Specials – Best of the 1999 World Cup, Part 3

  In this third of a five-part series on the matches that shaped the 1999 edition of the World Cup, we look back at the best that the final phase of the tournament’s group stage had to offer.

Johnson’s superb all-round show – South Africa v Zimbabwe, Group A, Chelmsford

  Zimbabwe qualified for the Super Six stage with a memorable maiden win over South Africa in their last group game, a result that eliminated England. Openers Neil Johnson and Grant Flower provided a sound base after Alistair Campbell called correctly at the toss, sharing a 65-run stand within 14 overs. Johnson, who was the more dominant partner, also added 66 with Murray Goodwin for the second wicket.

  Johnson motored to 76 in 117 balls before being dismissed by Allan Donald to make the score 170/3 in the 39th over. Donald (3/41) pegged Zimbabwe back with two more wickets, ensuring that the total was kept to 233/6. Johnson also played a stellar role with the ball, producing an incisive spell to derail the chase. He got rid of Gary Kirsten off the very first ball, thus setting the tone for a South African implosion.

  South Africa crumbled to 25/4, with Johnson (3/27) also netting Jacques Kallis for a duck. Nine runs later, he added the scalp of captain Hansie Cronje, soon after which Heath Streak (3/35) sent Jonty Rhodes back to reduce the Proteas to a dire 40/6. Shaun Pollock (52) and Lance Klusener (52*) showed fight, but the damage was done. The innings ended at 185 in the 48th over, when Donald fell to Henry Olonga.

Odumbe and Vadher shine in defeat – Kenya v Sri Lanka, Group A, Southampton

  Though both teams were already knocked out, this match was notable for a new partnership record. Sri Lanka began strongly after being put in to bat, with Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama sharing in an opening stand of 72. Thomas Odoyo (3/56) snared three wickets to reduce the score to 87/3, but Marvan Atapattu (52) and captain Arjuna Ranatunga (50) composedly put on 104 for the fourth wicket.  

Neil Johnson, 1999 WC

          Zimbabwean all-rounder Neil Johnson (centre) celebrates one of his three wickets against South Africa at Chelmsford. He also scored 76 in the match. (source – Getty Images)

  The Kenyan bowlers again made inroads though, and at 209/7 in the 43rd over, Sri Lanka were in danger of being bowled out. However, thanks to a rapid eighth-wicket partnership of 64 between Mahela Jayawardene and Chaminda Vaas, they finished at a formidable 275/8. Sri Lanka’s seamers then left Kenya tottering at 52/5 in the 19th over, at which point Alpesh Vadher came out to join Maurice Odumbe. 

  The duo went on to delight the crowd with a partnership of 161 in 29 overs, going past the sixth-wicket ODI record of 154 set by West Indians Richie Richardson and Jeff Dujon against Pakistan in 1991-92. While Odumbe, who was later named Man of the Match, fell for 82 from 95 balls, Vadher remained unbeaten on 73 from 98 balls. Due to this effort, Kenya ensured that they batted out the overs, ending at 230/6.   

McGrath steers the Aussies forward – Australia v West Indies, Group B, Old Trafford

  Australia entered their last game needing nothing less than a win in order to make it to the Super Six. Glenn McGrath paved the way by gobbling three early wickets, including the prized scalp of captain Brian Lara, to leave the West Indies at 20/3, and from thereon, there was no looking back for the Australians. McGrath collected two more wickets later in the innings, which terminated at 110 in the 47th over. 

  McGrath’s final figures read 5/14, which would end up as the best return at the 1999 World Cup. Wicketkeeper Ridley Jacobs (49*) became the first batsman to carry his bat in a World Cup innings, but no one else crossed 16. Curtly Ambrose (3/31) and Reon King injected some life in the contest by reducing Australia to 62/4, before captain Steve Waugh and Michael Bevan came together to steady the ship. 

Aus v WI, 1999

       Glenn McGrath starred with 5/14 – the best bowling figures at the 1999 World Cup – in Australia’s must-win match against the West Indies at Old Trafford (source – Getty Images)

  Waugh and Bevan added 49* to take Australia to a six-wicket win, but used 21 overs for the stand. The reason for this go-slow approach was that, with a Super Six berth within sight, Australia set out to boost the West Indies’ net run-rate and prevent New Zealand’s progress, as qualification for the Windies (which ultimately did not happen) would have given Australia carry-forward points as per the rules.

A seminal moment for the Tigers – Bangladesh v Pakistan, Group B, Northampton

  The Tigers’ last fixture, against an undefeated Pakistan, was widely expected to be a mismatch, especially after they were inserted. However, an opening stand of 69 between Shahriar Hossain and Mehrab Hossain, helped by a generous number of extras, was a harbinger of the things to come. Off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq took 5/35, but Bangladesh posted a competitive 223/9 (Akram Khan top-scoring with 42).

  Medium pacer Khaled Mahmud (3/31), who had earlier hit a breezy 27, did the star turn with the ball by removing Shahid Afridi, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Saleem Malik in his opening spell. In between, Ijaz Ahmed was accounted for by Shafiuddin Ahmed without scoring, while the dangerous Saeed Anwar was run out in manic fashion. Pakistan were left reeling at 42/5 in the 13th over, and a big upset was on the cards.

  Despite a sixth-wicket stand of 55 between Azhar Mahmood and captain Wasim Akram, a shell-shocked Pakistan never recovered from the horrendous start, and limped to 161 in the 45th over, much to the jubilation of the Bangladeshi players and fans. This win was the sixth in ODIs by an Associate side against a full member, and proved to be instrumental in Bangladesh’s elevation to Test status in 2000.


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