“Pakistan supporters in the stands did not hesitate to show how delighted they were as they danced and cheered on every boundary. However, the celebration was short-lived when Aussie fast bowler Dennis Lillee began his carnage”
It’s been 44 long years since England hosted the first-ever Cricket World Cup in 1975 which back then was officially called The Prudential Cup. It was a massive success considering the weather and conditions that prevailed in England were fine for ODI cricket. Including two semi-finals and final, a total of 15 matches, each confined to 60 overs, were played between June 7 and June 21. The tournament witnessed a few one-sided contests among some epic and keenly fought matches.
As many as 8 teams participated in the multi-nation tournament and they were divided into two groups: Group A comprised of England, New Zealand, India and East Africa and Group B included West Indies, Australia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
While the initial Group A fixtures turned out to be one-sided, the opening encounter of Group B in the 1975 World Cup was a well-fought game that was played between Australia and Pakistan. It was for the very first time since 1966, the Leeds gates were closed with a crowd of approximately 22,000 inside for an upcoming amazing day of cricket. Aussie skipper Ian Chappell won the toss and opted to bat. The teams like England and New Zealand had scored 300-plus totals, while Australia only managed 278 for 7 in 60 overs.
Alan Turner and Rick McCosker shared a 60-plus opening stand before Pakistan pacer Asif Iqbal drew first blood. Turner was dismissed for 54-ball 46 leaving Australia at 63 for 1.
The next wicket to fall was Aussie captain Chappell off medium pacer Sarfraz Nawaz. A few more wickets fell before Ross Edwards walked to the crease and the demand of the situation was big hits. Until then, the Australians kept the ball on the ground but it remained the same even after the arrival of Edwards at No. 7. He displayed an excellent controlled batting as he picked the gaps with precision but there were instances when the fielders did not bother to move because of Edwards’ shots with brute power.
Australia’s total of 278 looked to be a defendable one when Pakistan’s Sadiq Mohammad, Zaheer Abbas and Mushtaq Mohammad failed. However, the duo of Asif Iqbal and Majid Khan showed the intent to fight and not give up. They played a calculated knock but there were a few edged shots, mistimed drives that were sent safely crossing the ropes and smashes that went past the third man for a boundary. Majid and his captain Asif brought up their respective half-centuries. Pakistan supporters in the stands did not hesitate to show how delighted they were as they danced and cheered on every boundary.
However, the celebration was short-lived when Aussie fast bowler Dennis Lillee began his carnage. Lillee, who made the first breakthrough by dismissing Sadiq, in his returning spell removed Pakistani captain Asif at 95-ball 53, leaving Pakistan at 181 for 5. While Max Walker removed middle-order batsman, Wasim Raja and Imran Khan, Lillee ran through the rest of Pakistan’s line-up. Following the dismissal of Asif, Pakistan were bundled out for a mere 16 runs and Australia won the match by 73 runs.
Prior to the World Cup, Lillee had impressed with all the speed he had produced in England in 1971 before he had suffered a back injury. Although Lillee was not the best bowler of the World Cup, he became the first-ever bowler in the history to pick a five-wicket haul in the ODIs, a feat he achieved against Pakistan in the 1975 World Cup at Leeds. Unfortunately, Lillee did not replicate the performance in the rest of the tournament. He managed to pick just three more wickets in the next four games he had played.
The Australian pace attack did not make much impact and that allowed West Indies to score 291 in the first innings of the final. Lillee managed to bag just one wicket but gave away 55 runs. Eventually, the Windies sealed the maiden World Cup by defeating the Aussies by 17 runs.
He is considered as one of the greatest pacers produced in the sport having picked 355 wickets in 70 Tests but he was not the same in the shorter format. By the time Lillee ended his career, he had played 63 ODIs and picked 103 wickets. But, his fifer in the 75′ World Cup remained his only 5-for in the 50-over format, while he had bagged five four-wicket hauls.