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One-day cricket--as opposed to five-day Test cricket, the main form of the game since 1877--has won huge spectator support worldwide, although players were initially reluctant to accept the abbreviated, accelerated sport. The first World Cup was "a novelty", says Australian batsman Doug Walters, whose team lost the final to the West Indies. "We didn't treat it all that seriously." The West Indians won £4,000 in 1975, beating seven other teams to the title over the course of 15 matches. This year's World Cup--involving 12 teams, to be played over 38 days with 42 matches in five countries--will deliver $300,000 to the winning team, from a total prize pool of

$1 million. The battle will reach beyond two teams on a cricket field: it will also be between cricket's past and its future.

That future may be glimpsed in the shadows of Delhi's Red Fort, once the home of Mughal emperors but now backdrop to street cricket games between urchin boys. Most of the players have no shoes; their bat is held together by twine and tape. A hard cork ball is aimed at "wickets" painted in whitewash on the fort's ancient walls. When a batsman executes a perfect pull shot, passengers on a bus gridlocked nearby break into applause. "Maybe we should charge everybody one rupee to watch," says Sukhdev, the 8-year-old son of a rickshaw driver, who's waiting for his turn to bat. "If they're going to disturb our concentration, they could at least pay."

Only one house in Sukhdev's slum neighborhood has a color television; for the five weeks of the tournament it will be filled with visitors. Neighbors have discussed hiring a portable generator in case the electricity supply is cut during a game. Says Sukhdev: "It will be a grand show."

Throughout India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, preparations for the World Cup began months before the event. Since the beginning of the year, it has dominated media coverage and dining-room conversation. In the subcontinent, even the most casual follower of the game seems to absorb enormous amounts of information about the players and their performances. How many times has Sri Lanka's Asanka Gurusinghe scored more than 50 runs in a one-day game? Any Colombo schoolboy knows the answer: 49. What was Indian batsman Mohinder Amarnath's good-luck charm? "Easy--a red handkerchief in his back pocket," says Bombay businessman Ashish Wig.

PAGE 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5


May 17, 1999

Days of Glory
Once a novelty, the one-day showcase now delivers the best contest on earth, thanks in large part to the passion and excellence of the game's Asian exponents

Who's Who
A look at some of the game's top batsmen

World Cup Finals
The memorable matches which set the stage for World Cup 1999

This edition's table of contents | TIME Asia home



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

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