Everyone loves an underdog’s story. We love to see a story where a character who isn’t as powerful as his opponents but still goes on to secure victory. In cricket, there have been many instances where an underdog team has beaten a top side. But there are not many instances of underdog going on to win a tournament.
Let’s have a look at the instances when underdog teams went on to win the tournament:
5. Sri Lanka: World Cup 1996
Back in the 90s, Sri Lanka was not considered a cricket giant in the fraternity. But all of it changed after the 96 World Cup. The Sri Lankans, coached by Dav Whatmore and captained by Arjuna Ranatunga took the tournament by storm. Their openers Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana defined the true meaning of fearless cricket as they made full use of the power play which used to be 15 overs then. In their World Cup run, they defeated India in Kolkata in the semis and mighty Australians in the finals at Lahore. It was the first time a tournament host or co-host had won the cricket World Cup.
4. India: T20 World Cup 2007
Heading into the inaugural T20 World Cup, the Indian team was struggling from a cricket crisis. They had crashed out of the 2007 50-over World Cup in the group stage and all of their senior players had pulled out of the 20-over World Cup. MS Dhoni was leading a young Indian team and not many experts gave them much chance.
However, the Indian team proved everyone wrong and the underdogs for the tournament went all the way to win the tournament. In their World Cup run, they defeated mighty Australians in the semis, who were fresh of a World Cup win, and their arch-rivals Pakistan twice.
3. Australia: T20 World Cup 2021
When the 2021 T20 begin, none of the experts would have predicted that two non-Asian teams would reach the finals in UAE. Furthermore, not many experts gave Australia a chance to win the cup as they had lost their previous five T20I series. This was one of the rare occasions when Australia, a cricketing giant, went into a competition as underdogs. Their media and ex-cricketers were not considering them as favorites.
Former England skipper Michael Vaughan even didn’t consider Australia as his top four favorites for the cup. But as we know that the Australian team should never be written off. Except for their encounter against England, Australia won all their games comprehensively and defeated their neighbors New Zealand in the finals to lift their maiden T20 Cup.
2. Pakistan: Champions Trophy 2017
Before the start of the Champions Trophy 2017, Pakistan was ranked number 8 in the ODI rankings. Not many picked Pakistan as their pick for favorites for the tournament. They were hammered by Team India in the very first game. But as we all know that Pakistan is a very unpredictable side. On their day, they can beat the best side in the world. Also, once they pick up momentum, it is really difficult to stop them.
That’s exactly what happened in 2017. After the game against India, Pakistan picked such a momentum that it became impossible to stop them. They defeated South Africa, Sri Lanka, favorites England, and eventually India in the finals to win their first Champions Trophy. This underdogs story of a number 8th ranked side going on to win the tournament remains an inspiration.
1. India: World Cup 1983
The 1983 World Cup win was a major reason why legendary Indian cricketers of the modern era started playing cricket and why cricket became famous in India. India was not considered a major cricketing giant in the 70s and early 80s. The Indian team had talented players but didn’t consistently win matches away from home. When the 1983 World Cup began, it is a fact that even the Indian cricketers didn’t have much belief that they were going to win the tournament.
Even after they qualified for the finals, not many gave them a chance against mighty West Indies who had an impeccable side in the 80s and had won two consecutive World Cups. But the underdogs pulled the rabbit out of the hat and did what was considered unthinkable. India defended 183 runs in the final and won their maiden World Cup and became only the second country to win a world cup. Now, a movie is also under works for this underdog story.