England v South Africa, Benson & Hedges World Cup – 2nd semifinal, SCG, 22 March 1992
England won by 19 runs (Rain rule)
Without the rain, there is no rainbow. But with the rain in Sydney, there was no more of Rainbow Nation. South Africa was knocked out of the semi-final of the 1992 World Cup in very controversial manner. The match was poised for a nail-biting finish with South Africa requiring 22 runs off 13 balls for victory, when rain interrupted the proceedings.
A total of 12 minutes were lost and a new target was arrived at – 22 off seven balls. The announcement, in fact, was incorrect as two maiden overs bowled earlier by South Africa were knocked off, leaving them a bizarre target of 22 off one ball! The insanity continued and the fresh target decided was 21 off one ball, even as the unaware players strode into the field. The sight of the Sydney Cricket Ground giant screen displaying the target was something the cricket fans will never forget.
The 1992 World Cup saw the introduction of a new rain rule to create a level playing field. The rule was developed by experts, including Richie Benaud, which said that for every over lost the target was reduced by the lowest-scoring overs from the first innings. This rule was introduced as the organisers felt that the earlier rule heavily disadvantaged the side batting first. By the end of this match the new rain rule had created enough controversy and chaos to be discarded altogether.
Earlier, there were some fine performances from both the sides, before the game was overshadowed by exasperation. Graeme Hick hit a fluent 90-ball 83, after South Africa had removed both the openers early. His crucial partnerships with Alec Stewart and Neil Fairbrother and late hitting from Dermot Reeve took England to 252 for six in 45 overs. The English were robbed off the five slog overs because of South Africa’s slow over rate.
Andrew Hudson got South Africa off to a brisk start but lost captain Kepler Wessels and Peter Kirsten, for whom Wessels was a runner for the entire innings, soon. They lost their way in between, but Jonty Rhodes’ cameo left South Africa to get 47 runs off just under five overs. Brian McMillan and Dave Richardson took them to 22 off 13 balls, when rain gods intervened.
Martin Johnson, writing for The Independent, appropriately summed up the madness: "Had Martians landed at the SCG they would have concluded there was no intelligent life on earth and gone home."
A Duckworth-Lewis calculation would have first set South Africa a target of 273 in 45 overs, and then reduced this to 257 from 43 overs. In fact South Africa would have been a boundary away from victory if D/L method was adopted during the rain break. Alas it was not to be, and South Africa has never made it to the final of the World Cup till date.