With the 2019 World Cup about to start, we take a trip down memory lane and look at some of the iconic players to have defined eras and earned the title of legends.
From Kapil Dev to Virat Kohli, Sir Viv Richards to Andre Russell and Allan Border to David Warner, the cricketing world has seen some special players create history, raise the bar and then pass the torch to the next superstar.
As we build up to the World Cup, we celebrate those flag-bearers of greatness. Here, we have picked four players from India who have left their mark.
Kapil Dev [1978-1994]
The greatest and most decorated all-rounder in Indian history, Kapil Dev holds a special place in the hearts of all Indian fans. The all-rounder led India to its first World Cup title in 1983, playing a crucial role in the process.
He was the leading run-getter for India and fifth overall. The carnage with the bat accompanied some fierce bowling, as he managed to pick up 12 wickets in the tournament.
Known for his lethal out-swinging deliveries and gutsy cameos with the bat in the lower middle-order, Kapil gave the entire subcontinent belief at the world stage. In 1994, he retired as Test cricket’s highest wicket-taker.
1983 World Cup
Economy rate: 2.91
Iconic World Cup innings: 175* v Zimbabwe (1983)
In a must-win game in the 1983 World Cup, India were reeling at 17-5, having lost openers Sunil Gavaskar and K Srikkanth for ducks. Dev stepped in to hit one of the best innings in a World Cup game, smashing 175 runs from just 138 balls. This helped India register a total of 266, which they defended, thanks to a solid bowling performance by Madan Lal and Roger Binny.
Sachin Tendulkar [1989-2013]
“Master Blaster” Sachin Tendulkar is one of the greatest cricketers of all time, if not the best ever. Until 2011, a World Cup was the only missing feather in his glorious cap.
India came close in the 2003 World Cup, with Tendulkar playing a key role with the bat. But Ricky Ponting’s iconic Australian side brushed India aside in the final to defend their title. The Mumbaikar was the Man of the Tournament but the trophy he yearned was beyond his reach.
In 2011, Tendulkar was once again the leading run-getter for India and this time his team ensured the master finally got to lift the coveted trophy.
2003 World Cup
Iconic World Cup innings: 98 v Pakistan (2003)
The stage was set at Centurion for one of the biggest encounters in world cricket – India locking horns with Pakistan in a World Cup tie. Tasked to chase 274, India got off to a solid start and a tremendous innings from Tendulkar ensured that they got the better of their rivals in the group stage game. The opener fell just short of a deserved century but with 12 fours and one six en route to his 98, he led India’s run-chase in style.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni [2004-present]
“Captain Cool” will go down as one of the best captains in India’s history. The ever calm and composed wicket-keeper batsman led India to World Cup glory in 2011 at home, thus ending a 28-year wait for the biggest trophy in cricket.
Known for his composed approach in the face of adversity, lightning quick gloves and power-packed hitting, Dhoni is among the World Cup’s elites.
In the 2019 World Cup, Dhoni will play under captain Virat Kohli, symbolising the passing of the torch as he continues to pull strings from behind the stumps.
2011 World Cup
Iconic World Cup innings: 91* against Sri Lanka (final, 2011)
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. India did not get to the best of starts while chasing Sri Lanka’s total of 274. Openers Virender Sehwag and Tendulkar were sent packing as India found themselves at 31-2. Dhoni promoted himself up the order, ahead of the in-form Yuvraj Singh in what later turned out to be a masterstroke. The skipper got to the crease at 114-3 and guided India to the summit with a captain’s knock of 91 runs from 79 balls.
Virat Kohli (2008-present)
On February 19, 2011, Kohli became the first Indian player to score a century on World Cup debut. This majestic performance against Bangladesh was followed by rather underwhelming ones, before he concluded with a crucial 35 (49) against Sri Lanka in the final, forming a steady partnership with Gautam Gambhir.
The aggressive top-order batsman has since established himself as the best of this generation. His 2015 World Cup campaign contained promise, but lacked content after he failed to top his century against Pakistan in the opener.
Kohli will now play his third World Cup and will have the weight of a billion expectations on his shoulders.
2011 & 2015 World Cup
Iconic World Cup innings: 107 v Pakistan (2015)
Yet again, India got the better of their rivals in a World Cup game thanks to a dominating performance from Kohli.
Kohli scored 107 runs from 126 balls to help his team reach a commanding total of 300 runs, which they had no problems defending.
Four times have South Africa failed at the semi-final hurdle with the latest of them coming in the 2015 edition, where they fell to an agonising defeat at the hands of co-hosts New Zealand.
From the dramatic loss to Australia in the semi-final of the 1999 World Cup to being hard done by the Duckworth-Lewis (DLS) method in 1992, South Africa have a history of making a hash of the competition despite the prodigious talents at their disposal.
The current crop led by skipper Faf du Plessis is not short of talent themselves with the Proteas coming into the 2019 ICC World Cup on the back of some impressive results in the 50-over format.
Since their disappointing campaign in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy in England, South Africa have only been beaten once in any bilateral ODI series. Apart from India who prevailed 6-1, South Africa have notched convincing wins over Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in that period.
Shedding their tag of ‘chokers’ and advancing to their maiden World Cup final will be top of the agenda for du Plessis’ men in England.
Record: Semi-final 1992, 1999, 2007 and 2015
Squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, JP Duminy, Dwaine Pretorius, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Chris Morris, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi.
Strength: Pace battery. In Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi, the Proteas have one of the most fearsome pace arsenals at the World Cup. Rabada is coming off a stupendous IPL campaign while veteran Steyn will be desperate to perform in what is surely his final World Cup.
Weakness: Stalwart Hashim Amla is struggling for form in all three formats with an average of just 16.25 in his last 12 innings across all competitions. With AB de Villiers no more a part of the international setup, the Proteas need Amla back at his best at the top.
Man to watch: Veteran leg-spinner Imran Tahir is showing no signs of slowing down with age. Tahir has been in sensational form for CSK in the IPL this year and will be expected to do plenty of damage in England with wrist-spinners set to play a massive role in the World Cup.
Surprise Package: Rassie van der Dussen has had an excellent start to his international career with a batting average of over 88 after nine ODIs. He could turn out to be the replacement South Africa need down the order for De Villiers.
They might not be the unstoppable force they once were in international cricket but there is plenty to be excited about for two-times champions West Indies as they get ready to embark on their 12th ICC World Cup campaign.
The Caribbean side qualified for the 2019 edition in England by the skin of their teeth after failing to gain an automatic spot in the 10-team competition, but have shown plenty of positive signs of late in the limited-overs formats.
With a squad brimming with T20 franchise league stalwarts, the Windies are more than capable of beating any side on their day.
On paper, West Indies have failed to record a single bilateral series win in the ODI format since 2014 when they whitewashed Bangladesh by 3-0 at home.
Five years is a long wait for a bilateral series win and it is no surprise that they are ranked eighth in the format currently. However, the return of T20 kingpins Chris Gayle and Andre Russell to the ODI side has changed the complexion of the team entirely.
They gave No1 ranked England a scare in the drawn 2-2 series in February this year and it would be foolish for any opposition to discount their threat.
Record: Champions 1975 and 1979
Squad: Jason Holder (c), Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Ashley Nurse, Fabian Allen, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope (wk), Oshane Thomas, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Evin Lewis.
Strength: Definitely the batting. In Gayle and Russell, Windies have some of the cleanest and biggest hitters of the cricket ball who are difficult to stop when they get stuck in. Add in the likes of Evin Lewis, Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer in the mix and the side possesses the capability to blow any bowling attack away.
Weakness: It doesn’t look the most frightening of bowling attacks, with the side placing their trust in Test stalwarts Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach to lead the line. The lack of a single wrist-spinner is also worrying.
One to watch: While Gayle will be keen to sign off in style in his last Windies hurrah, Andre Russell is coming into the tournament on the back of a monstrous IPL 2019 campaign where he struck a total of 52 sixes in 14 matches while also picking up 11 wickets.
Surprise package: While Gayle and Russell are drawing all the attention, newly promoted vice-captain Shai Hope has become one of the most consistent performers for the team. A batting average of nearly 50 after 52 ODI appearances along with six tons is no mean feat and Hope’s form has only been getting better.
Prediction: Group Stage