The Men’s Cricket World Cup began in 1975. It was called the ‘Prudential Cup’. This was the first mega-tournament in limited overs cricket. As many as eight teams (Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka and East Africa) participated in the first World Cup.
The first match was played on 7 June 1975 between India and England. This was a historic game but was made more memorable by Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar.
Also known as the “Little Master”, Gavaskar played the slowest knock of his ODI career, which became a major reason for India’s defeat in this game.
A huge target for India
India was part of Group A comprising New Zealand, England and East Africa. In the first match of the tournament itself, India were up against host England. After winning the toss, England captain Mike Denness elected to bat first – his decision turned out to be right.
In this 60-over-a-side contest, England batsmen put on a massive 334 runs on the scoreboard – a remarkable achievement in those days. Dennis Amiss top scored for the England team-scoring 137 runs in 147 balls. India needed 335 runs to win this contest.
Gavaskar played 138 dot balls
Eknath Solkar and Sunil Gavaskar came out to open the innings for India. Although Solkar departed after scoring just 8 runs, his opening partner Gavaskar held one end up even as wickets continued to tumble on the other end.
Gavaskar kept batting, taking all the time in the world.
Although Gavaskar couldn’t quite win the game for India, he registered a unique record. The veteran batsman scored 36 runs but played as many as 174 balls to get those runs. A total of 138 of these balls were dot deliveries.
Gavaskar’s slowest ODI innings, and that too at such an important tournament, received widespread criticism as India managed only 132 runs for the loss of 3 wickets after playing all the 60 overs, at no stage trying to push for a win.
Only one match won by India
S Venkataraghavan captained India in the first World Cup. India played three games – they lost a couple while registering their lone victory against East Africa by 10 wickets. Farokh Engineer was adjudged the Man of the Match in this game, thereby becoming the first ever Indian to get a Man of the Match award in a World Cup game.
West Indies lift the Cup
It was West Indies versus Australia in the finals, in which the Caribbean side defeated the Aussies by 17 runs to lift the first Men’s World Cup.
There have been 11 champions in the World Cup ever since –