As we put the whites away and prepare for the ODI section of the summer, Flashback Friday recalls one of the most extraordinary one-day matches of all time.
No match in the World Cup’s four-decade narrative, or arguably even ODI history, has produced the drama and excitement, or become as fabled, as the 1999 semi-final between Australia and South Africa at Edgbaston.
Steve Waugh’s side had snared a thrilling win over the Proteas just four days earlier just to reach the semis, but their quest to regain the trophy was on the ropes after Shaun Pollock (5/36) and Allan Donald (4/32) terrorised the Aussies, restricting them to a modest 213 all out; Steve Waugh (56) and Michael Bevan (65) were the only batsmen to offer any resistance.
South Africa were crawling in their reply, struggling at 4/61 in the 22nd over, before Jacques Kallis (53) and Jonty Rhodes (43) righted the ship. Some big hitting by Pollock left the Proteas needing a gettable 30 off 24 balls, but wickets kept steadily falling and brutish all-rounder Lance Klusener was their last hope with one wicket in hand.
In what shaped as a tournament-turning moment, Paul Reiffel dropped Klusener on the second-last ball of the penultimate over and it went for six – South Africa required nine off the final over.
Klusener clubbed Damien Fleming for consecutive fours off the first two balls, taking his total to 31 off just 14 deliveries and tying the scores; the Proteas needed an outright win as they had finished below Australia in the Super Six stage.
In a seemingly hopeless position, the Australian fielders lined the 30-metre circle. After a dot on the third ball, Klusener hit the fourth straight up the wicket and ran…but No.11 Allan Donald stayed in his crease for an eternity before realising he had to head to the other end.
The hapless Donald dropped his bat and was run out by half the length of the pitch. It was pandemonium – unrestrained jubilation from the Aussies, shattering disappointment for the South Africans, and stunned disbelief from everyone at Edgbaston and watching on television.
It was a match that started a tradition of World Cup chokes for South Africa, while it epitomised the Australian side’s remarkable never-say-die spirit.