Kapil Dev, Dean Jones
Kapil Dev (L) and Dean Jones (Agencies)

In the build-up to the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, CricketCountry brings to you the most memorable moments and matches from the Cricket World Cup – right from its first edition, way back in 1975. With 83 days to go, in our latest World Cup Countdown, we recall how Australia rode a wonderful gesture of sportsmanship to win a cliff-hanger against India.

India started their World Cup 1987 campaign against Australia at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Mumbai.

During the course of the clash, Maninder Singh was hit towards long-on by Dean Jones where the ball eluded Ravi Shastri as it landed behind him.

According to Jones, it cleared the rope by at least a metre. However, Kiran More, who had been squatting behind the stumps, later said that it did not look like a six.

Dickie Bird asked the fielder, and Shastri signalled four. Bird took his word for it.

Jones had a word with Bird and the umpire responded that they would talk about it after the innings. Australia ended at 268/6.

During the break, the Australian manager Alan Crompton went vocal saying that he did not agree with the decision. There was a conference between the Australian team management and the umpires, Bird and David Archer, following which the two officials approached the Indian skipper Kapil Dev who, in a sterling demonstration of sporting spirit, agreed to it being called a six.

The total had been readjusted to 270/6. It did not seem to matter with India getting off to a flier. Uncharacteristically, Sunil Gavaskar romped to 37 off just 32 balls. Kris Srikkanth flashed his way to 70. And then debutant Navjot Sidhu raced to 73 off just 79 balls.

With the rock-solid Dilip Vengsarkar at the other end, India were 207/2 with almost 15 overs remaining. The additional 2 runs seemed destined to be relegated to a flimsy footnote.

Aussie captain Allan Border brought back Craig McDermott who then turned the complexion of the match. The big pace bowler used subtle changes of pace, well-disguised off-spinners and cutters, and soon had the middle order in trouble. Sidhu was bowled, Azharuddin also had his stumps disturbed, Vengsarkar holed out at mid-on while Shastri was deceived by a slower one.

Even then, India needed just 16 off the last four overs with four wickets in hand. Kapil and More were at the crease with Roger Binny and Manoj Prabhakar to follow.

And then, Kapil holed out off Simon O’Donnell. At the same score, Binny chanced the arm of Jones and the electrifying fielder hit the only stump he could see.

More struck Steve Waugh for 2 fours to the leg side, but at 265, Prabhakar pushed to cover and sprinted down the wicket, and Border threw down the stumps with his bull’s-eye accuracy.

The last over began with the No. 11 Maninder Singh, facing Steve Waugh, with 6 required to win.

Maninder took a couple, and then turned another to backward of square for two more. Waugh ran in with 2 required off 2 balls. Jones later admitted that an eerie feeling of “been there, done that” was running through his mind as he willed Maninder to hit it in the air to him at mid-on.

The ball was dead straight and Maninder missed it. The Indians heard the death rattle. The home team was all out for 269 — 1 more than the score that Australia had finished at — but 1 less than the one they had walked out to chase.

Kapil’s magnanimity had resulted in losing by the closest margin ever in a World Cup.

Brief Scores: Australia 270/6 (Geoff Marsh 110, David Boon 49; Manoj Prabhakar 2/47) beat India 269-all out (Navjot 73, Kris Srikkanth 70; Craig McDermott 4/56) by one run