post a challenging 270/6 in 50 overs.

India's response was to go on the offensive and it worked for much of the game. They were cruising at 207/2 before Sidhu was dismissed.

Despite a middle-order collapse, India only needed eight off the final over. But Steve Waugh conceded just six. Maninder Singh was the last to go, just like at the tied Test at the same venue, a year ago, as Australia sneaked a win by just a single run.

Then came Zimbabwe, who were demolished by 96 runs on the back of another fifty from Marsh and an excellent four-fer by Simon O'Donnell.

After that was a 30-over affair against New Zealand. While Marsh was dismissed early, Boon made up for that with 87 of his own and cameos from the middle-order meant that Australia posted a stiff target of 200.

New Zealand's start was impressive but then fizzled out as Australia continued to pick up wickets in regular intervals. Steve Waugh was once again given the responsibility of taking care of it at the death and he delivered once again as Australia won by three runs.

India were up next and looking for revenge for their loss earlier in the tournament. With three of the top four getting fifties, India posted 289/6 in 50 overs. Although Marsh and Boon once again gave Australia a good start, a rare middle-order failure meant that Australia fell short by 56 runs. That would be their only loss in the entire tournament. 

In the next match, New Zealand were looking for revenge but unlike India, they weren't successful as Marsh's unbeaten century helped Australia post 251/8 before a flurry of run-outs and tight bowling resulted in a 17-run defeat.

With qualification for the semi-final secured for the first time since the inaugural edition of the World Cup, Australia swept aside Zimbabwe in their final group game by 70 runs courtesy of Boon's 93.

Knockout stages

After winning the toss in the semi-final against Pakistan in Lahore, Australia unsurprisingly decided to bat. The openers set the perfect platform once again and some useful middle-order cameos from Veletta and Waugh helped them post 267/8.

While it had been the batsmen who had dominated the headlines hitherto, Craig McDermott came out of nowhere to surprise the Pakistan batsmen. With the game evenly poised with Wasim Akram and Javed Miandad at the crease and the score at 177/4, he got rid of Akram then finished off the tail, claiming the last three wickets to finish with figures of 5/44 in his 10 overs.

A forgotten gem

In the final against England, David Boon's 75 coupled with Veletta's forgotten gem, a match-turning 45 not out, helped Australia post 253/5.

England didn't get off to a great start but were well on course for victory at 135/2 with the well-set duo of captain Mike Gatting and Bill Athey at the crease.

Then Gatting went for an ill-advised reverse sweep off the bowling of his counterpart Allan Border. The rest, as they say, is history. Despite Allan Lamb's 45, England never really recovered and eventually fell short by seven runs. 

And just like the dream had come true. Australia claimed their maiden World Cup and as Steve Waugh so eloquently said, "it was really a dream".

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