The world's premier cricket tournament that is not the IPL (hehe) has seen its fair share of great innings and spectacular bowling performances, and most of us who count ourselves as cricket fans would be able to name at least five of each without breaking into a sweat or needing to consult Cricinfo.
But what about the worst collapses? What of matches where wickets have tumbled like N Srinivasan's credibility? Let's have a look at some of them. This list does not include total low scores made by minnows, like Canada's 45 all out in 1979 - but more like a drop from a position of strength to a spectacular loss.
So here are my picks, in ascending order of awesomeness.
West Indies: 8 for 60 vs Kenya, 1996
In what is now World Cup folklore, the Kenyans beat the mighty (okay, once-mighty) West Indians at Pune. It didn't look likely, though. The Africans were bundled out for 166 and despite the two early wickets, the Windies still had Brian Lara and a reasonably strong line-up. So at 33/2, the Punters would still have considered anyone mad to back the Kenyans. The wicket of Lara changed all that. Rajab Ali bowled an innocuous delivery which Lara should have cut with disdain - instead, the look of delight on wicket-keeper Tariq Ali's face showed that this could be the gateway to something bigger. Maurice Odumbe bowled a legendary spell, taking 3/15 and Rajab Ali ended things to finish with 3/17.
Winning by 73 runs, it was hardly a thriller - the Kenyans had comprehensively thrashed a possibly overconfindent Caribbean team.
India 7 for 22 vs Sri Lanka, 1996
7 for 22. It might have well been worse, if it weren't for the disgraceful Calcutta crowd. The semi-final should have been an epic encounter, but instead it turned out to be a damp squib. With Sri Lanka scoring 251/8, and India at 98/1, we should have had a classic. Instead, the Jayasuriya-Kalu combination (not with the bat, this time!) accounted for Sachin Tendulkar, and from then on it was a freefall. From 98/1 to 120/8 - it was all too much for the crowd to keep in and they let their feelings known by throwing bottles onto the field and setting certain parts of the stand on fire. Match referee Clive Lloyd awarded the game to the eventual champions, and Vinod Kambli left the field in tears.
South Africa 8 for 64 vs New Zealand, 2011
Rain rule in 1992. Disastrous captaincy decision (resting Allan Donald) in 1996. That drop and run out in 1999. Math brainfreeze in 2003. Top-order decimation in 2007. Surely, South Africa had exhausted all possible reasons to exit a World Cup, come 2011. Except of course, a good, old-fashioned collapse. When New Zealand got themselves to 221/8 (on the subcontinent, that score is as good as 150 all out somewhere else) and South Africa in reply were 108/2 with the reassuring presence of Jacques Kallis on 47 (and de Villiers, Duminy, du Plessis still to come), and over half the overs left… One would think the Proteas' rotten luck was finally over. It seems Jacob Oram didn't get that menu. Starting off by pulling off a sensational catch at the boundary to dismiss Kallis, Oram ran through the middle order to take 4/39 as South Africa slumped to 172 all out - a more traditional loss than most of their previous knockout game efforts.
West Indies: 8 for 37 vs Australia, 1996
To this day, West Indian fans must be wondering how they conspired to lose this match. After improbably finding themselves in the sem-final (after Hansie Cronje decided to 'rest' Allan Donald for the quarter-final, only to see Brian Lara make kheema out of his spinners), the West Indies were in a good position: Reducing Australia to 207/8, and then powering themselves to 165/2 with Shiv Chanderpaul on 80 off 125. Plenty of time, demoralized bowling, set batsmen. It looked all but done that West Indies would play in their fourth final.
Only, Shane Keith Warne happened. First, Glenn McGrath got rid of Chanderpaul. Warne then broke the middle order with the wickets of Ottis Gibson, Jimmy Adams and Ian Bishop. Finally, Damien Fleming bowled Courtney Walsh to seal an incredible win by 5 runs - leaving poor Richie Richardson stranded at the other end for 49*. The West Indies have only themselves to blame: After a rather extravangant boundary, Tony Greig even wondered on air whether there was any need to do all this.
England: 8 wickets for 11 vs West Indies, 1979
The mother of all World Cup collapses, and possibly, all of cricket. Not just because of the sheer numbers: Losing 8 wickets for a mere 11 runs (actually, 10 for 65), it is the context which makes this top the pile: It was during a World Cup final. Granted, after the West Indies' imposing 286/9 (remember, this was imposing back in 1979!), England were never likely to come close, especially with Mike Brearley and Geoffrey Boycott taking their own time going about things. Joel Garner took 5/38 and Colin Croft 3/42 as the West Indies brushed the little nuisance of cleaning up another side en route to the second consecutive World Cup win.
The anti-collapse, of course, is when India were 17/5 in 1983 before Kapil Dev came and smote 175* - but that's another story!