World Cup History: Five rain-affected matches that changed the course of the tournaments

Smit N. Shah

The rain has played spoilsport in World Cup 2019 with four matches being completely affected

The earthy smell of the first rains refreshes the soul and fills it with happiness.

Rains bring smile on the weathered faces of farmers, kids come out with their paper boats, football fans hit the field and make those sliding tackles fearlessly, avid readers sit on the window reading their favourite novel, adventurous trekkers head out to get a spellbinding view of the nature and some have a sumptuous dose of their favourite beverage and snack.

But the cricket fans do mind rains. The most awaited tournament of this year - the World Cup 2019 is proving to be wringing wet with rains resulting in four matches so far ending in no-result as of 18th June.

Social media, TV news channels and newspapers were flooded with debates, discussions and analysis on the top team, best batsmen and bowler and who could be the X-factor - Archer, Pandya, Woakes, Carey, or Russell. Well as it turns out, rain is proving to be that X-factor, threatening to change the course of the tournament as it did in 1992 and 2003 World Cups.

Let us have a look at five such rain-affected matches during World Cups where rain played a crucial role.

#1 England vs South Africa - 1992, Sydney, Semi-final

England 252/6 (45), South Africa 232/6 (43)

England won by 20 runs as per the lowest scoring overs rain-rule.

The iconic scorecard showing the updated target for SA as per the questionable rain-rule

Perhaps the most unfortunate rain-affected match of all-time was the semifinal between England and South Africa. Proteas needing just 22 off 13 deliveries with 4 wickets in hand were looking good to storm into their first ever World Cup final. However, as the luck would have it, rain interrupted and post 12 minutes of delay the updated target as per the dubious rain rule was set to 21 off just one ball (incorrectly shown as 22 on the iconic scoreboard image.)

The obvious happened and England entered the finals.

Also read – Cricket World cup winners

#2 Pakistan vs England - 1992, Adelaide, Group stage

The rain gods helped Pakistan pip Australia to reach the semis in 1992 World Cup

Pakistan - 74/10 (40.2), England - 24/1 (8.0)

Match drawn

Rain in a crucial group stage match between Pakistan and England proved to be a blessing for Imran Khan-lead side as it helped them pip the defending champions Australia to reach the semis and consequently go on to reach the ultimate glory as well.

Pakistan was bundled out for a meagre 74 batting first. England after having rattled the Pakistan batting lineup was cruising to a victory when the rain gods interrupted in full force. Match had to be abandoned due to the downpour and Pakistan escaped from the jaws of defeat with a point.

A closer look at the points table shows how rains tugged Pakistan towards the semis while it was inching towards a crushing defeat. A big defeat here would have dented their NRR thus helping Australia qualify for the semis.

#3 South Africa vs Sri Lanka - 2003, Durban, Group stage

SL - 268/9 (50.0), SA - 229/9 (45.0, target - 230)

Match tied as per D/L

SA was heart-broken as it crashed out of the 2003 WC in front of the home crowd

One of the many heart-breaking and unfortunate moments in the lamentable South African cricket history at the ICC tournaments came in 2003 against Sri Lanka when a horrific miscalculation and rain interruption lead to proteas being thrashed out of the World Cup.

Chasing 269 in their do-or-die group stage encounter, the South African batsmen were aware of the fact that a storm is brewing nearby. As the drizzles started with SA needing 46 off 32, Mark Boucher smacked Muttiah Muralitharan for a six getting the total to 229.

The D/L par score read 229 and crowd along with the SA players incorrectly interpreted it as the winning score - which is actually at least a run more than the par score. Boucher pushed the next ball it to mid-wicket for no run assuming that the job was done. 

Unfortunately, the rain turned heavy and no further play was possible resulting in a tie and a cringe-worthy exit for South Africa.

#4 Pakistan vs Zimbabwe - 2003, Bulawayo, Group stage

A victory for Pakistan would have spiced up the fight for the 3rd place in the 2003 World Cup

Pakistan - 73/3 (14.0/38), Zimbabwe - 0/0 (0.0)

Match drawn

Although this match ostensibly appears to be a pretty straight forward case of the match getting abandoned due to rain and teams sharing two points each (4 points for a win), the rain interruption had a very significant role than it met the eye. 

As cricket fans, we all are quick as a calculator when it comes to cricket-related calculations. Digging deep into the points table and playing around with the numbers a little bit, the possible calculation if Pakistan would have gone onto win this encounter comprehensively would have taken Pakistan, England and Zimbabwe to 12 points each thus spicing up the fight for the third position. With a better NRR either Pakistan or England would have made it to the super sixes.

#5 West Indies vs Bangladesh - 2003, Benoni, Group stage

A win against Bangladesh would have helped West Indies to qualify for the super sixes

West Indies - 244/9 (50.0), Bangladesh - 32/2 (8.1)

Match drawn

It was one of the most important group stages matches for the mighty West Indies as it was vying for a place in Super Sixes. A closer look at the points table suggests that the rains came in as a blessing for the surprise package of the tournament - Kenya, which went onto reach the semi-finals.

With West Indies in solid form and Bangladesh languishing at the bottom of the table, the players from the Carribean were more likely to win the match and zip through to the next stage. A win there would have taken the Windies to the second position with 16 points and a better NRR compared to NZ, which would have led them to finish third.