Was it the most thrilling game in the history of ODI? That is debatable. Was it the greatest ODI? Again, a subjective matter but the grand stage, a seesaw nerve-wrecking ride, an even contest between the leather and willow and some steely show from the legends, helped this ODI earned its title. Greatest or not, no game has been more talked about.

Fittingly, it turned out to be a game that no one won but it went to mark the beginning of Australia’s rise as world beaters and South Africa were stamped with a tag that that they still despise yes, chokers.

South Africa were favourites to win World Cup 1999. They started the tournament with four back-to-back wins. They received a jolt against neighbours Zimbabwe but came back strong. Australia were having a mixed run in the other hand. They lost to Pakistan; then neighbours New Zealand got the better of them. They came back well by beating West Indies and then India and Zimbabwe in the Super Sixes. When it mattered the most, skipper Steve Waugh produced a gem to get past the South African hurdle in the Super Sixes game. South Africa were in a winning position and in hindsight, this loss went onto hurt them the most.

On this day, in 1999, Australia and South Africa locked horns in the World Cup semi-final at Edgbaston. Suvajit Mustafi brings to you the match, in pictures.


South Africa won the toss and elected to field as skipper Hansie Cronje wanted his famed pacers to exploit the early conditions. The fiery Allan Donald duly responded alongside the ever-consistent Shaun Pollock.



Ricky Ponting, who had partnered Steve Waugh during the famous chase against the same opponents a few days back, refused to back down. Coming in to bat in the first over after Mark Waugh fell to a Pollock snorter for a duck, Ponting played his shots.



Ponting was looking good and added 54 with Adam Gilchrist before falling to Donald for 37 from 48.



Australia had their back in the walls after being reduced to 68 for 4 in the 17th over. Skipper Waugh, who had battled the odds to script a magnum opus against the same opposition at Headingley, once again came to the rescue act.



After adding 90 with Michael Bevan, Waugh departed for 56 when he tried to run a ball through third-man and nicked one to Mark Boucher’s gloves off Pollock. Pollock was exceptional and ended with figures of 5 for 36 from 9.2 overs.



Bevan continued to fight on. While wickets fell like ninepins at one end, the ODI legend battled it out and took the score to some respectability. He was the last wicket to fall but with his valiant 65, he ensured the team total was 213.



Donald finished with 10-1-32-4. Dream semi-final, isn’t it? Little did he know that he would be the villain soon.

Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs got South Africa off to a steady start. They were comfortably placed at 48 for no loss at the start of 13th over when Shane Warne began weaving the magic.



Warne claims that the ball with which he got the in-form Gibbs out was the second-best he bowled in his career, of course after the Mike Gatting one. Gibbs describes his dismissal in his autobiography, To the Point, “…probably the best ball I have ever faced from a spinner.”

He later wrote: “I could not go ‘back to’ and I could not go ‘forward to’. I did not want to sweep the ball either, because I did not think it was full enough. The ball was right on the money and caught me playing from the crease. It hit the deck outside leg, spun past my bat and knocked the bail off my off-stump.” He described it as the “perfect ball.”





Kirsten soon departed trying to sweep one that spun a long way and a ball later, Cronje departed to another peach.

Watch the magic spell:




At 61 for 4 in the 22nd over, Jonty Rhodes joined Jacques Kallis at the crease. It seemed that the duo was weaving a match-winning stand. Kallis scored the only fifty of the innings…



…while Rhodes played a good had of brisk 43 before Bevan sprinted in yards off Paul Reiffel to dismiss him, but not before he added 84 alongside Kallis. When Kallis fell to Warne, South Africa needed 39 from 31 balls with four wickets in hand. The stage was set for the Zulu to finish it off in style.



However, there was little support from the other end. Pollock’s quick 20 from 14 was ended when he played one back to the stumps off Damien Fleming.



Boucher soon received a lethal yorker from Glenn McGrath. Two balls later, Steve Elworthy ran himself out. South Africa needed 16 from 8 balls with just one wicket in hand.



Lance Klusener, star of the World Cup, continued doing what he had been throughout the tournament. 16 from 8 and Reiffel dropped Klusener off McGrath. Worse, it went for a six. The batsman was smart enough to run a single off the final ball. South Africa needed nine off the last over.



Klusener struck Fleming for two consecutive boundaries off the first two balls. The first one rocketed through extra cover while the next one sped to the wide long-off fence. South Africa dressing room erupted. From down in the dumps to ecstasy, South African emotions changed in a minute’s span. All they needed was one from four balls. Steve Waugh got the field in and the next ball, Donald almost ran himself out. He managed a sheepish smile.



The heartbreak moment followed then. Klusener played one to the off-side and sprinted for a single, Donald was busy looking at the mid-off fielder and responded late. He dropped the bat and both the batsmen were found at the bowler’s end. It was a tie.



A brain freeze moment cost South Africa their berth to final. Australia went through because they finished higher on Super Sixes points table.




Watch the end moments of the game:





Riding high on qualification, Australia put up a dominating show at Lord’s to win the World Cup for second time. Australia’s rise was unstoppable in both limited-overs and Tests. They won the next two World Cups and another one in 2015.



Cronje made a moving speech to his boys at the dressing room but he could not help but burst into tears.



Shane Warne finished with 10-4-29-4 and was adjudged the Man of the Match.



Klusener s dream campaign came to a closure. He scored 281 runs at 140.50 and at a strike rate 122.2 to add to his tally of 17 wickets at 20.58. He adjudged Player of the Tournament.

Brief Scores:

Australia 213 in 49.2 overs [Ricky Ponting 37 (48), Steve Waugh 56 (76), Michael Bevan 65 (101); Shaun Pollock 5 for 36, Allan Donald 4 for 32] tied with South Africa 213 in 49.4 overs [Jacques Kallis 53 (92), Jonty Rhodes 43 (55), Lance Klusener 31 (16)*; Shane Warne 4 for 29]


(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer, strategist, entrepreneur, philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)