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Team history at Cricket World Cup - India (1975-2011)

6.88K   //    12 Dec 2014, 03:06 IST
2015 Beckons: Will the cricketing world Bleed Blue again?

As the quadrennial showpiece event of One-Day International Cricket returns to Australian & Kiwi shores in just a couple of months, it is for the second time in its rich, 40-year old history that the Indian squad enters the tournament as defending champions. Experts, both from the media as well as from the armchair, have been debating, dissecting and evaluating the Men in Blue’s chances on the fast, bouncy tracks on offer Down Under.

While I will reserve my judgments on that aspect, what intrigues me even more is the statistical perspective – and that means records, facts and details.

Since 1975, there has been a plethora of performances, ranging from the superlative to the infuriatingly ordinary. Heroic deeds of men who carved places of honour in the glittering annals of cricketing folklore, the transition from flannel whites to coloured jerseys, the use of the white ball - all of these have only just whetted the appetite of cricket lovers around the world, and caused the fact fanatics to go into overdrive.

Here’s an in-depth analysis of the Indian contingent’s performance at the World Cup:

Overall Performances since 1975

Over the last forty years, the team has played 67 matches, with 39 victories and 26 defeats. Some of those defeats have been highly controversial, such as the semi-finals of the 1996 edition, India’s opening game against England in the inaugural World Cup, or even the Caribbean debacle in 2007. There have also been a few upsets along the way, some thrilling comebacks and a set of heroic performances – all reminiscent of a typical Bollywood potboiler!

The switch from Test cricket to the limited-overs version took the Indians nearly two editions to get adjusted to. Nevertheless, the proud nation triumphed over the hitherto invincible West Indies in 1983, ending the Calypso dominance in grand style at that hallowed ground called Lord’s.

They repeated their feat, this time in the familiar environs of the subcontinent, in 2011 – that edition saw them record their first ever tied World Cup game, a far cry from the struggling sides of the 1975 and 1979 editions.

Since the first time India and Pakistan squared off at the 1992 World Cup, the former has enjoyed total dominance over their arch rivals with five straight victories. It is, therefore, not surprising that the 2015 edition also gives spectators a chance to witness yet another high-voltage encounter between these cricketing heavyweights.

In summary, India’s overall record across all editions stands thus:


Total Matches Played






Tie & No Result


Win Percentage


Favourite Opposition

Pakistan (5-0 record since 1992)

Best Captain

Sourav Ganguly (81% Win Record)

Best Performance

I had to think long and hard about this particular category, because there was sufficient data to pick not just one, but four editions where the Blue Brigade have done remarkably well. They lifted the trophy twice, made it to the finals thrice and entered the penultimate stage five times.

It’s not easy to achieve such feats without putting in more than the usual hard labor; it’s about how desperately you want to win against all odds.

Given that desperation, India’s best performance came in the 2003 edition, when South Africa hosted the World Cup for the first time. After a scrappy win over the Dutch in their first outing and being thoroughly outplayed by defending champions Australia, multiple criticisms of the squad were made in various media outlets back home.

It prompted a very public vow from the peerless Sachin Tendulkar to fight on till the last ball, and it showed in their on-field performances as they won seven games in a row, including one against traditional foes Pakistan.

Despite losing the summit clash to the Kangaroos by a heavy margin, the consistency, aggressive ground-fielding by young turks Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif, & lion-hearted displays with both bat and ball won the admiration of many.

Total Matches Played






Win Percentage


Worst Performance

One would normally expect the disastrous outing in the Caribbean nearly eight years ago to be Team India’s worst show in the tournament’s history. While it definitely was a fiasco, I’d bracket it with the not-so impressive displays in 1975 and 1979 either; the memories of Sunil Gavaskar scoring at snail’s pace in pursuit of England’s 334 are still rather painful, while the winless outcome in the second edition was neither unexpected nor very welcome.

It was in 1992 that India delivered their worst ever performance on the world’s biggest stage. Disaster seemed to follow them after suffering a nine-run loss to the Poms in their first match, despite Ravi Shastri’s patient half century. A washout occurred in their game against Sri Lanka, pushing them back even further. Skipper Mohammad Azharuddin & Sanjay Manjrekar’s efforts went in vain in the next outing against the Aussies, as the South Asian powerhouse fell to a second loss.

Consolation wins came against Pakistan and Zimbabwe, but three more defeats at the hands of New Zealand, the West Indies and South Africa sent the 1983 champions hurtling out of the tournament in shame. This shambolic performance was enough to end the careers of a few veterans, although a precocious new talent was unearthed in the form of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, who would go on to dominate the world stage for the next twenty one years.

Total Matches Played






No Result


Win Percentage


Top Performers

I was tempted to restrict this list to just one name – Tendulkar. The Mumbai maestro has literally demolished every batting record in existence (save triple centuries in Test cricket), and in the World Cups too, he has stamped his authority completely.

If the 1996 World Cup saw him amass 523 runs, he smashed 673 runs seven years later in South Africa, with telling performances against Pakistan & England. The trophy still eluded his grasp on both occasions, until he finally claimed it with a 482-run performance in the 2011 edition.

With 2,278 runs made in seven versions of the ODI showpiece, one would naturally assume the Master Blaster to be the sole occupant of the top spot.

I found nine more key performers whose deeds have been immortalized in Indian cricketing lore. Some of these were extremely crucial to the team’s success, while for a couple of others, the agony of seeing the side falling at the last hurdle still haunts them at times.

And for one set of these valiant warriors, the ultimate ignominy is of being dumped from the squad for the 2015 edition.

Here are my top ten Indian performers at all World Cup tournaments since 1975:

  1. Sachin Tendulkar (482 runs – 2011 WC, 673 runs & 2 wickets – 2003 WC, 523 runs – 1996 WC)
  2. Rahul Dravid (461 runs – 1999 WC)
  3. Yuvraj Singh (362 runs & 15 wickets – 2011 WC)
  4. Zaheer Khan (21 wickets – 2011 WC)
  5. Roger Binny (18 wickets – 1983 WC)
  6. Gautam Gambhir (393 runs – 2011 WC)
  7. Mohammad Azharuddin (332 runs – 1992 WC)
  8. Kapil Dev (303 runs & 12 wickets – 1983 WC)
  9. Maninder Singh (14 wickets – 1987 WC)
  10. Anil Kumble (15 wickets – 1996 WC)
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