In the first in our Flashback series, we look at the infamous 1999 World Cup semi-final.
It’s been 15 years since the heartbreaking 1999 semi-final tie between Australia and South Africa, and still the memories of that match loom large in the minds of South African sport fans.
All signs pointed towards this being another epic encounter between the two cricketing nations, none more so than the tight two-ball win for Australia in the Super Six stage just four days earlier. However, nobody could have foreseen just how much of an impact that previous encounter would have on the Proteas’ chances of progressing to the final.
South Africa won the toss and chose to bowl first on a seaming Edgbaston wicket, restricting Australia to 213. That was thanks mainly to Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald, the pair ripping through the Aussie line-up, taking nine of the ten wickets.
Things were looking promising early on in South Africa’s innings with Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs building a steady opening partnership, before wickets started to fall in a cluster, leaving SA in trouble at 61-4. It was at this time that SA desperately needed to find a partnership from somewhere, which Jonty Rhodes and Jacques Kallis duly provided. The pair played brilliantly under pressure and took SA within 40 runs of the target.
The lower order then continued to chip away at the score before the match was set up for a nerve-wracking final over in which SA needed nine runs for victory with just one wicket remaining.
The final over is to this day remembered as the most heartbreaking moment in the history of South African cricket. After Lance Klusener, who was having the tournament of his life, hammered the first two deliveries from Damien Fleming to the boundary for four, it left South Africa needing just a single run off four balls for victory, and a spot in their first-ever World Cup final.
But disaster struck. After a near run-out off the 3rd delivery, Klusener again mis-hit the ball to Waugh at mid-off. However, this time he set off for the run and fans watched in horror as Allan Donald first stuttered, then dropped his bat, before being stranded halfway down the pitch as the Australians completed the run-out.
The match ended in a tie, resulting in Australia progressing to the final. This was due to Australia finishing above South Africa in the Super Six stage, which they achieved with that victory four days earlier.
It was a cruel end to a tournament for the Proteas, who had come in as favourites, and seemed to be hitting form at the right time. Fifteen years later, and they are still yet to qualify for a final at a World Cup, in ODIs or T20Is.
If you’re brave enough to relive the pain of that final over, watch video highlights here