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ICC Men's Cricket World Cup
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Schedule delay leaves World Cup without buzz five months out

Reuters
May 11, 2023

NEW DELHI: With the match schedule still under wraps and the main title contenders preoccupied with test cricket, there is a distinct lack of buzz around the 50-overs World Cup five months out from its expected start in October.

The governing International Cricket Council (ICC) has said the dates and venues for the 13th edition of the showpiece tournament would be out in “due course” and the host Indian board maintains the same.

“The discussion with the ICC is going on and we’ll soon announce the dates and venues,” a senior official at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said.

That would come only after the Indian Premier League (IPL) concludes on May 28, according to media reports in India.

While the lack of information, which is unusual for a major sporting event, might be annoying for fans planning to travel to India it is unlikely to impact too match on the preparations of the eight teams already qualified.

England, who hold both white-ball World Cups, are the dominant force in short-format cricket even if their immediate focus is on reclaiming the Ashes from Australia in the test series beginning next month.

Jofra Archer is a doubt for that series because of a nagging elbow injury and white-ball captain Jos Buttler will be hoping the speedster is back to full fitness before the World Cup.

The reigning champions have also left the door open for Ben Stokes to return to the one-day fold if the all-rounder, the hero of the 2019 final, reconsiders his shock ODI retirement.

England’s laboured 2-1 ODI series win in Bangladesh in March was followed by a shock 3-0 submission in the Twenty20 leg of that tour, which will have erased any trace of complacency.

India won the World Cup last time they hosted the tournament in 2011 but Rohit Sharma’s side do not have a settled look.

Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah has been sidelined since September last year with a back injury and is missing the IPL as well as next month’s World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia.

Stumper-batsman Rishabh Pant is likely to miss the World Cup as he continues to recover from multiple injuries sustained in a horrific car crash last December.

Familiar conditions

Five-time champions Australia are also preoccupied with the WTC final at the Oval, which will be followed quickly by the Ashes.

Pat Cummins and his men toured India earlier this year, losing the test series but prevailing in the one-dayers.

With 14 Australian cricketers, including several frontline players, involved in the IPL, at least the conditions will look familiar when they return for the World Cup.

Among the other hopefuls, New Zealand, who lost the 2019 final on boundary count, are almost certain to be without Kane Williamson after the skipper suffered a serious knee injury in the ongoing IPL.

Williamson’s absence would make it the first ODI World Cup where not a single team returns with the same captain as they had in the previous edition.

While their best batsman may still travel as a team mentor, Tom Latham is likely to lead New Zealand ahead of test skipper Tim Southee.

“That’s something that still needs to be worked out,” coach Gary Stead said on Tuesday.

“Tim’s captain in the test team as well, but Tom’s had a lot of white-ball experience for us in the past.”

Former champions Pakistan have grounds for optimism after their top order and pace attack fired them to a 4-1 series victory over a weakened New Zealand earlier this month.

Pakistan briefly held the number one ODI ranking during the series and skipper Babar Azam currently leads the batting rankings with team mates Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq also in the top four.

“Winning the series is great and so is achieving number one ranking that has set us in a good position for the World Cup,” Babar said.

South Africa claimed the last direct qualification spot but former champions West Indies and Sri Lanka will compete with eight other teams for the remaining two slots for the tournament in India.


 
.,.,.
ICC Men's Cricket World Cup
..

Schedule delay leaves World Cup without buzz five months out

Reuters
May 11, 2023

NEW DELHI: With the match schedule still under wraps and the main title contenders preoccupied with test cricket, there is a distinct lack of buzz around the 50-overs World Cup five months out from its expected start in October.

The governing International Cricket Council (ICC) has said the dates and venues for the 13th edition of the showpiece tournament would be out in “due course” and the host Indian board maintains the same.

“The discussion with the ICC is going on and we’ll soon announce the dates and venues,” a senior official at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said.

That would come only after the Indian Premier League (IPL) concludes on May 28, according to media reports in India.

While the lack of information, which is unusual for a major sporting event, might be annoying for fans planning to travel to India it is unlikely to impact too match on the preparations of the eight teams already qualified.

England, who hold both white-ball World Cups, are the dominant force in short-format cricket even if their immediate focus is on reclaiming the Ashes from Australia in the test series beginning next month.

Jofra Archer is a doubt for that series because of a nagging elbow injury and white-ball captain Jos Buttler will be hoping the speedster is back to full fitness before the World Cup.

The reigning champions have also left the door open for Ben Stokes to return to the one-day fold if the all-rounder, the hero of the 2019 final, reconsiders his shock ODI retirement.

England’s laboured 2-1 ODI series win in Bangladesh in March was followed by a shock 3-0 submission in the Twenty20 leg of that tour, which will have erased any trace of complacency.

India won the World Cup last time they hosted the tournament in 2011 but Rohit Sharma’s side do not have a settled look.

Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah has been sidelined since September last year with a back injury and is missing the IPL as well as next month’s World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia.

Stumper-batsman Rishabh Pant is likely to miss the World Cup as he continues to recover from multiple injuries sustained in a horrific car crash last December.

Familiar conditions

Five-time champions Australia are also preoccupied with the WTC final at the Oval, which will be followed quickly by the Ashes.

Pat Cummins and his men toured India earlier this year, losing the test series but prevailing in the one-dayers.

With 14 Australian cricketers, including several frontline players, involved in the IPL, at least the conditions will look familiar when they return for the World Cup.

Among the other hopefuls, New Zealand, who lost the 2019 final on boundary count, are almost certain to be without Kane Williamson after the skipper suffered a serious knee injury in the ongoing IPL.

Williamson’s absence would make it the first ODI World Cup where not a single team returns with the same captain as they had in the previous edition.

While their best batsman may still travel as a team mentor, Tom Latham is likely to lead New Zealand ahead of test skipper Tim Southee.

“That’s something that still needs to be worked out,” coach Gary Stead said on Tuesday.

“Tim’s captain in the test team as well, but Tom’s had a lot of white-ball experience for us in the past.”

Former champions Pakistan have grounds for optimism after their top order and pace attack fired them to a 4-1 series victory over a weakened New Zealand earlier this month.

Pakistan briefly held the number one ODI ranking during the series and skipper Babar Azam currently leads the batting rankings with team mates Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq also in the top four.

“Winning the series is great and so is achieving number one ranking that has set us in a good position for the World Cup,” Babar said.

South Africa claimed the last direct qualification spot but former champions West Indies and Sri Lanka will compete with eight other teams for the remaining two slots for the tournament in India.



I think scheduled has roll out, only venues are not disclosed with specific time table
 
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PCB unveils Pakistan team kit for World Cup 2023

Imran Siddique
August 28, 2023


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The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Monday unveiled the national team’s official kit for the World Cup 2023 at a ceremony at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

The World Cup is scheduled to take place from Oct 5 to Nov 19 in India. Pakistan’s opening match in the tournament is set for Oct 6 against the Netherlands in Hyderabad, while the highly anticipated match against arch-rivals India will take place in Ahmedabad on Oct 14.

In a press release issued on Monday, Zaka Ashraf, head of the PCB Management Committee, termed the unveiling of the kit a “momentous stride” forward as the national team gears up for the upcoming mega event.

Dubbed the “Star Nation Jersey,” the PCB emphasised that the official kit holds significance beyond being just a piece of apparel.

According to the press release, the jersey embodies the “profound connection between Pakistan’s cricketing heroes and their steadfast supporters”.

Drawing inspiration from “celestial bodies, each star symbolises brilliance, aspiration, and the radiant glow” of the achievements of the number one ranked One Day International (ODI) team, the statement said.

“This design philosophy encapsulates the spirit of cricketing excellence, resonating deeply with every Pakistani cricket enthusiast,” it added.

The PCB statement quoted Ashraf as saying that the jersey bore witness to the bond between the cricketers and their fans who had supported the national outfit in every game.


“This jersey encapsulates our rich cricketing heritage and the luminous future that awaits,” Zaka added.

Road to World Cup​

Pakistan’s participation in the tournament was first put in doubt following a row over the hosting of the Asia Cup, for which India had refused to send its cricket team to the country.

In turn, Pakistan had made its cricket team’s visit to India for World Cup conditional on the Indian team’s visit to the neighbouring country for the Asia Cup.

A truce was eventually called after Pakistan agreed to host the Asia Cup in September on the basis of a hybrid model.

Then in June this year, after the schedule for the World Cup was announced, the Pakistan Cricket Board said that it would still need government clearance for any tour to India, including World Cup match venues.

Later in a statement, released by the foreign office on August 6, the government approved sending the cricket team to India to participate in the World Cup, maintaining that Pakistan has always believed: “sports should not be mixed with politics”.
 
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‘India-Pakistan World Cup match tickets sold out within hour’

Agencies
August 31, 2023

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NEW DELHI: Tickets for the marquee World Cup clash between India and Pakistan in Ahmedabad on Oct 14 were sold out within an hour after the International Cricket Council’s ticketing partner opened its exclusive pre-sale window, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported on Wednesday.

While there will be another round of general sale for the India-Pakistan match on Sept 3, there is a chance that there would be a complete sell-out within hours, like it happened on Tuesday for all the Mastercard holders.

It couldn’t be confirmed as to how many tickets were put online during the pre-sale window for all India matches and the warm-up games but it has been learnt that, after the sales opened at 6:00pm (IST), within an hour, all tickets on the day were exhausted.

The website ‘Book My Show’ — the ICC’s ticketing partner — put a “Sold Out” caption on the Pakistan game, which wasn’t the case for the other eight India games.

“Today it was only for those who owned a Mastercard (credit or debit, India and international),” a Board of Control for Cricket India source privy to the development told PTI on the condition of anonymity. “Only two tickets per person was allotted and naturally, the tickets put on pre-sale were bought by fans within an hour.

“However it is expected that another round will happen on Sept 3. The best part is that the Narendra Modi Stadium has 132,000 capacity, so reasonable number of the tickets could be expected to be put on sale on Sept 3.”

The ICC is allowing only two tickets to be booked per person for all-India games along with the semi-final and the final while for non-India games, four tickets per person could be booked.
 
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ICC Men's World Cup 2023 - fixtures, results & scorecards​

From the section Cricket

The ICC Men's Cricket World Cup trophy

BBC

October

5
England v New Zealand, Ahmedabad (d/n) (09:30 BST)

6 Pakistan v Netherlands, Hyderabad (d/n) (09:30 BST)

7 Bangladesh v Afghanistan, Dharamsala (06:00 BST)

7 South Africa v Sri Lanka, Delhi (d/n) (09:30 BST)

8 India v Australia, Chennai (d/n) (09:30 BST)

9 New Zealand v Netherlands, Hyderabad (d/n) (09:30 BST)

10 England v Bangladesh, Dharamsala (06:00 BST)

10 Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Hyderabad (d/n) (09:30 BST)

11 India v Afghanistan, Delhi (d/n) (09:30 BST)

12 Australia v South Africa, Lucknow (d/n) (09:30 BST)

13 New Zealand v Bangladesh, Chennai (d/n) (09:30 BST)

14 India v Pakistan, Ahmedabad (d/n) (09:30 BST)

15 England v Afghanistan, Delhi (d/n) (09:30 BST)

16 Australia v Sri Lanka, Lucknow (d/n) (09:30 BST)

17 South Africa v Netherlands, Dharamsala (d/n) (09:30 BST)

18 New Zealand v Afghanistan, Chennai (d/n) (09:30 BST)

19 India v Bangladesh, Pune (d/n) (09:30 BST)

20 Australia v Pakistan, Bangalore (d/n) (09:30 BST)

21 Netherlands v Sri Lanka, Lucknow (06:00 BST)

21 England v South Africa, Mumbai (d/n) (09:30 BST)

22 India v New Zealand, Dharamsala (d/n) (09:30 BST)

23 Pakistan v Afghanistan, Chennai (d/n) (09:30 BST)

24 South Africa v Bangladesh, Mumbai (d/n) (09:30 BST)

25 Australia v Netherlands, Delhi (d/n) (09:30 BST)

26 England v Sri Lanka, Bangalore (d/n) (09:30 BST)

27 Pakistan v South Africa, Chennai (d/n) (09:30 BST)

28 Australia v New Zealand, Dharamsala (06:00 BST)

28 Netherlands v Bangladesh, Kolkata (d/n) (09:30 BST)

29 India v England, Lucknow (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

30 Afghanistan v Sri Lanka, Pune (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

31 Pakistan v Bangladesh, Kolkata (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

November

1
New Zealand v South Africa, Pune (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

2 India v Sri Lanka, Mumbai (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

3 Netherlands v Afghanistan, Lucknow (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

4 New Zealand v Pakistan, Bangalore (05:00 GMT)

4 England v Australia, Ahmedabad (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

5 India v South Africa, Kolkata (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

6 Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, Delhi (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

7 Australia v Afghanistan, Mumbai (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

8 England v Netherlands, Pune (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

9 New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Bangalore (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

10 South Africa v Afghanistan, Ahmedabad (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

11 Australia v Bangladesh, Pune (05:00 GMT)

11 England v Pakistan, Kolkata (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

12 India v Netherlands, Bangalore (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

15 *First semi-final, Mumbai (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

16 *Second semi-final, Kolkata (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

19 *Final, Ahmedabad (d/n) (08:30 GMT)

*Match has reserve day


NB Fixtures and start times are subject to change. The BBC is not responsible for any changes that may be made
 
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STANDINGS​

GROUP STAGE​

POSTEAMPLAYEDWONLOSTN/RTIEDNET RRPOINTS
1Afghanistan00000+0.0000
2Australia00000+0.0000
3Bangladesh00000+0.0000
4England00000+0.0000
5India00000+0.0000
6Netherlands00000+0.0000
7New Zealand00000+0.0000
8Pakistan00000+0.0000
9South Africa00000+0.0000
10Sri Lanka00000+0.0000
 
Never seen more cringe worthy song, embarrassing not to have even something decent. Whatever event, we have bollywood idiots dancing and gyrating to ridiculous lyrics.
I fully expect the opening ceremony to be another uncouth, vulgar bollywood tamasha.

This was in 2015, the present version looks like a utter pile of garbage compared to this one.

 
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From Lahore to Madras at the 1996 World Cup, in cargo planes, delayed trains and on elephants​

A look back at favourite World Cups: this time, the thrills and spills of the subcontinent

MARK NICHOLAS
SEPTEMBER 20, 2023

Ah, the 1996 World Cup. That was something. Chaos often reigned, characters thankfully shone, and underdogs did things that only a short time previously would have seemed impossible, even to them. Across five memorable weeks, the bewildering and the beguiling; the controversial and the constructive; the surprising and the satisfying chased us around three countries - India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - whose honour it was to host the tournament and whose operational skills were tested to the limit by events and circumstance that frequently beggared belief. There were planes, trains, automobiles and elephants; red forts, pink cities and marble palaces; tuk-tuks, rickshaws and the roar of 1200cc engines in towns and villages that barely knew such powerful means of transport existed.

There was Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath; Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh; Jacques Kallis, Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock. And there was Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda de Silva, and a tight group of Sri Lankans who outwitted the rest. Imran Khan, the winner in 1992, graced the final with his new wife Jemima, of Goldsmith stock. Richie Benaud, Tony Greig and Ian Chappell brought the Channel Nine legend with them and graced the commentary boxes of lands entrenched in the game of cricket.

Mark Mascarenhas, the Harvard-educated Indian entrepreneur, whose WorldTel business managed Tendulkar's commercial affairs, had bid US$10 million for the television rights, and to some astonishment, was awarded them with barely a murmur. Almost immediately Sky New Zealand offered him three million for their piece of the action and Mascarenhas knew he was onto something. Sure, 1996 is 27 years ago, but $10 million? That's more heist than coup. Mascarenhas was a larger-than-life character, tragically killed in a car accident in 2002. For six weeks in the early part of 1996, he ruled the game's roost, ramped up the television coverage, and spread his great sense of optimism and commercial possibility on a game that, in the subcontinent at least, was still finding its feet. I loved him because he gave me a gig.

This World Cup was my second big break in broadcasting. The first had come six months earlier, when I began a three-year deal with Sky in the UK. Following England's tour of South Africa, the Sky crew moved on to Zimbabwe, where, on a visit to the Streak family farm near Bulawayo - the home of Denis and his son Heath - I received a call from the executive producer of the tournament, Gary Franses. It was a bad line but a simple message. "Yes please!" I replied before he had finished inviting me to work with WorldTel on ten games in different parts of India and Sri Lanka. I was beyond excitement and hurried back to Harare for my flight to Mumbai.

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Mascarenhas had laid on a private jet for Greig, Benaud and Chappell and it didn't turn up, so they took the train from Gwalior to Visakhapatnam. Greigy came on air 45 minutes after the start, as if nothing had happened

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Friday, February 9, 1996
Mumbai's international airport was packed and chaotic at 2am - a vignette of India. The flight was painless but the wait at customs not so. Eventually, I was called to an officer who asked me to open my luggage before enquiring about the purpose of my visit. "World Cup," I proudly answered. He looked up in astonishment. "Vills Vorld Cup?" "Absolutely." Wills cigarettes were the sponsors. He was thrilled, zipped up my suitcase and asked for my autograph.

I had a few hours to kill before connecting to Kolkata for the opening ceremony and bumped into Mike Gatting and David Shepherd. A couple of beers later we were checking in for Indian Airlines 936, and we landed on the other side of the country at 8am. By 8.40, a plethora of taxi drivers had offered us a ride into town. That journey through the smog-filled sprawl was unique: essential India. The 1950 Ambassador Nova hustled past colonial reminders - the Tollygunge Club and the Victoria Memorial - before stuttering past the vast expanse of the maidan to our left, already sprinkled with cricket matches, and swinging right into the splendid Oberoi Hotel. How these commentators live!

Sunday, February 11
An emotive and unpleasant press conference, which I attended on behalf of London's Daily Telegraph. The PILCOM (Pakistan-India-Sri Lanka Organising Committee) were on edge after Australia and West Indies refused to play in Sri Lanka because of a bomb explosion a week earlier in Colombo. No compromise could be reached and the points were forfeited.

As if that wasn't enough, the evening's opening ceremony was a shambles. The much hyped laser show fell flat and the presenter mistook many of the teams for one another - at one stage he asked the West Indian players to wave at the 110,000-strong crowd to prove they were Zimbabweans. Two million dollars it cost, which was hard to take, having seen homeless people live in the underbelly of the Howrah Bridge.

Wednesday, February 14
The press corps left the Oberoi at 4.30am on Monday morning and arrived in Ahmedabad after nine at night. Nice preparation for a World Cup match, said England's manager, Ray Illingworth. Same for both sides, said PILCOM. I was upgraded to business class, courtesy of the Wills World Cup badge on my blazer. This thing was currency and that blazer was front and centre of every trip I made from Kolkata to Colombo and Jaipur to Lahore. As it was, England, who dropped a few catches, had their feathers ruffled by a feisty New Zealand, and on this first showing of the two teams, you'd have backed the Black Caps to go deeper in the tournament than Mike Atherton's outdated-looking team.

Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga was never less than confident about his team's chances of winning the World Cup

Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga was never less than confident about his team's chances of winning the World Cup Zafar Ahmed / © Associated Press
Friday, February 16
To Hyderabad, the home of the biryani and, my notes of the time remind me, of Mohammad Azharuddin, who had upped sticks to Mumbai and moved in with the actor Sangeeta Bijlani. Azhar was captain of India and the one Muslim in the team. Thus, he created quite a stir.

Hyderabad was also the home of Sports Coaching Foundation, which housed the only bowling machine in India - a bit odd, given they had been on the market since the early 1980s. The academy had floodlights, Astroturf and sightscreens that switched between black and white. There were 12 coaches, psychologists and nutritional experts. Its purpose was to train six-to-16-year-old boys in the fundamentals of technique and approach - a eagerly awaited mirror of the academy in Australia, which had been much in the news. Looking back to that time is a reminder of the distance Indian cricket has come.

That night I met John Hampshire, coach of Zimbabwe, and Wes Hall, manager of West Indies, in the bar. Two great fellows who, in different ways, played a part in my life. I represented MCC in East Africa with Hampshire in 1983 and Hampshire's hard-nosed Yorkshire take on our performances made for a good listen. In 1999, I gave the eulogy at Malcolm Marshall's funeral in Barbados with Hall, the charismatic fast bowler, who was a man of the church by then and a superb orator. "Malcolm Denzil Marshall was the greatest fast bowler who ever lived," he began, "and the reason I can tell you this with absolute certainty is that the only thing Wesley Hall truly knows about is faaaast bowling!"

I digress. Wes said the pundits had written off West Indies. On the viewing that day against Zimbabwe, I wasn't among them.

Saturday, February 17
I arrived in Colombo with Michael Henderson from the Times. We were excited about our visit to this troubled but utterly beautiful land. No cars were allowed within half a mile of the airport terminals, which made our exit comfortable and airy but confusing too. I've no recollection of how we were met and taken to our hotels. I went straight to the Premadasa Stadium, where the Sri Lankan team were making a symbolic appearance in lieu of the Australia match being abandoned, but I missed both the players and whatever spectators came to cheer them. The empty concrete stands echoed loudly with the silence.

quote_top_bdr.png


The Ilyushin hit the 50-metre runway with shattering force and the jets roared into a deafening reverse thrust. Equipment and humans were thrown everywhere. The tyres smelt of deep burn. We made it, just

quote_btm_bdr.png


Wednesday, February 21
Zimbabwe arrived late the previous day, played on Wednesday and were to leave on Thursday. Their cricketers would have seen nothing of this island by then: its plantations and paddy fields, beaches and temples, never mind the people, who sparkled, whatever the heartbreak of civil war.

In the match, Sri Lanka hammered the Zimbabweans. After the immediate loss of the pinch-hit boys - Romesh Kaluwitharana and Sanath Jayasuriya - Asanka Gurusinha belied his reputation for a straight face and smashed half a dozen sixes, which was one less than the World Cup record held by Viv Richards.

Friday, February 23
Morning: I tune in to watch Australia play Kenya and find Michael Slater, a member of the Aussie squad, doing the pitch report, and a cub sports reporter from Channel Nine in Sydney hosting the telecast. It transpires that Mascarenhas had laid on a private jet for Greig, Benaud and Chappell, but it didn't turn up, so they got the train from Gwalior to Visakhapatnam, which took all night and more. Greigy came on air 45 minutes after the start of the game as if nothing had happened.

Evening: This was the dinner that opened my eyes to another world. Ranatunga and the Sri Lanka coach, Dav Whatmore, took me to Beach Wadiya, a sand-between-your-toes seafood restaurant across the railway line on the way out of town, at which I was to eat four of my next six meals. Gorging on chilli crab and huge tiger prawns, I listened to their plans and marvelled at their confidence. Ranatunga was damn certain that Sri Lanka could win it. He explained each of his own players' roles, knew the strengths and weaknesses of every opponent, and predicted the pattern of various matches. He was sure a team from the subcontinent would win. I suggested Australia but he said, tongue in cheek, that neutral umpires put paid to their chances. He left early to rise at 4am the next morning and drive inland for a Buddhist blessing. The owner of the restaurant showed us his visitors' book with autographs and pictures of Princess Anne and Richard Branson logged alongside Phil Tufnell. He asked me back for lunch the next day, and dinner and lunch. So I went.

Tuesday, February 27
At last, a game to set the pulse racing. The revamped Wankhede Stadium sparkled under new floodlights and India's and Australia's players put on a show. Australia won by 16. Mark Waugh eased his way to a hundred and then knocked over Tendulkar with an offbreak. Lucky he did because Sachin had 90 in quick time and was winning the game. The best batters I saw as a kid were Garry Sobers, Viv Richards, Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards and Greg Chappell. Two in this tournament matched them - Tendulkar and Lara. Mark Waugh comfortably matched them in the aesthetic if not quite in the substance.

Richie Benaud and Ian Chappell: two of the big names in the World Cup commentary booth in 1996

Richie Benaud and Ian Chappell: two of the big names in the World Cup commentary booth in 1996 © Mark Ray
Thursday, February 29
Shock, horror. Kenya beat West Indies. I could only imagine Wes Hall in that dressing room. I could easily imagine the Kenyan dressing room.

Meantime, South Africa withstood Pakistan, and I withstood a flight to Nagpur sitting with Greig and Ian Chappell (yup, another upgrade) whose contrasting views on the game made for good copy.

Saturday, March 2
We left Nagpur soon after 10am on an Ilyushin 76, a huge airbus out of Ukraine that was transporting 9.5 tonnes of television gear from venue to venue. It had a cockpit for the pilot and two more for the gunmen. Inside was a dark and empty steel shell, exposed wires and cables, melting rubber tyres, vast static generators, ladders, cameras, and masses of computer kit. We could not help but think the previous cargo might have been Kalashnikovs and the last flight went to Afghanistan. Fifty of us sat quietly on metal: no seats, just metal benches and tired seatbelts. We swatted at mosquitos. Chappell slept atop a mountain of TV kit; Benaud clung on, white-knuckled. A video operator threw up.

Greig had gone ahead to Delhi to sing songs of praise for the Sri Lankans, who cruised past India's big score with an electric batting display. This time the pinch-hit boys had their say, and Ranatunga's forecast was looking ever more likely.

After two hours, the Ilyushin hit the 50-metre runway with shattering force and the jets roared into a deafening reverse thrust. Equipment and humans were thrown everywhere. The tyres smelt of deep burn. We made it - just. There were weak smiles all round as we climbed onto terra firma, damp from sweat and to be damper still from the drizzle. Looking back, it was kinda fun but it sure wouldn't happen today.

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Ranatunga was damn certain that Sri Lanka could win it. He explained each of his own player's roles, knew the strengths and weaknesses of every opponent, and predicted the pattern of various matches. He was sure a team from the subcontinent would win

quote_btm_bdr.png


Sunday, March 3
Beautiful Jaipur, the city built from pink sandstone, and what isn't is painted pink.

Richie Benaud was filming "pretties" and promos on an elephant that climbed the hill into the Pink City as he talked to the camera about its long and fabled history. Turned out he didn't much like the ride, so I jumped on for the journey down and he grabbed a tuk-tuk.

I had my first appointment with the commentary-box heavies the next day in Jaipur for the Australia-West Indies game: Benaud, Chappell, Greig, Michael Holding and Sunny Gavaskar. I was too nervous to enter the room until Peter Roebuck wandered by, enquired as to my loitering, and told me to stop being a wuss.

It was a great thrill to be in there: boyhood heroes and all that. I did lead commentary and various of the others provided expert summary. Right way round, I guess. Everyone was dialled in to the West Indian response to defeat by Kenya. Apparently, Wes and Andy Roberts had read the team the riot act. The big question was who was running with the captain, Richie Richardson, and who wasn't? The message was that those who weren't could "eff off". Richie played a brave and skilful innings to see his team home and looked shot afterwards. One couldn't help but wonder how much he had left in the tank.

Tuesday, March 5
Arrggghh man! The night train to Kanpur is delayed five hours. I sleep on the platform. Flights to Kanpur were complicated but I now regret not exploring them further. Big mistake. I slip the guard 20 quid and whoosh, up I fly into first class. With a rat. The guard brings me Super-Killem pesticide. No luck. Nor with my right boot. No good. No sleep. I arrive in Kanpur 12 hours late and Ian Chappell introduces me on air as "… Mark Nicholas, who's been in the business five minutes and only works half-days."

Steve Waugh and Paul Reiffel ride an elephant at Amber Fort, Jaipur, during the World Cup

Steve Waugh and Paul Reiffel ride an elephant at Amber Fort, Jaipur, during the World Cup © Getty Images
Thursday, March 7
The Lara factor. Brian is getting some stick for talking behind the players' backs about indiscipline, lack of talent, no spirit, and bad management. Lara is now a target and former players are weighing in. Richardson thinks it a "malicious and sad" piece of journalism and says he spent the previous night with Lara and they had not talked about it. In fact, Richie said Brian was utterly committed to winning the World Cup.

Richie had other things on his mind, having announced his retirement to take effect after the tournament. Meantime, Andy Roberts was sacked. I kid you not. Sacked during the tournament. Nice timing Richie - get 'em before they get you.

Saturday, March 9
It's quarter-final time. England are out - quite hopeless really. Sri Lanka tear them apart.

In Bangalore, and thanks to a blistering assault by Ajay Jadeja on Waqar Younis, India triumph over Pakistan against the odds. The teams had only played each other in neutral venues for the last seven years, and the occasion lives up to the billing. A vibrant and hugely patriotic crowd went ballistic in celebration. Akram will not have been popular at home. He pulled out of the game shortly before the toss.

Elsewhere at around time, after a gruelling week, Lara played an innings against South Africa for the ages to silence the critics. The audacity and flourish in his batting made for compelling viewing, and the hundred came in just 83 balls. The South Africans, professional to the end, simply could not resist this force of nature and looked in shock by the end. Richie Richardson, in contrast, lives on.

I was in Madras for the Australia-New Zealand quarter-final, which had some stupendous batting from Chris Harris that was first matched and then bettered by Mark Waugh. In a high-scoring game that appeared to be in the hands of the Kiwis, the Australians found a way, as is their wont.

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The night train to Kanpur is delayed five hours. I arrive 12 hours late and Ian Chappell introduces me on air as "… Mark Nicholas, who's been in the business five minutes and only works half-days"
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Tuesday, March 12
A 5.30am flight to Delhi, then a day-long wait for the train to Chandigarh. I hadn't managed to get to the Taj Mahal, which was infuriating. Instead, I wandered the bright bazaars of Old Delhi, which nestle beneath the Red Fort. I watched any number of pick-up cricket games that were enthusiastically played in gallis, amid rickshaws, bikers, cyclists, hawkers and cows.

At the station, I climbed into a tight seat next to a woman and a boy, who suddenly threw up. Perhaps it's me. Anyway, I leapt off the train as it pulled out of the station and thought, right, what now? Where to find a bed and a beer? I headed to the British High Commission and asked for help. Incredibly, there was an old mate, who was on the High Commission council, who listened to my story and offered me his Land Cruiser and driver. Now that, folks, is falling down a drainpipe and coming up with a Mars bar in your mouth.

I covered the Australia-West Indies semi-final for the Daily Telegraph newspaper and for BBC Radio, and what a match! For the second day running, the team that seemed out for the count within 20 minutes of it starting pulled though. The day before, it was Sri Lanka against India in Calcutta, though I saw nothing of it. On a dodgy pitch - re-laid after that embarrassing opening ceremony - Sri Lanka lost both openers in the first over but won easily. India were feeble, though not Tendulkar. The huge and volatile crowd threw bottles and more at the Sri Lankan players and eventually Clive Lloyd, the match referee, abandoned it in the Sri Lankans' favour. They were winning by a mile anyway.

In Chandigarh, Warne did a job on West Indies, who surrendered eight wickets for 37 and left their captain unbeaten on 49 and in despair. Here are the facts: Australia, batting first, were 15 for 4 but made 207 for 8 thanks to Stuart Law and Michael Bevan's ballsy fifth-wicket partnership. Then West Indies were 165 for 2 in the 42nd over before crumbling. It was fun to shout and scream with adjectives on radio commentary, but actually I felt sad, because a dynasty was over.

The trophy stayed in the subcontinent

The trophy stayed in the subcontinent BK Bangash / © Associated Press
Saturday and Sunday, March 16 and 17
Lahore. Imran had a party for the great and the good on the Saturday night but the star guest, Mick Jagger, was stuck in Delhi with a private jet and no permission to land in Lahore. That tested Imran. I really liked Lahore, with its trees, parks and whitewashed sandstone. I even bought a carpet. Honest, I did. What a hassle getting that home.

The final
They did it. Of all the nutty, glorious, improbable things, Sri Lanka surged past Australia and won the World Cup. There were scores to settle and settle them they did. It happened pretty much as Ranatunga predicted back at Beach Wadiya when he sat with me for two of those five meals. There were heroes at every turn but first among equals was Aravinda de Silva, who had the best World Cup final of anyone - including Viv - with wickets, catches and a wonderful, perfectly paced hundred that saw off the might of Warne, McGrath and the others who know no defeat.

After being called for throwing in Australia months earlier, Muthiah Muralidaran bowled the most telling spell of the match, which was the sweetest revenge, if not necessarily complete vindication. Ranatunga late-cut the winning runs with the touch of a surgeon. It was his favourite shot and, to bring death upon Australia, he used it many times, if not quite a thousand.

Australia were off colour, on the wrong end of the toss, and the script was probably written anyway. Ian Chappell managed to interview a tired-looking Mark Taylor but the crush on the podium was such that he bumped into Pakistan's prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, in the moments before she presented Ranatunga with the cup. No matter, all night that cup ran over.
 
.,.,

Hasan Ali replaces Naseem Shah as Pakistan announce squad for World Cup 2023


  • Pacer Zaman Khan and leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed feature in travelling reserves
BR
September 22, 2023

Pakistan announced on Friday their 18-member squad for the ICC World Cup 2023, adding pacer Hasan Ali in place of the injured Naseem Shah.

As per the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Naseem, who suffered a shoulder injury during the Asia Cup, has been advised to undergo surgery.

“Following thorough medical examinations and consultations with leading medical experts, Naseem has been advised to undergo surgery,” the PCB said in a press release.

Naseem is expected to recover in three to four months, the press release added.

“World Cup is the most important event in any cricketer’s life and I want to congratulate all the cricketers who have made it to the squad through their impressive performances,” the release quoted Chief Selector and former captain Inzamamul Haq as saying.

“This team has performed wonderfully well over the last couple of years and that is why we have shown faith in the same bunch.

“We were forced to make one change because of an unfortunate injury to Naseem Shah. We had a few injury scares in the recent Asia Cup, but I am glad to share that all the players are fully fit and are eager to perform for their country in the all-important tournament.

“I have received encouraging reports from our medical panel about Haris Rauf. He has started to (shadow) bowl at the National Cricket Academy and will be available for selection.”

The World Cup gets underway with warmup matches before the first One-Day International on October 5 between England and New Zealand.

Pakistan play their first ODI against the Netherlands the next day (Friday). Their blockbuster game against World Cup hosts India is scheduled for October 14 in Ahmedabad.

The Pakistan team has come under criticism in recent weeks after being knocked out of the Asia Cup before the final. Their performance against India in the Super Four game was singled out after Babar Azam’s men suffered a crushing 228-run loss in a rain-hit clash.

However, despite the defeats to India and Sri Lanka, Pakistan retained their number one status in the ICC Men’s ODI Team Rankings.

Pakistan squad

Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Salman Ali Agha, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Usama Mir.

The selectors have also named three traveling reserves in wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Haris, spinner Abrar Ahmed and fast-bowler Zaman Khan.
 
,..,.

From Lahore to Madras at the 1996 World Cup, in cargo planes, delayed trains and on elephants​

A look back at favourite World Cups: this time, the thrills and spills of the subcontinent

MARK NICHOLAS
SEPTEMBER 20, 2023

Ah, the 1996 World Cup. That was something. Chaos often reigned, characters thankfully shone, and underdogs did things that only a short time previously would have seemed impossible, even to them. Across five memorable weeks, the bewildering and the beguiling; the controversial and the constructive; the surprising and the satisfying chased us around three countries - India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - whose honour it was to host the tournament and whose operational skills were tested to the limit by events and circumstance that frequently beggared belief. There were planes, trains, automobiles and elephants; red forts, pink cities and marble palaces; tuk-tuks, rickshaws and the roar of 1200cc engines in towns and villages that barely knew such powerful means of transport existed.

There was Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath; Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh; Jacques Kallis, Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock. And there was Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda de Silva, and a tight group of Sri Lankans who outwitted the rest. Imran Khan, the winner in 1992, graced the final with his new wife Jemima, of Goldsmith stock. Richie Benaud, Tony Greig and Ian Chappell brought the Channel Nine legend with them and graced the commentary boxes of lands entrenched in the game of cricket.

Mark Mascarenhas, the Harvard-educated Indian entrepreneur, whose WorldTel business managed Tendulkar's commercial affairs, had bid US$10 million for the television rights, and to some astonishment, was awarded them with barely a murmur. Almost immediately Sky New Zealand offered him three million for their piece of the action and Mascarenhas knew he was onto something. Sure, 1996 is 27 years ago, but $10 million? That's more heist than coup. Mascarenhas was a larger-than-life character, tragically killed in a car accident in 2002. For six weeks in the early part of 1996, he ruled the game's roost, ramped up the television coverage, and spread his great sense of optimism and commercial possibility on a game that, in the subcontinent at least, was still finding its feet. I loved him because he gave me a gig.

This World Cup was my second big break in broadcasting. The first had come six months earlier, when I began a three-year deal with Sky in the UK. Following England's tour of South Africa, the Sky crew moved on to Zimbabwe, where, on a visit to the Streak family farm near Bulawayo - the home of Denis and his son Heath - I received a call from the executive producer of the tournament, Gary Franses. It was a bad line but a simple message. "Yes please!" I replied before he had finished inviting me to work with WorldTel on ten games in different parts of India and Sri Lanka. I was beyond excitement and hurried back to Harare for my flight to Mumbai.

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Mascarenhas had laid on a private jet for Greig, Benaud and Chappell and it didn't turn up, so they took the train from Gwalior to Visakhapatnam. Greigy came on air 45 minutes after the start, as if nothing had happened

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Friday, February 9, 1996
Mumbai's international airport was packed and chaotic at 2am - a vignette of India. The flight was painless but the wait at customs not so. Eventually, I was called to an officer who asked me to open my luggage before enquiring about the purpose of my visit. "World Cup," I proudly answered. He looked up in astonishment. "Vills Vorld Cup?" "Absolutely." Wills cigarettes were the sponsors. He was thrilled, zipped up my suitcase and asked for my autograph.

I had a few hours to kill before connecting to Kolkata for the opening ceremony and bumped into Mike Gatting and David Shepherd. A couple of beers later we were checking in for Indian Airlines 936, and we landed on the other side of the country at 8am. By 8.40, a plethora of taxi drivers had offered us a ride into town. That journey through the smog-filled sprawl was unique: essential India. The 1950 Ambassador Nova hustled past colonial reminders - the Tollygunge Club and the Victoria Memorial - before stuttering past the vast expanse of the maidan to our left, already sprinkled with cricket matches, and swinging right into the splendid Oberoi Hotel. How these commentators live!

Sunday, February 11
An emotive and unpleasant press conference, which I attended on behalf of London's Daily Telegraph. The PILCOM (Pakistan-India-Sri Lanka Organising Committee) were on edge after Australia and West Indies refused to play in Sri Lanka because of a bomb explosion a week earlier in Colombo. No compromise could be reached and the points were forfeited.

As if that wasn't enough, the evening's opening ceremony was a shambles. The much hyped laser show fell flat and the presenter mistook many of the teams for one another - at one stage he asked the West Indian players to wave at the 110,000-strong crowd to prove they were Zimbabweans. Two million dollars it cost, which was hard to take, having seen homeless people live in the underbelly of the Howrah Bridge.

Wednesday, February 14
The press corps left the Oberoi at 4.30am on Monday morning and arrived in Ahmedabad after nine at night. Nice preparation for a World Cup match, said England's manager, Ray Illingworth. Same for both sides, said PILCOM. I was upgraded to business class, courtesy of the Wills World Cup badge on my blazer. This thing was currency and that blazer was front and centre of every trip I made from Kolkata to Colombo and Jaipur to Lahore. As it was, England, who dropped a few catches, had their feathers ruffled by a feisty New Zealand, and on this first showing of the two teams, you'd have backed the Black Caps to go deeper in the tournament than Mike Atherton's outdated-looking team.

Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga was never less than confident about his team's chances of winning the World Cup's chances of winning the World Cup

Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga was never less than confident about his team's chances of winning the World Cup Zafar Ahmed / © Associated Press
Friday, February 16
To Hyderabad, the home of the biryani and, my notes of the time remind me, of Mohammad Azharuddin, who had upped sticks to Mumbai and moved in with the actor Sangeeta Bijlani. Azhar was captain of India and the one Muslim in the team. Thus, he created quite a stir.

Hyderabad was also the home of Sports Coaching Foundation, which housed the only bowling machine in India - a bit odd, given they had been on the market since the early 1980s. The academy had floodlights, Astroturf and sightscreens that switched between black and white. There were 12 coaches, psychologists and nutritional experts. Its purpose was to train six-to-16-year-old boys in the fundamentals of technique and approach - a eagerly awaited mirror of the academy in Australia, which had been much in the news. Looking back to that time is a reminder of the distance Indian cricket has come.

That night I met John Hampshire, coach of Zimbabwe, and Wes Hall, manager of West Indies, in the bar. Two great fellows who, in different ways, played a part in my life. I represented MCC in East Africa with Hampshire in 1983 and Hampshire's hard-nosed Yorkshire take on our performances made for a good listen. In 1999, I gave the eulogy at Malcolm Marshall's funeral in Barbados with Hall, the charismatic fast bowler, who was a man of the church by then and a superb orator. "Malcolm Denzil Marshall was the greatest fast bowler who ever lived," he began, "and the reason I can tell you this with absolute certainty is that the only thing Wesley Hall truly knows about is faaaast bowling!"

I digress. Wes said the pundits had written off West Indies. On the viewing that day against Zimbabwe, I wasn't among them.

Saturday, February 17
I arrived in Colombo with Michael Henderson from the Times. We were excited about our visit to this troubled but utterly beautiful land. No cars were allowed within half a mile of the airport terminals, which made our exit comfortable and airy but confusing too. I've no recollection of how we were met and taken to our hotels. I went straight to the Premadasa Stadium, where the Sri Lankan team were making a symbolic appearance in lieu of the Australia match being abandoned, but I missed both the players and whatever spectators came to cheer them. The empty concrete stands echoed loudly with the silence.

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The Ilyushin hit the 50-metre runway with shattering force and the jets roared into a deafening reverse thrust. Equipment and humans were thrown everywhere. The tyres smelt of deep burn. We made it, just

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Wednesday, February 21
Zimbabwe arrived late the previous day, played on Wednesday and were to leave on Thursday. Their cricketers would have seen nothing of this island by then: its plantations and paddy fields, beaches and temples, never mind the people, who sparkled, whatever the heartbreak of civil war.

In the match, Sri Lanka hammered the Zimbabweans. After the immediate loss of the pinch-hit boys - Romesh Kaluwitharana and Sanath Jayasuriya - Asanka Gurusinha belied his reputation for a straight face and smashed half a dozen sixes, which was one less than the World Cup record held by Viv Richards.

Friday, February 23
Morning: I tune in to watch Australia play Kenya and find Michael Slater, a member of the Aussie squad, doing the pitch report, and a cub sports reporter from Channel Nine in Sydney hosting the telecast. It transpires that Mascarenhas had laid on a private jet for Greig, Benaud and Chappell, but it didn't turn up, so they got the train from Gwalior to Visakhapatnam, which took all night and more. Greigy came on air 45 minutes after the start of the game as if nothing had happened.

Evening: This was the dinner that opened my eyes to another world. Ranatunga and the Sri Lanka coach, Dav Whatmore, took me to Beach Wadiya, a sand-between-your-toes seafood restaurant across the railway line on the way out of town, at which I was to eat four of my next six meals. Gorging on chilli crab and huge tiger prawns, I listened to their plans and marvelled at their confidence. Ranatunga was damn certain that Sri Lanka could win it. He explained each of his own players' roles, knew the strengths and weaknesses of every opponent, and predicted the pattern of various matches. He was sure a team from the subcontinent would win. I suggested Australia but he said, tongue in cheek, that neutral umpires put paid to their chances. He left early to rise at 4am the next morning and drive inland for a Buddhist blessing. The owner of the restaurant showed us his visitors' book with autographs and pictures of Princess Anne and Richard Branson logged alongside Phil Tufnell. He asked me back for lunch the next day, and dinner and lunch. So I went.

Tuesday, February 27
At last, a game to set the pulse racing. The revamped Wankhede Stadium sparkled under new floodlights and India's and Australia's players put on a show. Australia won by 16. Mark Waugh eased his way to a hundred and then knocked over Tendulkar with an offbreak. Lucky he did because Sachin had 90 in quick time and was winning the game. The best batters I saw as a kid were Garry Sobers, Viv Richards, Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards and Greg Chappell. Two in this tournament matched them - Tendulkar and Lara. Mark Waugh comfortably matched them in the aesthetic if not quite in the substance.

Richie Benaud and Ian Chappell: two of the big names in the World Cup commentary booth in 1996

Richie Benaud and Ian Chappell: two of the big names in the World Cup commentary booth in 1996 © Mark Ray
Thursday, February 29
Shock, horror. Kenya beat West Indies. I could only imagine Wes Hall in that dressing room. I could easily imagine the Kenyan dressing room.

Meantime, South Africa withstood Pakistan, and I withstood a flight to Nagpur sitting with Greig and Ian Chappell (yup, another upgrade) whose contrasting views on the game made for good copy.

Saturday, March 2
We left Nagpur soon after 10am on an Ilyushin 76, a huge airbus out of Ukraine that was transporting 9.5 tonnes of television gear from venue to venue. It had a cockpit for the pilot and two more for the gunmen. Inside was a dark and empty steel shell, exposed wires and cables, melting rubber tyres, vast static generators, ladders, cameras, and masses of computer kit. We could not help but think the previous cargo might have been Kalashnikovs and the last flight went to Afghanistan. Fifty of us sat quietly on metal: no seats, just metal benches and tired seatbelts. We swatted at mosquitos. Chappell slept atop a mountain of TV kit; Benaud clung on, white-knuckled. A video operator threw up.

Greig had gone ahead to Delhi to sing songs of praise for the Sri Lankans, who cruised past India's big score with an electric batting display. This time the pinch-hit boys had their say, and Ranatunga's forecast was looking ever more likely.

After two hours, the Ilyushin hit the 50-metre runway with shattering force and the jets roared into a deafening reverse thrust. Equipment and humans were thrown everywhere. The tyres smelt of deep burn. We made it - just. There were weak smiles all round as we climbed onto terra firma, damp from sweat and to be damper still from the drizzle. Looking back, it was kinda fun but it sure wouldn't happen today.

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Ranatunga was damn certain that Sri Lanka could win it. He explained each of his own player's roles, knew the strengths and weaknesses of every opponent, and predicted the pattern of various matches. He was sure a team from the subcontinent would win

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Sunday, March 3
Beautiful Jaipur, the city built from pink sandstone, and what isn't is painted pink.

Richie Benaud was filming "pretties" and promos on an elephant that climbed the hill into the Pink City as he talked to the camera about its long and fabled history. Turned out he didn't much like the ride, so I jumped on for the journey down and he grabbed a tuk-tuk.

I had my first appointment with the commentary-box heavies the next day in Jaipur for the Australia-West Indies game: Benaud, Chappell, Greig, Michael Holding and Sunny Gavaskar. I was too nervous to enter the room until Peter Roebuck wandered by, enquired as to my loitering, and told me to stop being a wuss.

It was a great thrill to be in there: boyhood heroes and all that. I did lead commentary and various of the others provided expert summary. Right way round, I guess. Everyone was dialled in to the West Indian response to defeat by Kenya. Apparently, Wes and Andy Roberts had read the team the riot act. The big question was who was running with the captain, Richie Richardson, and who wasn't? The message was that those who weren't could "eff off". Richie played a brave and skilful innings to see his team home and looked shot afterwards. One couldn't help but wonder how much he had left in the tank.

Tuesday, March 5
Arrggghh man! The night train to Kanpur is delayed five hours. I sleep on the platform. Flights to Kanpur were complicated but I now regret not exploring them further. Big mistake. I slip the guard 20 quid and whoosh, up I fly into first class. With a rat. The guard brings me Super-Killem pesticide. No luck. Nor with my right boot. No good. No sleep. I arrive in Kanpur 12 hours late and Ian Chappell introduces me on air as "… Mark Nicholas, who's been in the business five minutes and only works half-days."

Steve Waugh and Paul Reiffel ride an elephant at Amber Fort, Jaipur, during the World Cup

Steve Waugh and Paul Reiffel ride an elephant at Amber Fort, Jaipur, during the World Cup © Getty Images
Thursday, March 7
The Lara factor. Brian is getting some stick for talking behind the players' backs about indiscipline, lack of talent, no spirit, and bad management. Lara is now a target and former players are weighing in. Richardson thinks it a "malicious and sad" piece of journalism and says he spent the previous night with Lara and they had not talked about it. In fact, Richie said Brian was utterly committed to winning the World Cup.

Richie had other things on his mind, having announced his retirement to take effect after the tournament. Meantime, Andy Roberts was sacked. I kid you not. Sacked during the tournament. Nice timing Richie - get 'em before they get you.

Saturday, March 9
It's quarter-final time. England are out - quite hopeless really. Sri Lanka tear them apart.

In Bangalore, and thanks to a blistering assault by Ajay Jadeja on Waqar Younis, India triumph over Pakistan against the odds. The teams had only played each other in neutral venues for the last seven years, and the occasion lives up to the billing. A vibrant and hugely patriotic crowd went ballistic in celebration. Akram will not have been popular at home. He pulled out of the game shortly before the toss.

Elsewhere at around time, after a gruelling week, Lara played an innings against South Africa for the ages to silence the critics. The audacity and flourish in his batting made for compelling viewing, and the hundred came in just 83 balls. The South Africans, professional to the end, simply could not resist this force of nature and looked in shock by the end. Richie Richardson, in contrast, lives on.

I was in Madras for the Australia-New Zealand quarter-final, which had some stupendous batting from Chris Harris that was first matched and then bettered by Mark Waugh. In a high-scoring game that appeared to be in the hands of the Kiwis, the Australians found a way, as is their wont.

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The night train to Kanpur is delayed five hours. I arrive 12 hours late and Ian Chappell introduces me on air as "… Mark Nicholas, who's been in the business five minutes and only works half-days"
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Tuesday, March 12
A 5.30am flight to Delhi, then a day-long wait for the train to Chandigarh. I hadn't managed to get to the Taj Mahal, which was infuriating. Instead, I wandered the bright bazaars of Old Delhi, which nestle beneath the Red Fort. I watched any number of pick-up cricket games that were enthusiastically played in gallis, amid rickshaws, bikers, cyclists, hawkers and cows.

At the station, I climbed into a tight seat next to a woman and a boy, who suddenly threw up. Perhaps it's me. Anyway, I leapt off the train as it pulled out of the station and thought, right, what now? Where to find a bed and a beer? I headed to the British High Commission and asked for help. Incredibly, there was an old mate, who was on the High Commission council, who listened to my story and offered me his Land Cruiser and driver. Now that, folks, is falling down a drainpipe and coming up with a Mars bar in your mouth.

I covered the Australia-West Indies semi-final for the Daily Telegraph newspaper and for BBC Radio, and what a match! For the second day running, the team that seemed out for the count within 20 minutes of it starting pulled though. The day before, it was Sri Lanka against India in Calcutta, though I saw nothing of it. On a dodgy pitch - re-laid after that embarrassing opening ceremony - Sri Lanka lost both openers in the first over but won easily. India were feeble, though not Tendulkar. The huge and volatile crowd threw bottles and more at the Sri Lankan players and eventually Clive Lloyd, the match referee, abandoned it in the Sri Lankans' favour. They were winning by a mile anyway.

In Chandigarh, Warne did a job on West Indies, who surrendered eight wickets for 37 and left their captain unbeaten on 49 and in despair. Here are the facts: Australia, batting first, were 15 for 4 but made 207 for 8 thanks to Stuart Law and Michael Bevan's ballsy fifth-wicket partnership. Then West Indies were 165 for 2 in the 42nd over before crumbling. It was fun to shout and scream with adjectives on radio commentary, but actually I felt sad, because a dynasty was over.

The trophy stayed in the subcontinent

The trophy stayed in the subcontinent BK Bangash / © Associated Press
Saturday and Sunday, March 16 and 17
Lahore. Imran had a party for the great and the good on the Saturday night but the star guest, Mick Jagger, was stuck in Delhi with a private jet and no permission to land in Lahore. That tested Imran. I really liked Lahore, with its trees, parks and whitewashed sandstone. I even bought a carpet. Honest, I did. What a hassle getting that home.

The final
They did it. Of all the nutty, glorious, improbable things, Sri Lanka surged past Australia and won the World Cup. There were scores to settle and settle them they did. It happened pretty much as Ranatunga predicted back at Beach Wadiya when he sat with me for two of those five meals. There were heroes at every turn but first among equals was Aravinda de Silva, who had the best World Cup final of anyone - including Viv - with wickets, catches and a wonderful, perfectly paced hundred that saw off the might of Warne, McGrath and the others who know no defeat.

After being called for throwing in Australia months earlier, Muthiah Muralidaran bowled the most telling spell of the match, which was the sweetest revenge, if not necessarily complete vindication. Ranatunga late-cut the winning runs with the touch of a surgeon. It was his favourite shot and, to bring death upon Australia, he used it many times, if not quite a thousand.

Australia were off colour, on the wrong end of the toss, and the script was probably written anyway. Ian Chappell managed to interview a tired-looking Mark Taylor but the crush on the podium was such that he bumped into Pakistan's prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, in the moments before she presented Ranatunga with the cup. No matter, all night that cup ran over.




But what about "JETLOCK" Surely everyone died from "JETLOCK"
 

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