World Cup

Cricket World Cup 1987: Australia Wins Their First Title

The 1987 Cricket World Cup was the fourth Cricket World Cup (formally known as the Reliance Cup 1987 due to sponsorship). It was the first such tournament staged outside of England, taking place in India and Pakistan from October 8 to November 8, 1987.

The one-day format remained unchanged from the eight-team event in 1983, with the exception of a reduction in the number of overs played by a side from 60 to 50, the current standard for all ODIs. Now, let’s immerse ourselves in the 1987 Cricket World Cup.

The Build-Up


The competition was divided into two groups of four teams, with each team playing each other twice in 50-over matches. The top two teams from each group would advance to the semi-finals, with the two winners advancing to the final. All matches were played during the day, and for the final time in the tournament’s history, the sides wore conventional white attire and used traditional red balls as seen in Test/First Class matches.


14 stadiums from India were selected to host the World Cup games, while 7 venues from Pakistan also hosted the matches. The Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore played host to the first semi-final, while the iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai hosted the second semi-final. The final of the 1987 edition was held in Eden Gardens, Kolkata.


The ICC declared that all seven countries with Test status would automatically qualify for the event; one additional entrance slot would be provided to the champions of the 1986 ICC Trophy; Zimbabwe won the berth for the second time, defeating the Netherlands.

Teams that participated in the 1987 Cricket World Cup:

  • Australia
  • England 
  • India
  • New Zealand
  •  Pakistan
  •  Sri Lanka
  •  West Indies
  •  Zimbabwe


For the first time, the World Cup was held outside of England in 1987, with India and Pakistan co-hosting. India, having won the World Cup in 1983, was billed as pre-tournament favourites and was anticipated to convincingly defend their championship in familiar surroundings.

1987 World Cup Group Matches

Match 1: October 08 | Pakistan vs Sri Lanka

Pakistan elected to bat first in front of the home crowd and posted 267/6 thanks to Javed Miandad’s 103 runs. While chasing the target, Roshan Mahanama’s 89 kept Sri Lanka in the game, but it wasn’t enough as Pakistan won the match by 15 runs.

Match 2: October 09 | England vs West Indies

Richie Richardson’s 53, Jeff Dujon’s 46, and Gus Logie’s 49 ensured the Windies reached a total of 243/7. In defence, the Windies bowlers had England 162/7 at one time; however, Allan Lamb’s partnerships with Phil DeFreitas and Neil Foster paved the way for England’s win by 2 wickets.

Match 3: October 09 | India vs Australia

In a closely contested match in Chennai, Australia defeated the defending champions, India, by 1 run. Australia posted 270, with Geoff Marsh scoring a century. While chasing the target, India was in a good position, but they lost wickets in bulk at the end and lost the game.

Match 4: October 10 | New Zealand vs Zimbabwe

Another close encounter occurred in the 1987 edition, and this time it was between New Zealand and Zimbabwe. New Zealand managed to score 242 in front of a disciplined Zimbabwean bowling attack. In response, Zimbabwe was bowled out for 239, despite Dave Houghton scoring 142 runs.

Match 5: October 12 | Pakistan vs England

After posting 239/7, the hosts, Pakistan, defeated England by 18 runs thanks to Abdul Qadir’s 4 wickets for 31 runs in 10 overs.

Match 6: October 13 | Australia vs Zimbabwe

Australia posted 235/9 on the board after being invited to bat first. While chasing the target, Zimbabwe batters were troubled by Simon O’Donnell, who picked up 4 wickets and helped Australia win the game by 96 runs.

Match 7: October  13 | Sri Lanka vs West Indies

Desmond Haynes’ 105 and Viv Richards’ 181 powered the Windies to 360 runs — the first-ever 350+ score in ODIs. In response, the Sri Lankan batters mustered only 169 runs in 50 overs, and the West Indies won by 191 runs.

Match 8: October 14 | India vs New Zealand

Navjot Sidhu’s 75 and captain Kapil Dev’s unbeaten 72 helped India post a total of 252/7. In reply, New Zealand had a decent start and was seated comfortably at 168/3. And then three runouts derailed their chase, and India won by 16 runs.

Match 9: October 16 | Pakistan vs West Indies

One more nail-biting thriller unfolded in Lahore that saw Pakistan defeat the Windies by 1 wicket on the last ball. Captain Imran Khan led the Pakistani bowling attack, picking up 4 wickets and restricting the Windies to 216. The chase was intense as it looked like the game might go anyone’s way, but Pakistan managed to pull it off on the last ball.

Match 10: October 17 | England vs Sri Lanka

Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting took England’s total to 296 runs putting a challenging score on the board. In response, Sri Lanka lost wickets in bunches and lost the game by 108 runs.

Match 11: October 17 | India vs Zimbabwe

Manoj Prabhakar and Maninder Singh rattled through the Zimbabwe batting lineup and bowled them out for a mere 135 runs. Kris Srikkanth and Sunil Gavaskar made the chase easy by providing a solid start and India won by 8 wickets.

Match 12: October 18 | Australia vs New Zealand

The trans-Tasman rivalry between Australia and New Zealand was at its best in a 30 overs a side match. Australia managed to post 199, thanks to David Boon’s 87. The Kiwis got off to a good start; however, they fell short by 3 runs in the end.

Match 13: October 20 | Pakistan vs England

Pakistan once again defeated England in the 1987 edition by 7 wickets. Bill Athey’s 86 took England to 244 runs in 50 overs; however, Ramiz Raja’s 113 and Saleem Malik’s 88 overshadowed it and Pakistan chased down the target with ease.

Match 14: October 21 | Sri Lanka vs West Indies

Phil Simmons’ 89 made sure the Windies reached a decent total of 236/8. Arjuna Ranatunga also scored 86 in response, but he couldn’t take his side home and the West Indies won by 25 runs.

Match 15: October 22 | India vs Australia

4 half-centuries from Sunil Gavaskar, Navjot Sidhu, Dilip Vengsarkar, and Mohammad Azharuddin helped India post a good total of 289. In response, England got a decent start but later tumbled in front of Maninder Singh and Azharuddin also showed his all-round skills, helping India win by 56 runs.

Match 16: October 23 | New Zealand vs Zimbabwe

After being asked to bat first, Zimbabwe managed to post 227, riding on the back of 3 crucial half-centuries from their batters. The game was evenly poised when New Zealand was on 56/3, but the duo of Martin Crowe and Jeff Crowe ensured a 4-wicket victory for New Zealand.

Match 17: October 25 | Pakistan vs Sri Lanka

Saleem Malik smashed a 95 ball 100, helping Pakistan post 297/7. Just like their bowlers, Sri Lankan batters failed to win the game by 113 runs.

Match 18: October 26 | England vs West Indies

Batting first, England scored 269 runs, with crucial contributions coming off the bat of Graham Gooch (92), Allan Lamb (40), and John Emburey (24 off 16). Despite Richie Richardson’s 93 and Viv Richards’s 51, the Windies lost the game by 34 runs.

Match 19: October 26 | India vs Zimbabwe

India won the toss and invited Zimbabwe to bat first. Zimbabwe managed to score 191 runs and India chased it down easily with 7 wickets to spare.

Match 20: October 27 | Australia vs New Zealand

Geoff Marsh’s wonderful 126* took Australia to 251 despite losing wickets at regular intervals. The Australian bowlers also troubled the New Zealand batters regularly and beat the Kiwis by 17 runs.

Match 21: October 30 | Australia vs Zimbabwe

After 3 days, the trio of David Boon (93), Dean Jones (58*), and Mike Veletta (43) helped Australia reach 266/5 against Zimbabwe. In response, the Zimbabwean batters showed a bit of a fight, but it wasn’t enough for them to win the game and Australia won by 70 runs.

Match 22: October 30 | England vs Sri Lanka

After winning the toss, Sri Lanka decided to bat first and managed to score 218 runs in 50 overs. England chased down the target rather easily in 42 overs with 8 wickets to spare.

Match 23: October 30 | Pakistan vs West Indies

Richie Richardson again showed his batting excellence and scored 110 runs helping the Windies post 258 on the board. Pakistan’s top order showed some fight, but their tailenders couldn’t stand in front of the Windies bowling attack and West Indies won by 28 runs.

Match 24: October 31 | India vs New Zealand

The last game of the league stage and India won it convincingly against New Zealand with 9 wickets in hand. Chetan Sharma’s hattrick restricted New Zealand to 221 and India chased it down 33 overs.

Knockout Stage

1st Semi-Final: November 4, 1987 | Pakistan vs Australia

Australia won the toss and chose to bat first. The Australian batsmen got off to a fast start, scoring often, with David Boon (65) leading the way and forming an 82-run second-wicket stand with Dean Jones.

Australia was on track to reach 300 with good batting until Imran Khan claimed 3 wickets for 36 runs in 10 overs. Australia lost wickets at the end, but a large number of extras (34) from Pakistani bowlers, combined with previous excellent batting, brought Australia to 267/8 in 50 overs. 

Pakistan got off to a terrible start, dropping to 3/38. Imran Khan (58) and Javed Miandad (70) put on 112 runs in 26 overs. However, with the needed run rate at 7.87 runs when Miandad went, there was simply too much for Pakistan’s upcoming batters to do, and they were bowled out for 249. Earlier, Steve Waugh scored 18 runs off Saleem Jaffar’s 50th over, and Pakistan lost the match by exactly 18 runs.

2nd Semi-Final: November 5, 1987 | India vs England

India won the toss and elected to bat. Graham Gooch (115) and skipper Mike Gatting (56) put on 117 runs in 19 overs after reeling on 2/79. After Gooch was finally stumped, England added 51 more runs to reach 254/6 in 50 overs.

India got off to a shaky start, dropping to 3/73. The middle order batted well, with Mohammed Azharuddin scoring the most runs (64). Before Eddie Hemmings caught Azharuddin LBW, India was at 5/204, needing 50 runs from the final 10 overs, and had 5 wickets in hand.

It appeared that the game would be extremely close. However, India’s middle order and tailenders failed, and India was eventually bowled out for 219 in 45.3 overs, giving England a berth in the final and a measure of vengeance for their loss to India in the World Cup semi-final four years earlier in England.

Final: November 8, 1987 | Australia vs England

Australia won the toss and elected to bat first. David Boon (75) led the way for Australia, and they scored 253/5 in 50 overs. Mike Veletta (45) exploded late in the innings as Australia scored 65 runs in the final six overs.

Tim Robinson was out LBW for a first-ball duck in England’s reply. Bill Athey top-scored (58), and  England was almost there when captain Mike Gatting (41) lost his wicket by going for a reverse sweep, ending a growing partnership of 69 runs in 13 overs between him and Athey. 

Allan Lamb (45) also had a superb innings, but it was in vain as England’s needed run rate increased. When England failed to score the last 17 runs in the final over, Australia won the cup for the first time.

Special Moments in the World Cup of 1987

West Indies eliminated before the semi-finals for the first time

Inarticle 80

During Match 18 of the tournament, the two-time winners faced England in a must-win match in Jaipur. West Indies captain Viv Richards won the toss and chose to bat first. England finished with a good total of 269/5, thanks to Graham Gooch’s amazing 92 (137).

The Windies’ response saw them bowled out for 235 and lose by 34 runs. The defeat brought an end to the West Indies’ strong run in the World Cup, as they were eliminated before the semi-finals for the first time.

Chetan Sharma scalps the World Cup’s first hat-trick

Chetan Sharma carved his name in history by being the tournament’s first bowler to take up a hat-trick in India’s last league match against New Zealand in Nagpur. Sharma removed the stumps of Ken Rutherford, Ian Smith, and Ewen Chatfield in the 42nd over to score the first hat-trick by an Indian and the first in World Cup history.

Sunil Gavaskar hits his first ODI century off 88 balls

India needed 42.2 overs to chase down the total and avoid a semi-final clash with Pakistan in Lahore. Sunil Gavaskar was up to the task and played a stunning innings of 103* (88) to enable India to chase down the score in just 32.1 overs. It was notable that it was Gavaskar’s first and only ODI century.

Australia dashes Pakistan’s ultimate aspirations

Australia faced Pakistan in the first semi-final in Karachi after finishing second in their group. In a packed stadium, Australia batted first and produced 267/8, with David Boon’s 65 (91) leading the way. In response, Pakistan was on track in the chase until skipper Imran Khan (58 off 84) went out, leaving his team on 150/4. As a consequence, Australia triumphed by 18 runs, with Craig McDermott named Player of the Match for his 5/44 session.

Graham Gooch’s sweep theory for dealing with Indian spin attacks

In the second semi-final, India faced England in Mumbai. England was fully aware of the threat that Indian left-arm spinners Ravi Shastri and Maninder Singh would offer before the encounter. As a result, captain Mike Gatting and opener Graham Gooch decided to use their sweep theory’ against them.

Gooch spent two days batting against left-arm spinners and sweeping them in the nets to prepare for the game. The strategy paid off well, as Gooch (115 off 136) and Gatting (56 off 62) helped their side record 254/6 in the first inning.

England’s collapse in the final precipitated by Mike Gatting’s reverse sweep

England was 135/2 in reply, with skipper Mike Gatting (41 off 44) and Bill Athey at the crease. Border decided to join the assault after seeing his bowlers being hammered all over the ground. The strategy paid off when England captain Gatting intended to reverse sweep Border but ended up top-edging the ball, which hit his shoulder and was carried to wicketkeeper Greg Dyer.

Following Gatting’s dismissal, other batters failed to keep England in the chase, and England finally lost by 7 runs. As a result, Allan Border’s men won Australia’s inaugural World Cup and laid the groundwork for their future dominance in world cricket.

Final Thoughts

It was the first World Cup to be held outside of England, and it also saw the 50-over format being used for the first time. Millions of viewers watched the action worldwide, making the tournament a big success. 

In addition, the 1987 World Cup was remembered for its shocks and surprises. India and Pakistan, the pre-tournament favourites, were both defeated in the semifinals. Australia won the World Cup by defeating England by 7 runs in an exciting final. The 1987 Cricket World Cup was a successful and enduring competition. 

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