The most important single in ODI history?
Makhaya Ntini scored 1 on nine occasions in his ODI career. He wasn’t exactly known for his batting. He never raised his bat for fifty in his professional career, and his average is a single-digit figure in every form of the game he played. One of those solitary-run scores however was one of the most important in the history of the format.
We all know about the 438 match, but perhaps one of the more understated moments in the game was when Ntini was on strike with two runs needed off three balls. With two needed off four, Andrew Hall sensationally threw away his wicket, going for the big shot when a single would have sufficed with Mark Boucher at the other end. It rang awkward memories of the 1999 World Cup semi-final, as Ntini walked out to face the music.
With Brett Lee charging in, Ntini played the ball late down to third man, screaming ‘Yes!’ more in delight and relief than signalling Boucher to run, as the Wanderers went into hysterics. What happened next allowed the match to live in memory as the greatest ODI of all time, but it couldn’t have happened without that single.