The ICC ODI Cricket World Cup came to India and Pakistan in 1987 for its fourth edition. The same eight teams of 1983 World Cup participated in the 1987 event with the same format of each team playing against the other team twice in the group.
Defending champions and Co-hosts India were in group A with Australia, New Zealand and Zimbabwe. Other co-hosts Pakistan faced the challenge of two-time winners West Indies, England and Sri Lanka in group B.
Contrary to 60-over innings in the first three editions, this World Cup was the first to have 50 overs in an innings.
Pakistan and India both started as favourites and lived up to the expectations by topping their respective groups.
India lost just once in the group-stage, a 1-run defeat against Australia at Chennai in one of the classic World Cup encounters. India convincingly won in the next meeting against the Aussies and also won the remaining four games against New Zealand and Zimbabwe.
In the last game against New Zealand in Nagpur, India had to win convincingly to avoid playing the semi-final in Pakistan, Sunil Gavaskar scored his only ODI hundred to ensure a home semi-final, in the same game against New Zealand Chetan Sharma took the first hat-trick of World Cup history.
Zimbabwe finished the tournament with no win, they did have one close game against New Zealand when they lost by just 3 runs courtesy a brilliant 142 by David Houghton. New Zealand had their moments in the World Cup but eventually the Kiwis finished with wins only against Zimbabwe.
The New Zealanders were within sight of victory against Australia in one of the matches but Steve Waugh won the game with the ball in last over as he had done against India. New Zealand badly missed the services of their ace bowler Richard Hadlee.
So, India and Australia both finished with 10 points with the hosts topping the group on Net Run Rate.
Pakistan, one of the title contenders won five out of six games but did face some serious challenge from opposition.
In the opening game against Sri Lanka at Niaz stadium in Hyderabad, Javed Miandad scored century but then Roshan Mahanama and Aravinda de Silva threatened the run-chase with some brave batting, however Pakistan with their experience triumphed at the end.
In Rawalpindi, England were cruising towards a win but Abdul Qadir inspired Pakistan to a dramatic victory.
Gaddafi stadium hosted a memorable encounter between Pakistan and West Indies, the hosts struggling in the run-chase and Courtney Walsh was bowling the last over. Courtney Walsh not mankading Salim Jaffer became one of the iconic moments in cricket ever, Abdul Qadir hit a six in the last over and Pakistan sealed the victory by one wicket.
The two remaining wins for Pakistan came against Sri Lanka at Iqbal stadium and England at National stadium. England though lost both their games against Pakistan but defeated both Sri Lanka and West Indies twice.
Probably the best English win came against West Indies in Gujranwala where Allan Lamb masterminded a stunning run-chase from a hopeless position. The finalist of first three World Cups West Indies failed to qualify for semis as they ended up with three wins. West Indian skipper Viv Richards did play a sparkling innings of 181 vs Sri Lanka in Karachi.
Once the semi-final line-up completed, the majority of the cricket experts and fans predicted the final between joint hosts India and Pakistan. However, rather than an Indo-Pak final, it became a final between Ashes rivals as both host nations lost the semi-finals at home.
In the first semi-final, the Australians led by Alan Border defeated Pakistan by 18 runs at Gaddafi stadium in Lahore. Craig McDermott took the only five-wicket haul of the competition in semi-final.
The second semi-final was a repeat of 1983 semi as the defending champions India faced England at Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. Graham Gooch struck a superb hundred and then the English bowlers kept the Indians in check to win by 35 runs.
Eden Gardens in Kolkata hosted the final on 8th of November 1987 and Alan Border decided to bat after winning the toss.
David Boon top-scored with 75 as Australia finished at 253. Mike Gatting & Bill Athey stitched a fine partnership in run-chase but then came the famous reverse-sweep dismissal of English skipper Mike Gatting.
England eventually finished seven runs short and Australia won their first World Cup. Just like India in 1983, Australia winning the 1987 World Cup was a story for the ages as Australians were not considered as favourites in Asian conditions.
Graham Gooch finished as the leading scorer of the competition with 471 & Craig McDermott’s 18 wickets were most in the event.
The 1987 Reliance World Cup in India and Pakistan was a memorable one as the group-stage produced some thrilling matches.