By Adrian Porter
LONDON, 11 June 1999 - It was a long time coming but
the World Cup cricket tournament finally produced a spectacular, fist
clenching, arm-pumping finish to one of the matches. Appropriately
enough, it was between Pakistan and South Africa, both of them likely
to move on to the next stage - the semi-finals.
again, Lance Klusener of South Africa - my choice of the player who
should eventually be acclaimed as "Player of the Tournament"
- who provided the thrills and heroics of competition at its highest
Here's the scenario. South Africa have wrestled to
keep Pakistan down to 220 runs; a manageable target but one that will
have to be achieved on a darkish, cloudy day on a variable pitch at
Trent Bridge, Nottingham.
South Africa make a disastrous
start - five wickets down for 58 runs after 20 overs. Then, Jaques
Kallis and Sean Pollock get their heads down and, together, they add
77 vital runs. But, the light is deteriorating and South Africa still
need 86 runs to win with only 14 overs left - at just over six runs an
over - to get them.
Enter Klusener, the burley sugar-cane
farmer from Natal, swinging his heavy bat like a bludgeon. He plays
carefully at first, taking singles and twos as he gets his eye in.
Then, Kallis is out with 45 runs still needed and 40 balls to be
Suddenly, it all begins to happen. Pakistan's fast
bowlers get the first taste of Klusener's power. Two sixes off them as
he rocks back on his feet and pulls the ball high into the crowd.
Another six walloped off the spin bowler, Saglain Mushtag. Now, three
boundries for four runs each. Thirty runs in six strokes.
tricky task has become an easy equation of 9 runs from twelve balls.
Klusener completes it with a streaky shot high towards a Pakistani
fielder who, to his everlasting shame, drops the catch.
walks off the field having taken his side to victory and, at that
point, he entered the record books by scoring 210 runs in the World
Cup without being dismissed once. He also collects his fourth "Man
of the Match" award in the tournament.
Away from the
pyrotechnics of the South Africa-Pakistan game, Australia showed a
return from indifferent form to its masterful best with an easy 77-run
win over India and a 44-run victory at Lords over Zimbabwe - although
this one set Australian alarms buzzing for a while as " Man of
the Match", Zimbabwe's Neil Johnson, piled up 132 runs.
a rare combination of opening bat and opening bowler, was the first
player from Zimbabwe to score a century at the home of cricket.
victories were based on the silky smooth batting of Mark Waugh and the
magnificent, pin-point fast bowling of Glen McGrath who, in the match
against India, blasted away their finest batsmen - Tendulkar, Dravid,
Azbaruddin - in his first four overs with only 17 runs on the board.
other losers - Bangladesh, England, Kenya, Scotland, Sri Lanka and the
West Indies - it looks like an early return home for the Indian team
and what has been forecast as "an uncertain welcome" back in
their home country. To put it mildly, Indian cricket fans don't like
It was, in fact, the national and religious
chauvinism of such supporters which saw the needle match between India
and Pakistan attract as much attention because of the threat of
violence between opposing spectators as it did because of its "make
or break" importance to India.
Apart from a few nasty
scuffles after India won the match, it all passed off in relatively
good spirits nurtured, possibly, by the fact that the Indian captain,
Mohammed Azbaruddin, is a Muslim but, more probably, by the presence
of an extra large security force on duty at the Old Trafford ground in
One major hint of temperament, away from the
ground, came from the Pakistani captain, Wasim Akram, who is rapidly
becoming known as "Wasim the Whinger" - an epithet coined by
an Australian player, who said he was "worse than your proverbial
whingeing Pom (Englishman) - because of his querulous moans about the
working conditions for him and his team.
He has moaned about
poor hotel accomodation, about incompetent transport arrangements, and
below-standard practice nets and pitches.
Before the match
against India, he complained that the indoor school at Old Trafford
was not available to his team because it was being used as an
hospitality venue for the corporate sponsors of the World Cup.
"Whinger Wasim" thought his players should have preference
for the use of the facility but the organisers pointed out that it had
been reserved long before the tournament began and that it was just an
act of God - or Allah - that heavy rain prevented the Pakistanis from
practising outdoors as arranged.
Exit: a subdued Wasim.
OF THE FIRST WEEK OF THE "SUPER SIX":
beat India by 77 runs
Australia beat Zimbabwe by 44 runs
beat Pakistan by 47 runs
South Africa beat Pakistan by 3
South Africa beat New Zealand by 74 runs
versus New Zealand (abandoned because of bad weather)