The 12th edition of the ICC World Cup begins on May 30th, with hosts England taking on South Africa in the opener. Every team plays each other once in the group stages. Afghanistan and Bangladesh are, again, the two lesser ODI teams capable of causing some big upsets. West Indies, in a way, start as “minnows” too, with each of them capable of beating the other team of any given day. Bangladesh even reached the quarterfinal of the 2015 Cricket World Cup, and are coming on the back of their first multi-nation tournament win in Ireland.

In the spirit of possible upsets, let’s take a look at some of the most memorable underdog tales in Cricket World Cup history:


Of course, the first of the grandest upsets occurred on the grandest stage in cricket. The World Cup final, in only the third World Cup ever. Earlier in the tournament, minnows Zimbabwe had caused a few flutters by defeating Australia and almost having India in their net until Kapil Dev scored a legendary (untelevised) 175. When Kapil and his men entered the final, it was already a miracle. India had won just 1 game in the previous two World Cups and hadn’t taken to limited-overs cricket like West Indies, Australia, and England. After scoring 183 in the first innings, nobody gave them a chance. Indian fans were just enjoying their team reaching so far after already upsetting the two-time World Champions once in the group stages. But India bowled out the mighty West Indians for 140, with perhaps one of the most iconic images of World Cup history occurring when Kapil Dev, while running backward, caught the Viv Richards skier.


Nobody expected a thing when Kenya, in their first ever World Cup, was bowled out for 166. But if there was ever a precise trigger moment for that infamous West Indian decline – which is still in process 23 years later – it is this match. 93 is a number nobody will forget because the star-studded West Indian team’s batting performance was easily the biggest shock of an exciting World Cup. 93 all out. And it wasn’t the first upset for little Kenya.


Pakistan reached the 1999 World Cup final. But the biggest upset of the World Cup also involved them. Bangladesh was playing its first-ever World Cup, and they scored 223 against a bowling attack that had Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib, and Saqlain. It wasn’t a bad score, but Pakistan were expected to chase it down easily. Three hours later, and three run-outs later, Pakistan were blown away for 161. Fortunately for them, they went on to beat Australia and New Zealand on the way to the final. But Bangladesh cricket had its first great moment in 1999.

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📅 20 years ago today, the 1999 World Cup got underway!

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Kenya reached the semifinals of the 2003 World Cup, against all odds. They were the only African team and the only non-Test nation to reach the last four in Africa’s first World Cup. One of the main reasons was its match forfeited by New Zealand, but also its performance against Sri Lanka, a team that always punches above its weight in ICC tournaments. Kenya defeated Canada, New Zealand, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka in its group stages – and then Zimbabwe in the Super six stages to confirm its semifinal spot. The scorecard against Sri Lanka was similar to most underdog victories. A modest 210, followed by Sri Lanka capitulating for less than 160. Both teams reached the semifinals and lost, but it was Kenya’s World Cup, making a case for “minnows” to be included in all editions.


Bangladesh and Ireland were the two teams playing each other in perhaps the most anticipated pre-World Cup date in the Super Eights of 2007. The two original teams: India and Pakistan. Bangladesh upset India, and Ireland demolished Pakistan soon after in the group stages – making for the two shocks of the year. But perhaps a shock that went under the radar was Bangladesh’s defeat of superpower South Africa in the Super Eights (Bangladesh lost to Ireland). Scoring 251 was enough for a South African team that collapsed for 184, making for an even bigger upset than the India and Pakistan disasters because of the pedigree of the team.

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#OnThisDay in 2007, @bangladeshtigers stunned India!

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Remember the name: Kevin O’ Brien. The fastest ever century in World Cup history came in 50 balls, against the wall. It was stunning enough that a team languishing at 111/5 came back to chase down 328, even more so when the team was Ireland, and the opponents, England. Andrew Strauss and his men will never forget the way Ireland pulled off perhaps the most heartwarming victory in World Cup history. O’ Brien’s unbeaten 113 went down as the best of the year.

Special Mentions:
Bangladesh beats England (2015)
Zimbabwe beats Australia (1983)
India beats West Indies (1983)
Sri Lanka beats India (1979)

While you wait to witness the ICC World Cup 2019, explore the most exciting sports events near you here.