1987 FINAL: England vs Australia
Australia won by 7 runs
David Boon had been scoring at will in the tournament and he did the same in the final scoring a fluent 75 to give Border's men a great start. Marsh and Dean Jones to contributed well for the Aussies.
But after a good start, Neil Foster and Eddie Hemmings kept it tight for England in the middle overs. Allan Border and Mike Veletta took the attack to the opposition scoring at a good pace in the final overs and the last six overs were the best adding 65 more to the total.
England lost Robinson early but Athey and Gooch settled down and scored at a decent pace. After Gooch was sent back it was skipper Mike Gatting who took control of the innings scoring 41 off 45 balls. But a moment of madness from him handed back the initiative to Australia. Trying to reverse sweep Border's first ball, Gatting gave an easy catch to keeper Dyer.
With Steve Waugh running out Athey, it was left to Allan Lamb to try and win the World Cup for England. That was not to be as Waugh got rid of him in the penultimate over and 17 needed off the last was too much as Australia won the match by 7 runs and the Reliance World Cup along with that.
1992 FINAL: England vs Pakistan
Pakistan won by 22 runs
It was a match which signalled the end of an era and the start of a new one. Imran Khan played his last and passed the baton to the beholders of the next generation in Pakistani cricket.
England led by Graham Gooch were a group of seasoned cricketers who had hit a purple patch right before the showpiece event and looked to carry that through it. But they met their nemesis in the final. A Pakistan team, handpicked by Imran started on the worst possible note in the tournament (winning only one of their five matches), but the great leader inspired them to 5 successive wins thereafter.
With the possibility of rain looming large over the contest, Imran won the toss and decided to bat first. After losing two early wickets, the old warhorses - Imran and Miandad, stringed a partnership that was slow to begin but then picked up pace. By the time Imran had departed, Pakistan were touching 200. It was then left to the big-hitting talent of Inzamam and Wasim Akram to take Pakistan to a challenging total of 249 at the end of 50 overs.
England's top order stumbled as they lost Botham and Stewart in quick succession early on to Wasim and Aaqib Javed. Gooch and Hick tried to steady the ship but Mushtaq Ahmed's leg-spin was too much to handle for the duo. With England needing close to a run-a-ball, Allan Lamb and Neil Fairbrother started a rearguard.
Wasim Akram then produced two magical balls to account for Lamb and Lewis. Fairbrother departed soon and Imran Khan completed his magnanimous triumph by picking up the last wicket of Illingworth. An entire nation cheered their heroes.
1999 SF: Australia vs South Africa
Two of the most consistent teams at the turn of the century met in a semi-final clash which can qualify as one of the most exciting and keenly contested limited overs international ever played on the big stage.
Cronje put the Australians in to bat and Shaun Pollock, at his incisive best ensured that his captain had taken the right decision as he sent back Mark Waugh for a duck. Allan Donald too was at his menacing best picking two wickets in an over to leave the Aussies reeling.
Skipper Steve Waugh started a repair job with Michael Bevan, who was by now his team's troubleshooter for such difficult situations (remember he bailed the Australians out of a similar slide in the 1996 semi-final against the West Indies).
But Pollock struck again to remove Waugh for a well-made 56. Bevan batted on with the tail and was the last man out for 65 as Australia folded for 213.
Gibbs and Kirsten had given South Africa a settled start when Shane Warne decided to turn the contest on its head. Two vicious leg-spinners disturbed the stumps and the sound of timber was juxtaposed with Warne's war cry as the openers were sent back. Cronje was next to depart as Warne's first spell of 8 overs produced only 12 runs.
Jacques Kallis scored a cool fifty and was ably supported by Jhonty Rhodes (43). But the task became difficult as Kallis and Pollock were sent back in quick succession. But even as wickets kept falling and the asking rate kept increasing, Lance Klusener on the other end continued his savage hitting as he had done throughout the tournament.
With 9 needed off the last Fleming over and one wicket in hand, Klusener clobbered two half-volleys to the boundary to take the Proteas to the brink of the final needing 1 off 4 balls. Steve Waugh then set a field that looked like a maze, something that must have got the 'Zulu' warrior thinking. Klusener tried a cheeky single the next ball and Donald backing up too far was given a life as Lehmann missed the stumps.
Klusener repeated the mistake as he charged for a quick single the next ball. Donald was late to react, Mark Waugh threw the ball to Fleming from mid-on who rolled it onto Gilchrist who in turn broke the stumps. The match had ended in a tie but the Australians were over-joyed. They were placed higher than South Africa in the Super Six table due to a better net run-rate and hence proceeded to the final at Lord's.
Cronje, Woolmer and the rest of the green brigade deserved better than going out to a technicality.
2003: West Indies vs South Africa
West Indies won by 3 runs
South Africa had announced themselves as the grand hosts of the 2003 edition with a spectacular opening ceremony and the first match had to be grand as well and it was.
Pollock (now captain) reduced West Indies to 7/2 which brought Brian Lara out to the wicket. He and Chanderpaul started a partnership at a painstackingly slow pace. But the Lara was getting in his groove for a master-class. The left-hander changed gears in the second half of the innings and raced to a 116 off 134 balls with able support from Carl Hooper.
The islanders ended with a flourish as Powell and Sarwan got stuck into the Protean attack and a final total of 278 was more than challenging at Newlands.
Gary Kirsten was perfect in his role as the sheet anchor but wickets kept falling around him.Â Mark Boucher hit out to give the innings the much needed impetus. Lance Klusener looked to carry on from 1999 exploits and when he reached a quick fifty, the hosts were the favourites.
But Klusener's last over curse struck again as he was caught out. Nicky Boje and the tailenders could not get the 8 needed off the last five balls and West Indies won by 3 runs.
2007 FINAL: Australia vs Sri Lanka
Australia won by 53 runs (DL Method)
Australia were on a different pedestal than the rest of the other teams. And there was ample manifestation of that throughout this tournament as they remained unbeaten to reach the final. They looked to win their third straight World Cup title and second under the leadership of Ricky Ponting.
But they had a last hurdle to cross. A talented Sri Lankan squad with the stylish Mahela Jayawardene at the helm and their own set of match-winners in Muralitharan, Malinga and Sangakkara.
The match was curtailed to 38 overs due to rain. When the Australian openers came out to bat, everyone was looking at the burly Hayden and his broad willow, which had produced the maximum number of runs in the tournament. But it was his other left-handed partner who stole the show.
Adam Gilchrist saw off a tight opening spell from Lasith Malinga and then launched an attack that reduced the Lankan attack to smithereens. Dispatching the bowlers too all parts of the park with extreme disdain, Gilchrist plundered 149 runs in 104 balls hitting 13 fours and 8 sixes. The rest did not matter but added to the scorecard which read 281 at the end of 38 painful overs for Sri Lanka.
Jayasuriya and Sangakkara played good knocks but it was always a close to impossible job to chase down the colossal target. Rain intervened again and the final few overs were a complete farce as they were played in pitch darkness with the Lankans already having surrendered to fate.
Ponting and his men won by 53 runs via the D/L method and were deservingly crowned the Champions of the World, again!