75 days to go: When the Super Cat and super fielder won it for the Windies

15 games over 15 days and just like that the inaugural World Cup was done and dusted.

Published: 16th March 2019 06:56 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th May 2019 05:28 PM   |  A+A-

Clive Lloyd

Clive Lloyd became the first World Cup-winning captain | Twitter

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It was a fabulous fortnight of cricket under the sun.

Two years after the Women's World Cup, as a hastily arranged afterthought, a fortnight in June was set aside for the first-ever Men's World Cup in 1975. 

England, who were the hosts and the favourites heading into the tournament, had bigger fish to fry just that summer as a four-Test Ashes was scheduled for later.

The entire tournament was over in a fortnight and with worries about the weather, all the action was condensed to just five days of cricket. Eight teams took part, split into two groups and the group stage happened across three days and one day was set aside for the semis and the final.

Even if only 18 ODIs were played between Test-playing nations before the tournament and the concept of ODI cricket still felt alien, it was a fabulous fortnight of cricket under the sun.

Group stage: Two clear favourites emerge

It all began with a bizarre 36* by Sunil Gavaskar, who batted out the entire 60 overs, with India chasing 335 for victory following Dennis Amiss.

Unsurprisingly, England stormed through to the semi-finals with crushing wins over India, New Zealand and East Africa in Group A. The West Indies too won all their group games to set up a semi-final clash against the side featuring the tournament's leading run-getter, Glenn Turner. 

If Gavaskar's bizarre go-slow knock began the group stage, the endearing memory remained Alvin Kallicharan's imperious knock against Australia at The Oval. Kalli sent Lillee to the cleaners smashing the fast-bowling great for 35 off his last ten balls.

ALSO READ | 78 days to go: When Kalli treated Lillee with disdain

Semi-finals: One-sided affairs

The semi-finals weren't as close as one would have anticipated. England busily prepared for Lillee and Thomson, but a 23-year-old rookie in Gary Gilmour blew them away with what remains the best figures in a World Cup knockout game (6/14).

Playing in his maiden World Cup encounter and only the third of his five ODIs, Gilmour took five wickets and scored a crucial 28 as Australia suffered a collapse but got over the line with four wickets in hand.

The second semi-final had all the makings of a World Cup classic with New Zealand at 98/1 but a collapse instigated by Andy Roberts, who got rid of captain Glenn Turner and Geoff Howarth, meant that the Black Caps only added 60 more after that. Another Kalli classic helped Windies go through to the final.

Final: Viv helps Windies take the crown

A century from 'Super Cat' Clive Lloyd. (Australian captain Ian Chappell said "he batted us from one side of Lord's to the other"). Gary Gilmour's second-successive game with at least five wickets. Keith Boyce's four-wicket haul. Rohan Kanhai's crucial fifty. All of them merit attention.

Yet the World Cup was won by Viv Richards. Not with the bat, but in the field, as he effected not one, not two, but three run-outs. 

First, it was to get rid of the dangerous Alan Turner and break the second-wicket partnership. Then it was to dismiss the two Chappell brothers.

Just like that, all of Australia's momentum vanished and despite the heroics of Lillee and Thomson, all they managed to do was reduce the quantum of defeat. Chappelli's men eventually fell short by 17 runs in a game that ended at 8 pm on the longest day of the year - June 21. 

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