Quite often We deal with a sentence that winning is an art or a habit in any kind of sports and it’s surely a good habit to have in your side. But, speaking on this about South African Cricket, a star mark quite unsurprisingly spells out a phase i.e., when not under pressure. It’s been 22-years since the run-out that stunned not only the whole country but almost the entire planet; even the opponent, I guess.
The English grounds generally remain full-packed during the test matches while keeping the white ball Cricket in the optional bracket. It was the 1999 ICC World Cup Semifinal between Australia & South Africa that just grew up new interest for the viewers to attach with this form. That game was a strange one; so much of twist and complexion as two decades later, it’s still hard to be digest.
Two Wonderful Sides:
Hardly one can compare anything with a match that observed one side blossomed with Waugh brothers, Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne whereas the other side was glorified from Allan Donald, Jacques Kallis to Shaun Pollock. On the eve of the clash, a fired-up Warne indicated that their failure to qualify for the final could bring curtains on his international career.
There were enough at the Edgbaston track and the sky to convince Protea skipper Hanse Cronje to throw the ball to his bowlers. Mark Waugh went for a duck in just the 5th ball of the fixture, not being able to avoid the Pollock bouncer. Just after a burst out by Ricky Ponting, the Kangaroos lost their way being reduced at 68-4. When Donald became your fourth option in the bowling list on an occasion, you realized the circumstances of the game.
Australia Batted Sensibly:
Both Ponting and Lehman fell into Donald’s first over trap before he caught Gilchrist at the third man. The batting was running nowhere with Bevan & Steve Waugh on the crease, watching the latter survived a run-out chance of Kristein. Playing their full quota of 50-overs could be the toughest task as of now. The repairing began.
At one stage, after smashing couple of boundaries, both were executing at a strike rate less than 40. Just a wicket here and there could burn their whole hard work. But the fortune were favoring them immensely. Catches were dropping short or balls were missing the stumps by a snicker.
Bevan, the finest finisher of this generation could have played so many express knocks in his career but that 65, the highest of the game, was paced at so ease. He couldn’t have done it unless getting the big hands of Steve Waugh from the other end. Nevertheless, the Cronje branch made a great return picking last 6-wickets for just under 60-runs thanks to the 5-fer by Pollock. 213 wasn’t enough but surely a decent one to work with in the semis.
Shane Warne Special Figure:
The sun coming out during the break erased all the help for the fast bowlers. The ball hardly moved in the first ten overs. By the end of the 12th, shouldering on Gibbs’s positivity, the green jerseys coasted as 48/0. The ball was tossed to Shane Warne; he had to save his own career himself, it appeared.
Once he made a statement that if a fielder had taken the catch of Gibbs, then never throw it in the air for celebration because the umpire might rule it not out. They didn’t require it. Just like the “Gatting Ball of the Century”, the sound of the stumps sent him to the pavilion.
The man had an absolute power to create moments and the game was the perfect stage for him. His magic and a brilliant fielding showdown from Bevan pushed the Proteas at the corners jamming at 61/4. Just like the Waugh and Bevan, Kallis & Jonty Rhodes were needed to stich a partnership to get the innings back on track.
After an 84-run partnership that ensured their team a bit of stability, the latter, Jonty perished by the present umpire Paul Reiffel. When Warne, 8-4-12-3, was called back to finish his spell, the magic hand dismissed Kallis to leave them their hope of a World Cup Final berth.
The Game Coming on the Edge of the Knife
It delivered Lance Klusner a tailor-made situation; runs from him and the others lower down the order left them at 205-9 requiring 9 off the last six balls to meet Pakistan in the final.
Something extra-ordinary coming??
The ball was thrown in the hands of Damien Fleming after a bit of huddle on the field placement. Australia had tried their scale best to keep Klusner off strike, who dispatched a full delivery to the cover before drilling almost the same kind of ball over the fence over a four. One to win, four deliveries to bowl; take a single hitting in the gaps to earn the final tickets.
When Donald left the crease in the third ball of the over, backing up dramatically and left stranded but luckily survived with Lehman missed a throw to the stumps from 6-yards away. Australia surely wouldn’t get another chance. But…!!!
A Run-out of Edges:
The fourth ball was rolled to mid-off towards Mark Waugh. Klusner set off for a tracer bullet run but Donald had no knowledge of that, staring at the ball. When he became aware of that, it was too late to react. Waugh’s throw to Fleming who roll it down to Gilchrist who whipped the bails off to secure a tie, a result meant Australia would progess to the final by virtue of finishing ahead of South Africa in the Super Six stage of the tournament.
Wild celebrations and running by Australia, whereas tears and disbelief covered South Africa’s camp.
“That dressing room was disgusting, it was awful, No one said a word for 40-mins.” Donald told the Sky Sports News 20-years later. “I really struggled coming to terms with it in the following years.”
In a press conference during the triangular tournament before the world cup, Waugh said that South Africa ‘had a tendency to choke under pressure’ what he denied before the semis. “I never said…I said they couldn’t play under pressure.”
Well, he hardly thought of watching his words getting true in that rapid pace.
Wisden said South Africa were “without doubt the best team of the One-day summer” and they would have more proud moments to keep than the opponents. But the fact is that it was Australia who had won and off to Lords’.
Australia- 213/9 in 49.2overs (Michael Bevan 65, Steve Waugh 56, Shaun Pollock 5/36) tied with South Africa- 213 (Jacques Kallis 53, Lance Klusner 31*, Shane Warne 4/29)
Australia Qualified to the Final due to finishing ahead of South Africa in the Super Six.