RECORD BOOK – The worst starts to a World Cup innings

  Few things in ODI cricket are as catastrophic as a nightmarish start to the innings. Teams bank on their top order to lay a sound platform for the innings to prosper and flourish in the later stages. But when the top order itself is destroyed in a matter of few minutes, things can go horribly wrong. More often than not, the effect is felt on the batsmen to follow, who on finding themselves in the middle much sooner than they expected, fail to cope up with the situation at hand.

  A scoreboard on which the number of runs scored are less than the wickets lost makes for uneasy viewing for the batting side, and it can become all the more embarrassing when such a state of affairs is experienced in a World Cup match. In this post, we look at the three worst starts to an innings in the World Cup, taking into consideration the first three wickets to fall. Not surprisingly, in all three instances, the side suffering the unwanted start went on to lose the match.

0/3 – Pakistan against New Zealand, Edgbaston, 1983

  In a match played across two days because of rain, New Zealand prevailed over Pakistan by  52 runs. Pakistani leg-spinner Abdul Qadir bowled brilliantly to take four middle-order wickets and reduce New Zealand from 68/1 to 120/5, but some doughty batting by the lower order enabled the Kiwis to recover lost ground and eventually post a total of 238/9 off 60 overs on the second morning.

  In their previous game against Sri Lanka, Pakistan’s top three had scored a combined total of 200 runs. Three days later, the same three batsmen were brought down to earth by the formidable fast-bowling pair of Richard Hadlee and Lance Cairns. In the first over of Pakistan’s reply, it took Hadlee only three balls to get into the act as he trapped Mohsin Khan plumb in front to make it 0/1.

zhadlee        New Zealand’s Richard Hadlee took two wickets in the first over against Pakistan at Edgbaston in the 1983 World Cup (source – icc-cricket.com)

  Off the last ball of the same over, Hadlee accounted for his second victim in the form of the stylish Zaheer Abbas, who was clean bowled for his first duck in ODI cricket. Just one over into the innings, Pakistan had lost two accomplished batsmen without a run on the board. In the second over, Cairns rubbed it in by having Mudassar Nazar caught behind the wicket by Warren Lees.

  After eight balls, Pakistan’s score read a depressing 0/3. This was the first instance of such a score being recorded in an ODI match, and only the third in international cricket. Pakistan went on to slump to 60/6, and despite a fighting innings from Qadir down the order, were bowled out for 186 in 55.2 overs.

0/3 – Bangladesh against Sri Lanka, Pietermaritzburg, 2003

  The first international match played at Pietermaritzburg’s City Oval – known as one of the two first-class cricket grounds with a tree within the boundary line – provided the most sensational start ever to a World Cup match. This was the second match in the tournament for both teams – while Sri Lanka had begun on a positive note against New Zealand, Bangladesh, by contrast, displayed their ineptitude in a tame defeat to Canada.

  After Bangladesh lost the toss, their batsmen had the unenviable task of facing Sri Lanka’s finest pace bowler, the left-arm seamer Chaminda Vaas in the first over. Vaas had the penchant of reducing a team to rubble in the first few overs itself – in the last two years or so, his ODI feats included, among other things, taking five wickets to send India crashing to 54 all out and returning world-record figures of 8/19 against Zimbabwe.

  The first international over at the City Oval could not have been more eventful. History was made even before most of the 2000-strong crowd could settle themselves on the grass banks. The Bangladeshi top order hardly inspired confidence, especially after the team’s demoralising defeat to Canada, and hence were ripe for the picking. Openers Hannan Sarkar and Al Sahariar came out to bat in the hope of reviving their beleaguered team’s fortunes.

  But Vaas, despite a bit of soreness in his back, was in no mood to give an inch. Sarkar had himself to blame as he attempted an ugly-looking drive off the very first ball, which went on to rattle the off-stump. Teenaged Mohammed Ashraful – who scored a century on Test debut against the Sri Lankans in 2001 – was the next man in. He too lasted one ball as he popped a simple return catch. Panic was already beginning to creep in the Bangladeshi ranks as Vaas waited for his next prey, Ehsanul Haque.

  Vaas induced an outside edge from Haque who could not get past the safe hands of Mahela Jayawardene at second slip. 0.3 overs, 0/3. For the first time in an international match, three wickets had fallen off the first three balls. Vaas took off in celebration, but was not done yet. Off the fifth ball of the over, he trapped Sanwar Hossain leg before to make it 5/4. There has never been a more woeful start to an ODI innings.

zvaasy     Chaminda Vaas celebrates his hat-trick against Bangladesh in the 2003 World Cup. He took three wickets off the first three balls of the innings (source – getty images/yahoo.com)

  Vaas became the third bowler after Chetan Sharma and Saqlain Mushtaq to take a World Cup hat-trick. Despite losing four wickets in the first five balls, Bangladesh managed to take their innings into the 32nd over. They were bowled out for 124, with Vaas recording figures of 6/25, then the third best bowling analysis in the World Cup. The seasoned opening pair of Marvan Atapattu and captain Sanath Jayasuriya then knocked off the target in just 21.1 overs to ensure a thumping ten-wicket victory.

2/3 – Ireland against Australia, Bridgetown, 2007

  That Ireland had entered the Super Eight round was a fairytale in itself, hence there was no expectation whatsoever from them when they took the field against Ricky Ponting’s all-conquering Australians at the Kensington Oval. A tie against Zimbabwe followed by a stunning win over Pakistan in the group stage had made Ireland the flavour of the tournament, but as was expected, they found Australia a bit too hot to handle.

  The teams were greeted with a bouncy wicket with a bit of moisture, and hence Ponting had no hesitation in fielding first. Glenn McGrath started the proceedings and Ireland’s Sydney-born opener Jeremy Bray got off the mark straight away. William Porterfield too opened his account four balls later. ‘Pigeon’ however struck off the next ball, swinging in one to clip Bray’s off-stump.

  At the other end, the pace of Shaun Tait was creating problems for the Irish batsmen from the very outset. After two consecutive maidens, Tait claimed the second wicket, hitting the first ball of his second over straight onto Porterfield’s pads. The new batsman Niall O’Brien – hero of the win against Pakistan – was dismissed the very next ball, as he dragged a full toss onto his stumps to give Tait two in two.

  The score read three down with just two runs on the board, and the game was effectively decided in that period. Ireland were bundled out for 91 in 30 overs, a total which was chased down by Australia – the eventual title winners – in just 12.2 overs for the loss of one wicket, with Michael Hussey sealing the win and his team’s entry into the semfinals with a six off Boyd Rankin.

Watch Chaminda Vaas’ unique hat-trickhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HSppwrosbY

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