ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Great Moments

An incredible finale to the greatest game

When it came to the crunch, with Australia seemingly down for the count, South Africa lost their nerve

Peter English

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A dramatic finale for the greatest one-day game ever © Getty Images
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The semi-final had turned more times than an insomniac before the last over of an addictive contest. Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald fired to restrict Australia to 213 and Steve Waugh's side was in serious danger of being overhauled easily before Shane Warne conjured 4 for 29. However, Lance Klusener swung mightily - too strongly for the deep mid-on, Paul Reiffel, who dropped his 49th-over bullet and parried it for six - and South Africa wanted nine from half a dozen balls. Klusener had only Donald for company.

Moment
Australia's plans for Klusener centred on yorkers about 30cm outside off stump, but despite being a dominant leg-side player he had no trouble blasting Damien Fleming's first two efforts for boundaries to tie the scores. Fleming's next ball was squirted to Darren Lehmann and Donald raced for the winning run before turning back; Lehmann had a short-distance underarm but missed the stumps by what seemed like miles. Australia sensed the game was lost. Three balls left, one run for South Africa to win.

Player view
"After Lehmann's miss the batsmen didn't chat and a few guys said Klusener was asking the umpire what the score was. The scores were tied and the pressure seemed to be back on the batsmen. The final ball was the perfect yorker, Klusener mishit it and I sensed he was running, but Donald stayed. Fortunately the ball went to Mark Waugh, who was running in from mid-off, and he flicked it back to me. I did a slow underarm down the pitch and Adam Gilchrist waited and waited."
- Damien Fleming

What happened next
Donald had dropped his bat in the mix-up and was well short when Gilchrist knocked off the bails to generate wild Australian celebrations. The result was a tie, but Australia went through to the final due to a superior run-rate at the end of the Super Six stage. Even Steve Waugh managed to feel a bit sorry for South Africa.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of ESPNcricinfo

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