The most iconic photo of World Cup 2007: Dwayne Leverock about to take an earth-shattering catch    Getty Images
The most iconic photo of World Cup 2007: Dwayne Leverock about to take an earth-shattering catch Getty Images

Queen s Park Oval saw India become the first side to overhaul the 400-run barrier in a World Cup on March 19, 2007 thanks to some violent Bermuda-bashing from Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, and Sachin Tendulkar. Abhishek Mukherjee recalls a day of carnage and submission, punctuated by tears, a catch, and an unheralded farewell.

World Cup 2007 had, on paper, one of the best possible formats: the 16 teams were split into four groups, followed by a Super Eights that would involve the top eight teams pitted against each other. It was a welcome change after the Super Sixes, given the fact the good teams would get to meet each other more, and matches involving minnows would be reduced.

What they had not considered was upsets, and the fact that if a big side lost to a minnow, it would be very difficult for it to come back. India, one of the most high-profile teams going into the World Cup 2007, had received a rude shock when they were beaten by Bangladesh in their first World Cup match. On the same day, Pakistan crashed out of the tournament following a defeat against Ireland.

Two days before Bangladesh s triumph over India, Sri Lanka had met Bermuda: Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara the usual suspects batted away to glory, supported by Chamara Silva; the Bermuda batsmen were no match for Lasith Malinga, and Sri Lanka won by 243 runs. This meant that India had to beat Sri Lanka as well as build up a humongous net run rate against Bermuda.

The catch and the tears

Irving Romaine, for some reason, put India in on an absolute flat track. Malachi Jones, all of 17, opened bowling, and sent one outside off; Robin Uthappa poked at it; the 127-kg Dwayne Leverock, standing at first slip, flung himself to the right, and somehow managed to come up with a near-miraculous catch.

It was an unbelievable achievement for both men: as an ecstatic Leverock ran and ran around the ground (it is another thing that nobody would have dared stop him), young Jones was so overwhelmed that he was left in tears; it was not every day that you get to take an ODI wicket, let alone an opener from a Test side.

Carnage

What followed was not very common in 2007, but with T20 cricket spreading its wings across the globe at breakneck pace, it is not out of place. Sourav Ganguly scored a sedate 114-ball 89, while Virender Sehwag blitzed his way to an 87-ball 114. There used to be a saying that the 30-over score is usually doubled, but though India reached 200 in the 30th over, nobody thought they would double it.

MS Dhoni was promoted above Sachin Tendulkar, as was Yuvraj Singh. Tendulkar eventually emerged at the fall of the fourth wicket; the score read 269 for 4 after 38.2 overs. Yuvraj and Tendulkar added 122 in 62 balls, taking the score tantalisingly close to the 400-mark.

The batsmen had crossed, and Tendulkar reverse-paddle-swept Leverock for four, and tried an encore, only to get a single. The score read 396 for 5 after 49 overs, 2 short of Sri Lanka s World Cup record of 398 for 5; Leverock finished with 96 from 10 overs, though he had the small consolation of dismissing Yuvraj for a 46-ball 83.

David Hemp bowled the last over, and Tendulkar swept his first ball for six, pushing India beyond the 400-mark something no team had achieved in World Cup till then. There ran a few ones and twos, and Rahul Dravid, was left to face the last ball, which would be his second. Tendulkar, meanwhile, had raced to a 29-ball 57.

Hemp pitched up, and Dravid, widely acknowledged as the epitome of temperament, came forward and lofted it for six to finish things off in spectacular fashion. They finished on 413 for 5.

The match against Bermuda was Anil Kumble   s last ODI    Getty Images
The match against Bermuda was Anil Kumble s last ODI Getty Images

Submission

Bermuda never had a chance, and Zaheer Khan made the first inroad by dismissing Oliver Pitcher in his first over. Bermuda may have raised their hopes once it started raining after 3.1 overs, but play resumed without any loss of overs. Zaheer came back to remove Steven Outerbridge, and Bermuda found them all at sea against Zaheer, Ajit Agarkar, and Munaf Patel.

Anil Kumble, brought in for Harbhajan Singh, struck a double-blow. Dean Minors played a hand, helping Hemp add 43, but Agarkar took 3 wickets from 6 balls to reduce them to 118 for 8. Leverock held fort at one end, helping Hemp reach his fifty; the ninth wicket stand added 44 from 61 balls.

Hemp remained unbeaten on a well-compiled 76 as Kumble polished things off. Both Agarkar and Kumble finished with 3 for 38, and India, having won by 257 runs, acquired the necessary net run rate.

What followed?

– Kumble never played another ODI.

– India s emphatic victory did not help them. Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan dished them a 69-run win. India still had an outside chance if Bermuda managed to upset Bangladesh. Bermuda scored 94 for 9 in a match reduced to 21 overs, and though Saleem Mukuddem reduced Bangladesh to 37 for 3 in 7.1 overs, Bangladesh romped to an easy victory.

– Till 2011, no other side has reached 400 in the World Cup.

Brief scores:

India 413 for 5 in 50 overs (Sourav Ganguly 89, Virender Sehwag 114, Yuvraj Singh 83, Sachin Tendulkar 57*) beat Bermuda 156 in 43.1 overs (David Hemp 76*; Ajit Agarkar 3 for 38, Anil Kumble 3 for 38).

Man of the match: Virender Sehwag

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here)