New Delhi :
After 1983, this was for the first time when India came so close to getting their hands on the World Cup title. India, led by Sourav Ganguly looked an all together different side as it was a good blen of youngsters and experienced campaigners. Ganguly's hunger to win games made players express their best possible game and as the tournament progressed, India were actually been able to maintain that momentum.
South Africa got its first taste of the ICC World Cup in 2003. It was an outstanding moment in their history, given that it had been only a shade over 11 years since their return to international cricket. On this occasion, ICC decided to increase the number of teams to 14. By then Bangladesh had also got Test status and the Associate Nations to make it to World Cup 2003 were Kenya, Namibia, Netherlands, and Canada.
The format of the tournament remained the same, but two extra teams increased the number of matches from 42 to 54. Zimbabwe hosted all six of their league matches and England declined to visit Zimbabwe as a form of protest against the Robert Mugabe Government, and gave a walkover to Zimbabwe. Nairobi were also allotted two matches, against New Zealand and Sri Lanka. Kenya got a walkover when New Zealand did not visit them on security grounds.
The walkovers turned out to be crucial, as both Zimbabwe and Kenya reached the Super Sixes. Since Sri Lanka and New Zealand both qualified, Kenya went in with full points, and a win against Zimbabwe ensured them a spot in the semi-final; they remain the only Associate Nation to reach the top four.
Drama unfolded before the World Cup in both Indian and Australian camps. While Indian players ran into a controversy with sponsor logos, Shane Warne missed the entire World Cup after he tested positive in a drug test before the tournament.There was more controversy during Zimbabwe’s first match of the tournament, against Namibia at Harare. Andy Flower and Henry Olonga donned black armbands as they took field as a protest against the Mugabe regime.
Both men left the country and pursued cricket careers elsewhere following the World Cup.South Africa started the tournament in familiar fashion, with that man Brian Lara delivering the knockout punch. They also bowed out on a low because they miscalculated the Duckworth-Lewis numbers. Both England and Pakistan were knocked out in the league stage, as were West Indies.Australia played in spectacular fashion, winning all 11 of their matches without being bowled out once.
They were troubled by England and New Zealand, both matches being played at St George’s Park, but eventually won in both. Though India won nine of their 11 matches, two one-sided defeats tell the story: there was daylight between Australia and India, and probably more daylight between India and the others. In the end, India was upstaged by the Australian by a huge margin to clinch their third World Cup title.
Most Runs: Sachin Tendulkar of India - 673 runs
Most wickets: Chaminda Vaas of Sri Lanka - 23 wickets
Venue: South Africa