Australia captain Allan Border with the trophy © Getty Images
Australia captain Allan Border with the trophy © Getty Images

History: World Cup 1987 was, in many ways, a first. It was the first edition to be hosted outside England; hosted by two countries (India and Pakistan); to be sponsored by an organisation other than Prudential Assurance; due to the shorter days in the subcontinent, the matches were reduced to 50-over contests; Indore witnessed the first rain-reduced match in the history of the tournament; and at Karachi Sri Lanka became the first team to chase an adjusted target.

All seven Test-playing nations and Zimbabwe (who were getting better by the day) played the tournament. The format remained the same, the only change being the switch of New Zealand and West Indies across the groups. The tournament started in remarkable fashion, with three of the first four matches going down to the last over; the fourth was decided by a 15-run margin. But the fun had just begun.

Group A was relatively easy for Australia and India, who beat each other once and each of New Zealand and Zimbabwe twice. Group B was more keenly contested: while Pakistan beat England twice and England beat West Indies twice, Pakistan and West Indies had a 1-1 outcome. With Sri Lanka losing all six matches, West Indies were eliminated for the first time in the league stages.

With India and Pakistan both topping their respective groups, the subcontinent waited for them to clash in the final at Eden Gardens for what would have been their first World Cup clash; unfortunately, Pakistan lost to Australia at Lahore, while England beat India at Wankhede. The final witnessed a battle between arch rivals — but of another pair.

Australia put up a formidable 253 for seven, thanks to David Boon’s 75 and a match-changing 31-ball 45 from Mike Veletta; England were cruising along at 135 for two when Mike Gatting attempted the infamous reverse-sweep off Allan Border and top-edged; the resultant catch was accepted gleefully by Greg Dyer. England fell short by seven runs.

Australia’s win was scripted by their exceptional top-order: Boon and Geoff Marsh finished at Nos. 2 and 3 on the runs chart (both men averaged in excess of 50); Dean Jones also featured in the top ten; and Veletta, inducted in the XI later in the tournament, averaged over 45 with a strike rate of 112. As for bowlers, Craig McDermott finished at the top with Steve Waugh and Simon O’Donnell accompanying him in the top ten.

Classic matches

Allan Lamb douses West Indies’ hopes with an unbeaten 67

Kapil Dev’s sporting spirit costs India a close match

Dave Houghton’s near miracle that ended with Martin Crowe’s unbelievable catch

Abdul Qadir stuns England

Viv Richards decimates Sri Lanka at Karachi

Courtney Walsh’s sporting gesture costs West Indies a semifinal berth

Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar take field together

Chetan Sharma takes first World Cup hat-trick before Sunil Gavaskar blitzkrieg

Semi-final: Craig McDermott shatters Imran Khan’s dreams at Lahore

Semi-final: Graham Gooch sweeps Indian dreams aside

Final: Australia lift maiden Trophy after Mike Gatting’s reverse-sweep


– It was the first edition to be hosted outside England.

– It was the first edition to be hosted by two countries, India and Pakistan.

– It was the first edition to be sponsored by an organisation other than Prudential Assurance.

– It was the first tournament to involve 50-over matches. They have not reverted to, and are not likely to revert to, the old format.

– It witnessed the first rain-reduced match in the history of the tournament — at Indore, between Australia and New Zealand. The match was reduced to 30 overs a side.

– It also witnessed the first match with an adjusted target. Though England batted 50 overs, Sri Lanka could bat only 45 after rain stopped play at Peshawar. Their target was reduced from 297 to 267.

– It was the last time that an Asian team did not play a World Cup final.

– It was the first time that West Indies failed to make it to the World Cup semi-final.

– The seven-run margin remains the smallest in the history of World Cup finals.


Most runs: Graham Gooch (471), David Boon (447), Geoff Marsh (428)

Most wickets: Craig McDermott (18), Imran Khan (17), Patrick Patterson (14), Maninder Singh (14)

Highest team score: 360 for 4, West Indies against Sri Lanka, Karachi, October 13

Prudential World Cup Cricket 1987: Facts, figures, and statistics