The World Cup featured 12 teams and almost everyone has one or more good exceptional performances. The World Cup was back to England after 16 years. But, West Indies and England were no more the strong teams of 1970s. Other teams were balanced and their were no favorites. The innovation of the tournament was onslaught in the first 15 overs by Sri Lankan openers which shocked their opponents.
The teams appeared equally balanced before the tournament (the top 5 teams). The individual performances later made the difference. While Lance Klusener was the star for South Africa and the tournament also (declared Player of the tournament), Shane Warne created the magic for Australia, Saeed Anwar used the willow powerfully for Pakistan, Neil Johnson surprised even Zimbabwe by his superb all-round performances, Geoff Allot for New Zealand and so on.
The hosts started well and looked set to reach the knockout stages but in the later phase other teams appeared more hungry and England could not even manage to reach the Super Sixes stage.
Sachin Tendulkar did hit another century in World Cup, Sourav Ganguly hit a huge century and grabbed 2 Man of the Match awards, Jadeja also hit a century, Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad gave a glimpse of their lethal bowling in some matches, yet it was the Wall, Rahul Dravid who remained consistent and became the highest scorer of the tournament. India did not reach semifinals. Yet, his score of 461 was the highest by any batsman.
Rules and South Africa find each other to hate. While in 1992 it was rain rule that denied South Africa a deserving place in finals, 1999 saw the rule of tie matches throwing South Africa out of the tournament, again in semifinal. The heroics of the star of the tournament, Lance Klusener, and one of the best bowlers in World history, Shaun Pollock could not take them into the finals, just because despite playing a tie, Australia sailed into final due to better net run rate before the semifinals. Unbelievable!!
Sri Lanka appeared to have lost its hunger and did not appear the same strong team specially that won the previous edition. Retirement of Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva made them a weaker side, again. They could not even qualify for the Super Sixes.
Zimbabwe was the suprise team of the tournament. Neil Johnson’s exceptional performance supported by Flower brothers and others provided Zimbabwe’s best ever performance in the World Cup. Irony that their best was still not enough to make them enter the semifinal.
New Zealand continued their good show in World Cup and reached the final, only to succumb meekly against the Pakistanis. Geoff Allott became the highest wicket-taker of the tournament with 20 wickets.
Pakistan, on the other hand, despite a setback against Bangladesh, looked good to win the tournament, unless they came across the Aussie in the final. Saeed Anwar looked settled and bowlers enjoyed the English conditions. Yet, in the final they danced on the spin of Warne and proved no competition to the Australians, who won their 2nd World Cup.
Australia has developed into a stron time. Shane Warne provided them lethal edge by making them dangerous even on slow pitches with magical spin. McGrath and brutal batsmen were already available to punish any team. The team developing into an undefeatable team faced some challenge from South Africa, but otherwise were the real and deserving champions of 1999 World Cup.