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My favourite World Cup cliffhangers: Part 7

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6th June, 2019
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This is the seventh instalment in my series looking at the cliff-hanging matches of Cricket World Cups.

Shoaib’s speed like fire against Australia tilt the match Pakistan’s way at Leeds, 1999
Inzamam-ul-Haq’s 81, Shoaib Akhtar’s pace-like-fire and skipper Wasim Akhtar’s 4 for 40 were behind Pakistan’s electrifying win with only one ball remaining.

Apart from his stroke play, the bulky ‘Inzy’ provided “entertainment galore” with his chaotic running between the wickets. Three times he found himself at the same end as his partner and twice it cost his country a wicket – his included.

It was a widely fluctuating match with an exciting climax. Sent in to bat, Pakistan made 8 for 275 as Abdul Razzaq (60) and ‘Inzy’ added 118 runs for the fourth wicket.

Australia started their chase disastrously when aggressive Adam Gilchrist was bowled by Wasim Akram for a duck.

Then Mark Waugh (41) and Ricky Ponting (47) added 91 runs for the second wicket and skipper Steve Waugh (49) and Michael Bevan (61) added 113 for the fifth, defying Shoaib’s electrifying speed. Both had smacked Saqlain Mushtaq (3 for 51) for sixes. The hunt was on.

In the final pulsating over, Wasim Akram clean bowled Damien Martyn and Glenn McGrath and Pakistan had won the thriller by 10 runs. For his match-winning spell of 9.5-1-40-4, Akram deserved the man-of-the-match award but it went to top scorer Inzamam-ul-Haq.

Skipper Steve Waugh denied the rumour that there was a rift between him and vice-captain Shane Warne. Another rumour floated that Pakistan had tampered with the ball.

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A thrilling tie between Australia and South Africa at Birmingham, 1999
The first tie in World Cup history, this match was considered the best one-day international of all time by Tim de Lisle in Wisden 2000.

Australia was 4 for 68 in this fluctuating semi-final but was rescued by skipper Steve Waugh (56) and Michael Bevan (65) who added 90 runs. Proteas fast bowlers Shaun Pollock (5 for 36) and Alan Donald (4 for 32) were magnificently incisive and Australia totalled 213.

South Africa’s reply was a virtual carbon copy of Australia’s. They were 4 for 61 when Jacques Kallis (53) and Jonty Rhodes (43) added 84. Man of the Match Shane Warne spun the match Australia’s way with tantalising figures of 10-4-29-4.

Then came Lance Klusener, the man of the tournament, on the scene. He gave the match another twist. He hammered 31 unbeaten runs off 16 balls and took South Africa to the brink of their first final. But his brain short-circuited in the last tense over.

He hit two fours off Damien Fleming to level the score. Now only one run was needed off four balls to win with Klusener on strike and number 11 bat Donald at the other end.

Knowing that a tie would be sufficient to enter the final because of Australia’s better net run-rate, Steve Waugh reshuffled the field. Klusener drove the ball straight and Donald nearly got run out.

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In desperation, Klusener drove the next ball and charged. A dazed Donald dropped the bat in panic and set off as an afterthought. Alas, too late. Mark Waugh at gully flicked the ball to Fleming who rolled it to Adam Gilchrist who broke the stumps, and South African hearts as well.

“It was the best cricket game I’ve ever played”, a delighted Steve Waugh said. This tantalising tie took Australia to the final where they thrashed Pakistan at Lord’s to lift the World Cup for the second time.

The 1999 world cup incident

Australia’s captain Stephen Waugh, centre, celebrates as Allan Donald is run out (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Lara lights up Newlands as the Windies win the Cup opener at Cape Town in 2002-03
A day after a spectacular opening ceremony the host nation South Africa took on the West Indies at Newlands, Cape Town.

The Windies tumbled at first to lose 2 for 7, their openers falling to skipper Shaun Pollock but then galloped as Brian Lara played a scintillating innings of 116 off 134 balls. Lara was almost out first ball but was dropped by Jacques Kallis, a difficult catch in the slip.

The lower order batsmen Ricardo Powell and Ramnaresh Sarwan attacked and 110 runs came off the last 10 overs, Pollock’s penultimate over yielding 23 runs. West Indies made a challenging 5 for 278.

Gary Kirsten started off with 69. Then Mark Boucher (49) and Lance Klusener (57) attacked with gusto. Klusener reached his 50 with his fifth six. The South Africans looked set for a victory but fell three runs short.

In a match with a nail-biting finish, Lara was the deserving man-of-the-match.

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More matches with chilling climaxes in South Africa in 2002-03 will be featured in the next instalment.