Best Ever Bowler
The master of the off-stump line with the immaculate length, Australian Glenn McGrath has been a tormentor of World Cup batsmen. He appeared in only three editions, but took 71 wickets in 39 matches at a mind-boggling average of 18.19. The best bowling figures in a World Cup match are still his: 7 for 15 against Namibia in 2003. Australia won all the three World Cups he played. No surprise there.
Best Ever Batsman
The player with the most World Cup runs is—don’t hold your breath— Sachin Tendulkar. The Indian maestro has played in six editions, amassing 2,278 runs in 45 matches. While his ODI records are nothing short of stellar, his World Cup performances are extraordinary. He made those runs at an average of 56.95, while also scoring the most number of World Cup centuries—a total of six.
Fastest Ever Delivery
There isn’t a more enjoyable sight on a cricket field than an express fast bowler steaming in, all muscle and fury, to beat a batsman with pace. In the 2003 World Cup, Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee were in hot contest to break the 160 kmph barrier. Lee came close twice, but Pakistan’s Akhtar broke past with a bolt of a delivery that whizzed in at England’s Nick Knight at161.3 kmph—the fastest ever till date.
FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH
AB de Villiers
There are few cricketers quite like him. He can bat at any position, keep wickets, nudge balls around for quick singles and clobber any ball to whichever part of the stadium takes his fancy. If South Africa are favourites, it’s thanks chiefly to him. He has scored over 2,000 runs in the past two years, at an average of 60.28.
He is clearly one of the world’s most exciting batsmen today. Now it is to be seen if he can bring his game to the biggest stage in the sport. Kohli has been exceptional both on seaming and flat tracks. So far he has scored 21 centuries in 150 games with an average of 51.50. And he is only 26 years old.
He bats T20 style in 50-over matches, the kind of batsman who can reverse sweep a fast bowler for six. A few weeks ago, the Aussie seemed out of form, but has come back roaring. He scored 95 runs and took four wickets in the recent triangular series final. In a later warm-up match against India, he scored 122 off only 57 balls.
There is nothing as enjoyable as watching a mean fast bowler in action. And Steyn does not just bowl at awesome speeds, he also swings the ball. In a format loaded in favour of batsmen, this South African can rip batting orders apart. In the past two years, he has taken 21 wickets at a staggering bowling average of 8.09.
This batsman will play a crucial role in Sri Lanka’s campaign. The current player with the most number of runs at a World Cup, 991 runs at an average of 45.04, he is playing his last ODI tournament. In 2014, he scored 2,868 runs across the three formats, beating Ricky Ponting’s record for most runs scored in a calendar year. In World Cups, no one has scored more runs than he has: 4,529.
In 2011’s final, Tendulkar didn’t watch the final once he got out; he’d been getting a massage in the dressing room when India won the semi-final, and saw it as a lucky charm. Back in 1983, Indian players were asked to stay still for at least two hours by the team manager as Kapil Dev scored his 175-not-out against Zimbabwe.
Both featured South Africa. The first was its 1999 semi-final against Australia. In the last over, South Africa’s last batting pair of Lance Klusener and Allan Donald needed nine runs to win. Klusener smacked eight runs off the first two balls, but on the third, Donald was run out on the former’s call for a single. It was a tie and Australia advanced on better overall numbers. The second was in 2003 against Sri Lanka. Rain paused play and South Africa thought they’d won on a Duckworth-Lewis calculation. It turned out they had miscalculated. Again, it was a tie.