Australia v South Africa (Semi-Final) •
Edgbaston, Birmingham, 17 June 1999
Just four days earlier the two teams had fought a high-scoring cliffhanger. Australia had advanced to the semi-final with just two balls to spare. It was clear that not much separated these sides. Excitement was running high as they clashed again at Edgbaston. Yet none could have imagined that the match would end the way it did.
Pacemen Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald were in devastating form. Pollock made a delivery jump, and Mark Waugh gloved it to Mark Boucher. Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting put on 51 but South Africa struck back. Three wickets fell for 14 runs, and at 68 for four in the 17th over, Australia were looking down the barrel.
That man Steve Waugh fought another valiant battle. He put on 90 for the fifth wicket with Michael Bevan. Waugh was caught by Boucher, trying to glide the ball to third-man. He scored 56 off 76 balls with a six and 6 fours. Thereafter only Shane Warne offered resistance. Bevan was last out in the final over for 65. Pollock took five for 36 off 9.2 overs, while Donald bagged four for 32 off 10 overs. They shot out Australia for 213.
Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs put on 48 before an inspired Warne struck. He beat Gibbs in the air and bowled him. Kirsten tried to heave him and was also bowled. Warne beat Hansie Cronje second ball with a vicious turner. David Shepherd declared him caught at slip by Mark Waugh. The ball had apparently missed the bat. Misfortune struck again as Daryll Cullinan was run out. South Africa were 61 for four off 21.2 overs.
Jacques Kallis and Jonty Rhodes put on 84 for the fifth wicket. Kallis scored a resilient half-century before falling to Warne. Pollock hit 20 off 14 deliveries. But wickets kept falling while the irrepressible Lance Klusener blazed away at the other end. Boucher and Steve Elworthy departed in quick succession. The score then was 198 for nine after 48.4 overs, with 16 runs required off 8 balls. Klusener swung Glenn McGrath high towards long-on. Paul Reiffel on the boundary jumped to catch the ball, but palmed it over the ropes. Klusener then scrambled a single to retain the strike for the final over.
There were now 9 runs needed. Klusener smashed Damien Fleming for boundaries off the first two balls. Just one run was required off 4 deliveries with Klusener still on strike. Steve Waugh brought in all his fielders. Donald at the other end seemed jittery. He was nearly run out off the third ball. Klusener played the next ball towards Mark Waugh in the covers and ran. Donald was confused. He stayed put, then ran, dropping his bat in the process. Mark Waugh back-handed the ball towards the stumps at the bowler's end where both the batsmen were standed. Fleming then rolled the ball to Ian Healy, and Donald was beaten by yards.
It was a tie, the first in the World Cup. Australia advanced to the final, having beaten South Africa by a whisker in the previous match. A relieved Shane Warne exclaimed: "We just got out of jail at the end. I don't know how we did it. It was just a great game of cricket." Sometimes the difference between triumph and tragedy can be very slender indeed.
Australia : 213 all out (49.2 overs)
South Africa : 213 all out (49.4 overs)
(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email firstname.lastname@example.org).
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