The West Indies ego was badly bruised by the shock defeat in the 1983 World Cup final at the hands of India. They arrived in the sub-continent looking to exorcise that ghost and reassert their supremacy, but this time they were without their great motivator and long-standing captain Clive Lloyd.
Gordon Greenidge was absent too, and their pace attack was badly depleted with Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Joel Garner having retired, and Malcolm Marshall unavailable. The question on everyone’s lips was whether Vivian Richards’ team was good enough to dominate the first World Cup being staged outside England.
The English were on unfamiliar territory, and the two met at the unlikely venue of the Municipal Stadium, Gujranwala. It was an ominous start for the former champions as Carlisle Best was bowled by Philip DeFreitas with a mere 8 runs on the board. But Richie Richardson combined with Desmond Haynes and Vivian Richards in two useful partnerships.
Neil Foster returned to knock back the stumps of both Richardson and Richards, and at 122 for four the West Indies needed another good partnership. That was provided by Jeff Dujon and Gus Logie as they added 83 for the fifth wicket.
The West Indies ultimately finished at 243 for seven off their 50 overs. That was a score which would take some chasing.
England did not help their cause as wickets fell regularly. Graham Gooch held firm at the top of the order with a well-made 47, but at 131 for six the England card did not bear a healthy look.
Allan Lamb had only the tailenders for company. He was one batsman who had often stood up to the West Indies quicks. And only a few months earlier in January he had powered England to an exciting win over Australia at Sydney, hitting 18 runs off left-arm paceman Bruce Reid’s final over.
Now 91 runs were required off the last 10 overs. Lamb raised valuable runs in his forthright manner, first with John Emburey and then with DeFreitas. Still, with eight wickets gone there were 35 runs left, and 3 overs in which to get them. Lamb was in top gear but it was still anyone’s game.
Lamb lashed 15 runs from the 48th over bowled by Courtney Walsh. But Patrick Patterson was more economical as he conceded just six runs off the penultimate over. There were 13 needed as the last over came up.
Walsh seemed to have been struck by an attack of nerves. His first ball was a full toss which Lamb dispatched to the fence. Then he bowled a leg-side wide which flew to the boundary, and thereafter a no-ball off which Lamb took a single. It was left to Neil Foster to hit the winning boundary.
England snatched a thrilling win with just three balls to spare. Lamb finished with a superb unbeaten 67 off 68 balls to give his side a rousing start in the event. The Windies on the other hand bit the dust again.
West Indies: 243 for 7 wickets (50 overs), England: 246 for 8 wickets (49.3 overs) (CWC 1987)