Arguably the greatest one-day match in history was played today, 17 years ago. It was the second semi-final of ’99 World Cup between South Africa and Australia. South Africa were coming into this match with dreams of making to the final of a World Cup for the first time and vengeance to revenge the pool game loss in the same tournament against Australia.
The Proteas had a good start in the game after they won the toss and put Australia to bat first in the windy conditions at Edgbaston. Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald had just given the kind of start South Africans were looking for. Australia were 68 for 4 in just under 17 overs. It was then that Australian captain Steve Waugh (56) and Michael Bevan (65) came together to build a 90-run partnership. But there was no stopping Pollock and Donald as the two grabbed 9 wickets together to demolish Australia for a paltry 213 runs in 49.2 overs.
The son of a legend with a legend himself, Imran Khan.
The kind of batting power South Africa possessed in their ranks, it was looking like it wasn’t going to be too hard to pull off this chase. Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs started cautiously as South Africa did not want to lose out on this opportunity to lift the World Cup trophy for the first time. The first breakthrough came for Australia in the 13th over when Shane Warne rattled Gibbs’ stumps. The Proteas lost two more quick wickets in the next few overs before Jacques Kallis and Jonty Rhodes came to their rescue.
The game was equally balanced till the last two overs. South Africa had lost five wickets in a matter of 48 runs thanks to some quality display of bowling by Shane Warne. The South African hopes were dependent on how Lance Klusener played the last 12 balls of the match with the 11th man Allan Donald at the other end. South Africa were 198 for 9. Glenn McGrath came steaming in and bowled a full-toss which Klusener hit right into the hands of Paul Reiffel at deep long on who let the ball go past his hands. It was a six. The equation was down to 10 off 7 balls. Klusener was still on strike. A drama was in the making.
When Damien Fleming came to bowl the last over of the match, Australia needed to defend 9 runs. Klusener steered one through to the covers for a much-needed boundary. The left-handed bat was very close to become a hero for his country. The next ball was again sent to the boundary.
South Africa required 1 off 4 balls. No side is going to lose from this stage, you think. Think again and watch this: