There are usually upsets at any World Cup. Australia being knocked over by Zimbabwe in 1983 was the most celebrated in the cricketing version for a very long time.
Thirteen years in fact.
In 1996, the Kenyans were such massive underdogs against the West Indies that bookmakers were quoting odds of 16 to 1 for the African side. Even at that price, not one person had a punt on them.
On paper this was no mug West Indian side, but in reality they were a team in complete disarray, with the knives out for skipper Richie Richardson during the tournament. After beating Zimbabwe, they were ugly in their loss to India, and then forfeited their match in Colombo against Sri Lanka.
However, Kenya’s first three games showed little of what was about to come. They were comfortably dispatched by both Australia and India, before also losing by five wickets to Zimbabwe. It’s fair to say that confidence levels may have been a little deflated by the time they arrived at Pune on the 29th February 1996.
Richardson won the toss, and inserted the Kenyans. 49.3 overs later things were going to plan for the Windies, who had toppled the Kenyans for just 166. Courtney Walsh dismantled the top order, and Ambrose, Bishop and Harper put them to the sword.
Steve Tikolo – the only professional in the side – top scored with 29, although the real high score came by way of 37 extras. In an ominous sign for the men from the Caribbean, this consisted of 14 wides and 13 no balls.
At this point it was looking like a cakewalk. God knows what they had for lunch, but the West Indies darkest hour was about to strike.
Boasting a batting line up that contained Richardson, Lara, Chanderpaul, Arthurton and Adams, this was going to be a romp. Even after both openers had been dismissed with the score at 22, there was no way that the rest of the order couldn’t turn it around.
Enter Brian Lara, just the man for a crisis.
He smacked the first ball to the boundary, and looked to be his tempestuous self. He carried on like a man possessed for a grand total of 11 deliveries – the last of which he edged to Tariq Iqbal, one of the most ordinary wicketkeepers in World Cup history. To everyone’s surprise, including his teammates from all accounts, Iqbal took the catch and Lara was out for 8.
It was a performance from Lara that attracted widespread condemnation from all corners. There was a complete lack of respect, with the late Peter Roebuck moved to label the innings as part of a “pathetic and arrogant performance”.
Chanderpaul and Harper made 19 and 17 respectively – nobody other than extras contributed a double figure score. After 35.2 overs, the embarrassment was complete, the West Indians capitulating for just 93 and Kenya winning by 73 runs.
Richardson was so shaken that he could provide no comment after the game. He did speak to the media the following day and apologised on behalf of the team, but his next announcement came six days later. It was his resignation.
Despite this abomination, the West Indians somehow rallied to make the semi-finals. But things didn’t get a lot better. After taking four early Australian wickets for just 15 runs, the West Indians restricted them to just 207. Cruising at 165/2, batsmen number 5 to 11 contributed 2, 1, 2, 0, 3, 2 and 0. They choked and were dismissed five runs short of their total.
But semi-final or no semi-final, the West Indians of 1996 will be remembered for just one thing. A match riddled with complacency and arrogance that gave Kenya their first World Cup win.