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Cricket World Cup - second week of the "Super Six"
Australia snatches victory from South Africa

By Adrian Porter

LONDON, 18 June 1999 - It has been a case for saving the best for last in the cricket World Cup. In fact, if only for three alone out of the 45 games played, the tournament can be said to have been worth it.

As might have been expected, two of these best three matches came in the final week. And both of them involved those doughty antagonists - Australia and South Africa.

For a mixture of sheer sensation, elation and dejection, all wrapped up in the last two overs of a game, the semi-final between these two at Egbaston has to be one of the greatest games of limited overs cricket ever played.

The ending tells the story. It's the final over. With its last two men at the crease - Lance Klusener and the fast bowler, Alan Donald - South Africa has tied the match by reaching the Australian total of 213 runs. One run is needed to win and there are three balls left. It should be easy.

Klusener is facing. He mishits to mid-off but, scenting a quick single in it, he runs. Donald, however, is watching the ball behind him, not his partner. Donald turns round and, to his astonishment, finds Klusener has skidded to a stop beside him. He drops his bat and tries to get to the other end but is run out by yards. Australia wins because of their higher run rate.

It was a bitter moment for the South Africans especially after Klusener had, single-handedly, turned the game in their favour.

At one stage, 20 runs had to be scored off only 13 balls yet Klusener hit 15 of them from four of the balls he faced. The equation became 5 runs off 5 balls. When Klusener hit a four, victory seemed assured. Then the calamitous run out - and defeat.

In their other epic contest, which was to decide whether the Australians took the next plane home or took their place in the semi-final, the Aussies went in facing a South African target of 271. After eleven overs they had slumped to 48 for three.
But; cometh the hour, cometh the man.

The man in question looks like the archetypal gunfighter of a Western movie: narrowed eyes screwed up in sheer concentration, thin, unsmiling lips. He even walks with the bow-legged gait of a Hollywood cowboy. And he has the same unequivocal determination to win.

This is Steve Waugh, the Australian captain. In an inspired innings, and aided by Rickie Ponting who scored 69 invaluable runs, Waugh carried his bat for 120 runs off the 110 balls he faced to beat the South Africans by five wickets.

It's a pity that, after such contests, one of these two teams had to lose but, on Sunday, it will be Australia who face the other finalists, Pakistan, at the home of cricket - Lords ground in London.

It also means quite a loss of face for the South African team who were so certain of being in the final - and even winning the Cup - that the new South African president, Thabo Mbeki, who has just succeeded Nelson Mandela, was put on stand-by to fly over to London to watch the final and attend the presentation.

President Mbeki, who is said to know little or nothing about the game, will, no doubt be relieved - even if the cricket loving public of his country are in total dejection.

They will be less concerned at missing what could be a repeat performance at Lords of the appauling behaviour of some of the Pakistani supporters who attended their country's victory in a somewhat lacklustre match over New Zealand at Old Trafford.

As usual, the more mindless of them kept up a non-stop cacophony of meaningless noise while the exhibitionists among them used every ridiculous antic to catch the attention of television cameras, which duly obliged and encouraged their inanities.

That could, with a strong effort, have been ignored but what has caused the authorities some worries was the invasion of the pitch just before and after the match ended.

A measure of the complete lack of understanding of the game by some of these "fans" became apparent when they charged on to the field thinking that Pakistan had won when, in fact, a number of balls had to be bowled and when some runs might still be scored.

As it was, there were anarchic scenes when there was a pitch invasion even before the last run was actually scored.

The problem is that, on English grounds, the public have open access to the pitch whereas, on the sub-continent, the spectators are kept behind wire netting or - even in cages - to curb their unruly behaviour.

The idea that Lords could be the scene of such mayhem should be unthinkable but is, in fact, possible if the authorities don't take proper precautions.


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

Pakistan beat Zimbabwe by 148 runs

New Zealand beat India by 5 wickets

Australia beat South Africa by 5 wickets

RESULTS OF SEMI-FINALS

Pakistan beat New Zealand by 9 wickets

Australia beat South Africa on tied game




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
First week of the "Super Six" Pakistan and South Africa in arm-pumping finish


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