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Cricket World Cup Unforgettables – Australia vs. South Africa 1999
Cricket World Cup Unforgettables – Australia v South Africa, 1999 This has to be the greatest match ever played in a world cup. The two teams started a fierce rivalry from the last 5 days when they played the match in the Super Six stage of the tournament. Australia won the day, beating the South Africans with just two balls to spare, aided by an unbeaten century from their industrious captain Steve Waugh. It was also the game in which Gibbs dropped Waugh early in his innings and appears to have sparked the famous “You just dropped the world cup, mate” comment from the Australian captain.
Australia made a difficult start to their World Cup campaign and entered the Super Six needing to win all of their matches to reach the semifinals. They lost their first two matches to Pakistan and New Zealand. Worse for the two teams were their fellow Australians in their squad. As a result Australia started the Super Six with no points, knowing that nothing could be won in their remaining matches to get them into the semi-finals. Australia did it with some style.
Australia batted first and promptly lost Mark Waugh early to Shaun Pollock. Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist shared 51 before Ponting departed in the 14th over. Australia then lost the wicket of Darren Lehman in the same over. Steve Waugh got his side into trouble at 3 for 58. His problems got worse when Gilchrist got out with a score of 68 in the 17th over.
As has been characteristic of his entire career, Steve Waugh began to fight with the rearguard as much as possible. It’s impossible to think of any other striker you’d want in the middle when your team is in trouble. No other player has to save his team like Steve Waugh in the history of cricket. Here he made the highest partnership of 90 with Michael Bevan (arguably the greatest ODI player in the history of the game). Before Waugh left with his record on 56.
The next step was to play the best ball for the South African players Donald and Pollock. He took the remaining Australian wickets one by one as Bevan stood helplessly at his end. Only Shane Warne offered resistance to the dome mark and scored 49 runs with Bevan. Bevan was the last man to make 65 and Australia were bowled out for 213 with 4 balls to spare. Pollock and Donald finished with figures of 5/36 and 4/32 respectively.
South Africa’s innings got off to a slow start. The opening pair of Gibbs and Kirsten made a solid 48 in 12.2 overs. Then the magician Shane Warne stepped into action. The ‘Wizard of Oz’ gave such a brilliant display of spin bowling that at the time it seemed impossible that South Africa would recover from the result. Warne laughed and took three quick wickets for South Africa, including one off Hansie Cronje. Cronje was awarded when replays clearly showed the ball had gone out. South Africa’s cause was not helped by the demise of Daryl Cullinan and South Africa were left at 61 for 4.
As with Australia’s early innings, South Africa once again went through the middle through the middle partnership between Rhodes and Kallis. He participated at 145 when Rhode took off to try to pick up the tempo. But Kallis and Pollock kept the momentum going before Shane Warne came back to make the final of the match. He removed Kallis and got a few runs in the run in the slog overs. In the end his figures read 10-4-29-4.
But the game was not over yet. Klusener came out and started tying the ball all over the park like he did all game. He will later be named the tournament’s most valuable player. If Klusener could have taken the game away from Australia he would have had support from the other end. Unfortunately South Africa lost a wicket before the match with only Allan Donald and Klusener left to face the finalists.
This was one of the most amazing last overs in the history of the game. South Africa needed 9 runs from the last 6 balls when Klusener batted and Fleming was the bowler. The first two balls were made for boundaries and South Africa looked set to head home. But cricket is played in the mind as much as it is on the field. Steve Waugh put a lot of pressure on the already airy kitchen by bringing in the garden.
Fleming bowled the next ball and Donald, the experienced South African fielder, was instrumental in Klusener’s push to mid-off and Darren Lehmann’s own underarm throw at the stumps saved him on the way back. This seems to have also confused Klusener’s mind. On the next ball Klusener pushed the ball to mid on and started a furious run. Why he did this while he still had two more balls to watch remains a mystery. Anyway, they set out on the run and in the chaos that ensued, Allen Donald did not hear his friend’s call to be single. So he started running late. Mark Waugh picked up the ball and threw the ball at Fleming. Meanwhile Donald was trying hard to make ground sans his bat, which he lost in the confusion. Fleming took Waugh’s throw and rolled it across the pitch to Gilchrist who chased Donald away with ease. Australia erupted into a spontaneous celebration and the pain etched on Klusener’s face was heartbreaking. The match was a tie!!!
Australia reached the final after defeating South Africa in the league and the tournament rules stated that in the event of a draw, the first result must be considered.
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