Brendon McCullum's blazing starts had been instrumental in New Zealand reaching the World Cup final for the first time, but it was his wicket — yorked by Mitchell Starc for a third-ball duck — that foreshadowed Australia's victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
New Zealand labored for 183 from 45 overs and Australia raced to 186-3 in 33 overs with Steve Smith unbeaten on 56 and skipper Michael Clarke posting 74 in his last one-dayer before retiring. After winning titles in India, England, South Africa and in the Caribbean, it was Australia's first World Cup triumph on home soil.
Starc and New Zealander Trent Boult took 22 wickets apiece to lead the bowling charts, with Starc also earning the award for player of the tournament. New Zealander Martin Guptill topped the run-scoring list with 547 runs in a tournament that featured two groups of seven teams, with the top four in each advancing to the quarterfinals.
Boult pipped Starc for the player of the match in their dramatic group-stage encounter which New Zealand won by a wicket in Auckland, taking 5-27 from 10 overs to help dismantle Australia for 151. The New Zealanders were in total control at 78-1 until McCullum was out for 50 and Starc tore through the lower order to return 6-28. With one wicket in the balance and six runs needed, No. 11 Boult hung on with Kane Williamson to get the Kiwis across the line.
As if that wasn't close enough, it took Grant Elliott's big, driven six off the penultimate ball of the semifinal from pace spearhead Dale Steyn to extend New Zealand's plucky run in the tournament and inflict yet another painful World Cup blow to South Africa.
India's title defense ended in a lopsided semifinal loss to Australia. Other features of the tournament were Bangladesh's charge to the quarterfinals, and England's absence from the last eight.
2011 India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh
Final: India def. Sri Lanka by 6 wickets
Sachin Tendulkar finally picked up a World Cup trophy to add to his glittering list of personal cricket triumphs, and claimed it was the highlight of his career.
Sri Lanka won the toss — in unusual circumstances after a second flip of the coin was required because the match referee couldn't hear Kumar Sangakkara's first call — and posted 274-6 after a brilliant 103 from veteran Mahela Jayawardena at Wankhede Stadium.
India was in trouble early after losing Virender Sehwag (0) and Tendulkar (18) but Gautam Gambhir (97) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (91) shared a 109-run stand to guide the home team to victory — Dhoni capping it by driving a six down the ground for the winning runs in the final and then twirling his bat in one hand.
Tendulkar missed out on scoring his 100th international century that day — he posted his 99th in the semifinal victory over archrival Pakistan — but was still hoisted onto the shoulders of his teammates as they did a victory lap.
"He carried the hopes of the nation for 21 years, so it's time we carried him on our shoulders," India batsman Virat Kohli said.
India was the first team to win the World Cup on home soil.
For Tendulkar, it was a first title in six World Cups. For India, it was a first in 28 years.
"It's the ultimate thing and I'm experiencing it," Tendulkar said. "I couldn't have asked for anything better. It's the proudest moment of my life."
India was an early favorite but had to take a hard route to the title. The group stage included a high-scoring tie with England in Bangalore — both teams scoring 338 — and a loss to South Africa.
Yuvraj Singh starred in a quarterfinal win at Ahmedabad that ended Australia's run of World Cup titles at three, and contributed to his selection as player of the tournament.
Sri Lanka reached the final after beating England in the quarterfinals and then having a semifinal win over New Zealand.
2007 West Indies
Final: Australia def. Sri Lanka by 53 runs
Australia clinched an unprecedented third consecutive World Cup title after a rain-reduced final that ended in farcical circumstances in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Adam Gilchrist smashed 149 — posting the fastest century and highest score in a World Cup final — as Australia scored 281-4 from 38 overs.
Sri Lanka was 206-7 with three overs to go when its two batsmen left the field amid dark and overcast conditions, prompting celebrations among the Australians and the crowd, who thought the game was over.
After some confusion on the field, the batsmen returned and the game resumed in near darkness.
Lasith Malinga was subsequently run out and the final few balls were played out in surreal circumstances as Sri Lanka had no hope of victory.
"It's a bit dark, but I'm loving every minute of it," said veteran Australia paceman Glenn McGrath, who then retired from international cricket.
The tournament was overshadowed by the death of Pakistan's England-born coach Bob Woolmer. Woolmer was found unconscious in his hotel room the day after Pakistan's shocking loss to Ireland in the group stage, sparking a homicide investigation in Jamaica.
Jamaican authorities initially said Woolmer had been strangled. In an embarrassing reversal, police later said experts concluded he died of natural causes.
The group-stage exits of Pakistan and India also detracted from the tournament, while some individual performances left marks that will take a long time to beat.
Herschelle Gibbs became the first batsman to hit six sixes in an over in international cricket when he repeatedly hit Dutch legspinner Daan van Bunge out of the ground in the 30th over of a group match at St. Kitts.
South Africa was on the receiving end of a record when Sri Lanka's Malinga took four wickets with four consecutive balls — also a first.
South Africa needed four runs to win and had five wickets in hand before Malinga's burst turned what should have been a comfortable victory into a tense, last-over, one-wicket win.
2003 South Africa
Final: Australia def. India by 125 runs
After cruising through the tournament unbeaten, Australia became only the second team to retain the World Cup when it beat India in a lopsided final at Johannesburg.
Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden shared an opening partnership of 105 from 14 overs. Captain Ricky Ponting then smashed 140 from 121 balls in a man-of-the-match performance to steer Australia to 359-2 from 50 overs — a record for a World Cup final.
Glenn McGrath had Sachin Tendulkar out caught-and-bowled in the first over of India's reply. The rain offered India hope of respite, but conditions improved and McGrath finished with 3-52 as India was dismissed for 234.
"When World Cups come around, you've got to play your best when it counts, and we've done that," Ponting said.
The success was also notable for the absence of star spinner Shane Warne, who was sent home the day before Australia's opening match after testing positive for a banned diuretic.
The first World Cup in Africa was co-hosted by South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya. Kenya provided the surprise of the tournament by beating Sri Lanka on the way to an appearance in the semifinals.
But the success of Kenya and Zimbabwe in an interminable tournament that required 42 games to narrow the field from 14 teams to six owed much to the refusal of England and New Zealand to play in those countries because of security concerns.
The African nations won the fixtures by walkovers. Zimbabwe also reached the second-round Super Six stage.
1999 England and Wales
Final: Australia def. Pakistan by 8 wickets
Shane Warne was the star with four wickets in the final as Australia bowled out Pakistan for 132 at Lord's and eased to 133-2 from 20 overs thanks to Adam Gilchrist's 54 from 36 balls.
Australia's first World Cup title since 1987 confirmed its status as cricket's premier limited-overs lineup but it was its two matches against South Africa that went down in cricketing folklore.
Australia won the teams' first meeting in the inaugural Super Sixes stage by five wickets, with Steve Waugh scoring a match-winning 120. The Australia captain was dropped by a prematurely celebrating Herschelle Gibbs when he was on 56 and was said to have told the South African, "You've just dropped the World Cup."
Waugh denied saying it, but the comment rang true after the teams met in the semifinals.
With victory in sight, South Africa's Allan Donald was run out with two balls left following a miscommunication with allrounder Lance Klusener. The match ended in a tie, with both teams on 213 all out, allowing Australia to advance by virtue of its win in the earlier head-to-head match.
After two losses in its first three matches, Australia simply hit form at the right time and rode its luck.
Host England and the fading West Indies were knocked out in the first round of the 12-team tournament.
1996 Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka
Final: Sri Lanka def. Australia by 7 wickets
Aravinda da Silva's all-round brilliance inspired Sri Lanka to its first World Cup title.
Da Silva claimed three wickets, including those of danger men Mark Taylor and Ricky Ponting, and two catches as Australia struggled to 241-7 in the final at Lahore.
The allrounder then sealed his third man-of-the-match award of the tournament with an unbeaten 107 as Sri Lanka reached its victory target with ease.
Sri Lanka's surprising and emotional win ensured the event at least ended on a high note.
The sixth Cricket World Cup exasperated fans with its seemingly interminable group stage, which lasted three weeks and took in 29 matches before only eliminating Zimbabwe, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates, and the Netherlands.
Australia and West Indies forfeited their group games in Colombo following a terrorist bombing in the city three weeks earlier.
Perhaps the most memorable moment of the group stage was provided by Kenya's rotund wicketkeeper, Tariq Iqbal, who put a series of errors behind him with a catch to dismiss Brian Lara in his team's shocking 73-run win over West Indies.
But the tournament reached another low in the semifinal at Calcutta when India's fans, outraged by their team's slide to 120-8 in reply to Sri Lanka's 251-8, began throwing bottles onto the pitch and lighting fires in the stands.
The game was abandoned, leaving batsman Vinod Kambli in tears and Sri Lanka, with a then revolutionary attacking gameplan, to take the glory in the final.
1992 Australia and New Zealand
Final: Pakistan def. England by 22 runs
Pakistan lifted the World Cup for the first time with a 22-run win over England in front of a crowd of 87,182 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Imran Khan (72) and Javed Miandad (58) helped Pakistan set a target of 250, and Wasim Akram took crucial wickets in the reply as England fell short, sparking jubilant scenes on the streets of Pakistan.
"It was one of the biggest days in Pakistan cricket history," Khan said later.
This World Cup was the first to feature colored clothing, a white ball, and matches under floodlights.
Defending champion Australia missed out on the semifinals, partly because of a shock loss to New Zealand, which was eventually beaten by Pakistan in the last four.
South Africa's return to international competition after 21 years of isolation was a success as Kepler Wessels' squad opened with a dominant win over Australia on its way to the semifinals.
But its campaign ended in bizarre fashion when, needing 22 from 13 balls to beat England, a heavy shower in Sydney delayed play. The rules at the time to recalculate targets in rain-affected matches left South Africa needing 21 from one ball. The ensuing controversy eventually led to the introduction of the Duckworth/Lewis Method of revising targets.
1987 India and Pakistan
Final: Australia def. England by 7 runs
Australia's enthralling seven-run win over England put the seal on a memorable World Cup.
Captain Allan Border was carried on the shoulders of his teammates at Calcutta's Eden Gardens after leading the team to its first World Cup title, Australia's total of 253 proving just out of reach for Mike Gatting's England lineup.
The first World Cup outside England was also the first to be reduced from 60 to 50 overs for each innings.
Chetan Sharma recorded the first hat-trick in a World Cup in India's nine-wicket win over New Zealand in a group-stage round which delivered several thrilling encounters.
Pakistan's 15-run win over Sri Lanka set the tone; Australia beat India by one run; England scored 35 runs in the last three overs to beat West Indies; New Zealand avoided an almighty upset by edging rookie Zimbabwe by three runs.
England, with a win over India, and Australia, which beat Pakistan, put paid to the co-hosts' hopes in the semifinals before Border's lineup, propelled by David Boon's 75, prevailed in a hotly contested final to start a golden era for Australian cricket.
Final: India def. West Indies by 43 runs
India caused a major upset in world cricket by lifting the trophy at Lord's against a West Indies side that had won the two previous editions and featured Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd and Desmond Haynes.
Having successfully negotiated the group stage, in which teams played each other twice, India made short work of England in the semifinals with a six-wicket victory at Old Trafford.
The West Indies were even more impressive, though, in limiting Pakistan to 184 before cruising past the victory target for the loss of just two wickets at The Oval.
Richards scored 80 runs from a 96-ball knock, while Malcolm Marshall led the bowling with 3-28.
The performances seemed to leave little room for doubt about the final, and even less after India could only reach 183 runs after losing the toss.
However, things started to go wrong for the all-conquering West Indies after Haynes' dismissal left his team on 50-2. Two catches by Kapil Dev, one featuring a memorable 20-meter dash, removed Richards and Lloyd, as Mohinder Amarnath (3-12) and Madan Lal (3-31) ripped through the West Indies batting order.
The Windies were all out for 140 with eight overs to spare in what was a stunning result, and a defining moment, for Indian cricket.
Final: West Indies def. England by 92 runs
The West Indies were favorites and worthy winners, helped in the final by the brilliance of Viv Richards and Collis King at the crease, and a batting collapse by the hosts that was spectacular even by England standards.
In a promising start, bowlers Mike Hendrick and Chris Old appeared to have the reigning champions in some trouble at 99-4. But a swashbuckling 86 off 66 balls from King and an inspired knock by Richards, who went on to finish unbeaten on 138, added 139 runs for the next wicket.
Set a victory target of 287, Mike Brearley and Geoff Boycott put runs on the board — but did so far too slowly.
England needed 38 overs to reach 129 for the first wicket and even Graham Gooch's best efforts failed to make a decisive impact.
From 183-2, England's batsmen added just 11 runs for the next eight wickets as the West Indies retained their title.
There was no room in the semifinals for a below-strength team from Australia, whose best players were all absent due to their contracts with Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket.
Final: West Indies def. Australia by 17 runs
The inaugural two-week tournament was seen at the time as a major innovation for the sport. Eight teams were divided into two round-robin groups of four, with the top two advancing to the semifinals before a showcase final at Lord's.
Sides such as the West Indies and Australia flourished in the 60-over format, while other test nations struggled to grasp the need for quick runs.
India's Sunil Gavaskar memorably plodded through all 60 overs against England, scoring just 36 runs in a heavy group stage defeat.
Australia beat host England in the semifinals after a superb display by Gary Gilmour, whose bowling figures of 6-14 remain a World Cup record and whose 28 runs in as many balls helped seal a four-wicket victory.
The West Indies went one better, beating New Zealand by five wickets in the other semifinal, to line up a decider in which Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards dominated the pace attack of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson.
Lloyd's 102 in an innings total of 291 had Australia under pressure right from the start, while Richards' three run outs — among a remarkable total of five — decided an entertaining contest.
A series of pitch invasions by an impatient crowd marred the closing stages, with umpire Dickie Bird losing his hat in the final jubilant surge.
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