ICC ODI World Cup semi-final fixtures have more often than not produced some thrilling encounters. On of such close games cam at the 1999 ICC World Cup in England when Australia took on South Africa. There have been few matches since which can match its twists and turns with some even branding it as the greatest ODI in history.
On this day 22 years ago, the two giants of modern-day cricket played out a semifinal for the ages in Birmingham to determine who will face Pakistan in the final.
Earlier in the match, the Proteas, led by Hansie Cronje, elected to field first. The decision gave early rewards as Shaun Pollack’s five-wicket haul (5/36) and Allan Donald’s 4/32 restricted the Aussies to just 213 runs in 49.2 overs. Steve Waugh and Michael Bevan’s half-centuries were the crucial contributions in the former champions reaching a respectable total.
Chasing the modest target, South Africa started off positively as openers Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs putting on 48 for the first wicket. However, the situation soon changed when Shane Warne was handed the ball and the gamble paid off. Warne ripped through the Proteas’ top order, as he scalped 4 wickets for just 29 runs.
However, Jacques Kallis (53) and Jonty Rhodes (43) took their side closer to the target with an 84-run partnership. But after the duo were dismissed in quick succession, Lance Klusener stepped in. With the asking run-rate growing, he kept them in the chase with a gutsy 31 runs off just 16 balls.
The Proteas needed nine runs in the penultimate over with one wicket in hand, it looked like the perpetual title chasers were set to reach the World Cup final for the first time in their history. Klusener got them just a run away from victory with two back-to-back boundaries on the first two balls from Damien Fleming.
However, what followed that day is among the iconic moments in cricketing folklore. On the fourth ball of the over, Klusener tapped the ball to long off and was almost inside the crease at the non-striker’s end. Non-striker Donald did not hear his call and rushed in too late and was run-out. Adam Gilchrist took off the bails as Donald dropped his bat and also the World Championship title in the process.
The match was tied, however, Australia went through into the final as they had finished higher in the Super Six table. They advanced to the final, where they beat Pakistan to lift the trophy for the second time in history.