Today we bring to you the highlights of the 1979 Cricket World Cup. Four years after its inaugural edition, the world cup returned to England in 1979. There were again 8 participating teams with Canada having qualified this time instead of East Africa. The 7 other teams remained the same.
The West Indies who were the defending champions again defended their crown, this time with more ruthlessness and dominance. The Clive Lloyd side was now without any doubt the world’s best team in batting, bowling and fielding departments. The team who raised the 1979 Cricket World Cup trophy is regarded as one of the best sides in cricket history. India again remained winless in this edition of the world cup also.
The Format and Participating Teams
The 8 teams taking part in the 1979 Cricket World Cup were again divided into two groups. Each team needed to play other 3 members of the group with the top 2 sides among each group qualify to fight in the knockout stage. The first group had previous edition finalists Australia and hosts England as the two top sides. Pakistan and Canada were the other two teams in this group. The teams would fight against each other and produce some exciting contests.
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The hosts England again won all their matches in the league stage. They beat the long-time rivals Australia in the first match by 6 wickets before defeating the newbie Canadian side by 8 wickets. In the last group match, the English team was given a tough fight by now an improved and inspired Pakistani side. Both teams fought neck to neck but eventually, England won the match by 14 runs. The hosts were unbeaten in the league stage and confident to bring the glory home this time.
Pakistan emerged as the second-best team in Group A. They were a different side to 1975 one with much more quality players. The Pakistanis led by Asif Iqbal defeated Australia by 89 runs and the Canadian side by 8 wickets to win their 2 matches. They qualified for the semi-finals this time. The Aussies who had been the finalists in 1975 managed to get just one win against an inexperienced Canadian squad. The Kim Hughes led side lacked the real match-winners and could not bring their best in crucial matches.
1975 Cricket World Cup: Group B Matches
The second group consisted of defending champions West Indies, India, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand. The Caribbean side again remained unbeaten in the group stage matches. They won their contests against India and New Zealand by 9 wickets and 32 runs respectively. Sri Lanka vs West Indies match at the Oval was washed out without even a single delivery bowled. The Caribbean squad however reached the knockout stage again. They were still unbeaten in any world cup match.
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New Zealand also reached the 1979 Cricket World Cup semi-final stage again like a repeat to their 1975 cup performance. The Kiwis beat India by 8 wickets and Sri Lanka by 9 wickets. They were however defeated by the West Indies by West Indies by 32 runs in what was the last match of the Group B. India and Sri Lanka again dropped short of qualifying for the all-important knockout stage. The two sides played each other at Old Trafford. Sri Lanka won that match by 47 runs, leaving India winless in a world cup match.
The Knockout Matches
In the first semi-final match, hosts England met New Zealand at Old Trafford. While choosing to bat first England scored 221 runs. The innings was led by a gutsy knock of 71 runs by Graham Gooch who was well supported in the middle order by Derek Rendell scoring 42 runs. The Kiwis however made a mess of a small chase as they kept on losing wickets at regular intervals.
The New Zealand opener John Wright stood solid on the crease scoring a valuable 69 runs knock. He was however not supported by any batsman for long. The regular fall of wickets and lack of partnerships meant that the Kiwis lost track of the run rate. They were finally restricted to just 212 runs for the loss of 9 wickets in the allotted 60 overs. Mike Hendrick led the English bowling with 3 wickets to his name. The hosts had won a tight match and were now through to the finals.
The second semis match was played between West Indies and Pakistan at the Oval cricket ground. The defending champions batted first and put on a challenging total of 293 runs on the board. All the Caribbean top-order batsmen Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Vivian Richards, and Clive Lloyd made healthy contributions with the bat. Greenidge top scored with 73 runs. Pakistan’s captain Asif Iqbal proved to be the best bowler for his side, taking 4 West Indian wickets.
Pakistan started the chase wonderfully with Majid Khan and Zaheer Abbas putting on 166 runs for the 2nd wicket. Khan scored 81 runs while Abbas played aggressive innings of 93. At 176 for 2, when the Pakistanis were cursing towards victory the Caribbean pace bowling battery came back strongly. They took regular wickets with Colin Croft and Vivian Richards claiming 3 scalps each. Pakistanis were bowled out for 250 runs in 56 overs. The West Indies reached another world cup final. They would now take on hosts England in the 1979 Cricket World Cup tournament decider.
The Final Frontier
West Indies and England met in the much-awaited tournament decider at the Lord’s cricket ground. Both sides were yet to lose a match in the whole 1979 Cricket World Cup tournament. The defending champions chose to bat first. The scored a massive total of 286 runs. The innings were led by their star batsman Vivian Richards who made a massive score of 138 runs. Collis King also contributed well with a brisk 86 runs from just 66 balls to give the team total a last-minute push. English batsmen were to bring their best on the ground for any chance of victory.
The hosts started the chase with great intend and positivity. Their openers Mike Brearley and Geoff Boycott put 129 runs for the opening wicket. However, being behind in the run rate would soon tell on the English batsmen. While trying to accelerate the scoring rate they were dismissed in a quick time. From 183 for 3 wickets, the hosts were all-out for 193 runs in 51 overs. Joel Garner was the hero of Caribbean bowling as he claimed 5 wickets. He was well supported for Colin Croft and Michael Holding who took 3 and 2 wickets respectively.
The West Indian cricket team under Clive Lloyd had thus won the second successive cricket world cup. Vivian Richards was declared as the man of the match in the all-important 1979 Cricket World Cup final. The West Indies truly dominated the whole tournament and once again showed why they were the best One Day and Test Cricket side in the world of that time.