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Cricket World Cup - first week of the "Super Six"
Pakistan and South Africa in arm-pumping finish

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.

And, once 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 tension.

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 bowled.

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.

A 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.

Klusener 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.

Johnson, a rare combination of opening bat and opening bowler, was the first player from Zimbabwe to score a century at the home of cricket.

Australia's 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.

Like 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 losers.

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 Manchester.

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.


RESULTS OF THE FIRST WEEK OF THE "SUPER SIX":

Australia beat India by 77 runs

Australia beat Zimbabwe by 44 runs

India beat Pakistan by 47 runs

South Africa beat Pakistan by 3 wickets

South Africa beat New Zealand by 74 runs

Zimbabwe versus New Zealand (abandoned because of bad weather)




Adrian Porter spent a working lifetime as a foreign correspondent for the BBC and other news organisations in various parts of the world. As a cricket fanatic, he managed to find time to play the game in such unlikely places as Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Singapore and New York. His latest venture was to help establish a cricket team in Strasbourg and looks forward to a team from France playing in the World Cup.


Photos in this series courtesy The Book of British Sporting Heroes, compiled by James Huntingdon-Whiteley, published to accompany the exhibition, British Sporting Heroes, held at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from 16 October 1998 to 24 January 1999, and available at the National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London WC2H 0HE

Read Adrian Porter's weekly articles on the Cricket World Cup

Opening article: Domination is the Name of the Game
Results of 1st Week: A Commonwealth Row and High Tech Foul Up Cricketing Traditions
Results of 2nd Week: Umpires Upset Bookmakers With Excessive Wide Balls
Results of 3rd week: Zimbabwe and Bangladesh topple giants to make "Super Six" round


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