'How will we counter a bowler as fearsome as Dennis Lillee?' was a question the West Indies players may have posed themselves before facing Australia in the group stages of cricket's first World Cup in 1975. One man had all the answers.
The much-anticipated clash between the eventual finalists was played at the Oval and began with Windies skipper Clive Lloyd winning the toss and asking Ian Chappell-led Australia to bat first. The Windies bowling attack led by Andy Roberts restricted Australia to 192. Roberts took three wickets and was well-supported by Keith Boyce and a young Viv Richards who chipped in with two wickets apiece. Ross Edwards and Rod Marsh were the prime contributors for the Aussies, scoring 58 and 52 respectively, as only four batsmen from Down Under reached double figures.
Chasing 193, the Windies lost opener Gordon Greenidge early, paving the way for Alvin Kallicharan to play a masterclass of his own. Lillee looked set to rattle the Windies batting with his lethal bouncers, but the 5' 4" tall Kallicharan had other plans to counter the Aussie quick.
Kallicharan, who was sledged heavily by the Australians when the two teams played in the West Indies in 1972-73, decided to give it back to the opponents on the big stage.
The little man played shots to all parts of the ground tearing apart the Aussie bowlers before he decided to single out Dennis Lillee for punishment. As Lillee came on for his second spell, Kallicharan greeted him with a four. The next nine deliveries from the paceman saw Kalli hit six fours and a six with only one dot ball, smashing 35 runs off l0 deliveries, an almost unheard of strike rate in those days.
He mercilessly hooked any delivery that was bowled short at him and drove beautifully off the backfoot to anything bowled on the off-stump. Even the edges flew to the boundary as destiny had chosen it to be Alvin's day. Kallicharan's dominance of Lillee was that of David over Goliath and the performance bagged him the Man of the Match award.
He finally got out for 78 off 83 deliveries after skying a Lillee bouncer to mid-wicket but by then the Windies were in command of the match. Kallicharan was involved in a 124-run partnership with Roy Fredericks before Viv Richards and Rohan Kanhai finished the game with 14 overs to spare to script a seven-wicket win.
The two sides met again in the final at Lord's and the West Indies came out on top again, winning the match and inaugural edition of the tournament by 17 runs.