Cricinfo XI November 1, 2007

Choking on the champagne moment

Mathew Varghese
Games where teams pulled off unlikely defeats

South Africa completed the double of winning the Test and ODI series in Pakistan earlier this week. They were fortunate, though, with Pakistan collapsing from 199 for 4 to 219 all out in the final ODI in Lahore. This week we look at ODIs where teams have managed to muff up on the verge of victory.

Dennis Lillee struck thrice to leave England three runs short of victory at Edgbaston in 1981 © Getty Images

England v Australia, 1981
England needed an even 250 in 55 overs to win the three-match series, which they led 1-0. Mike Gatting held fort at one end during the run-chase, and England were comfortably placed at 224 for 5 at the start of the 50th over. Ian Botham fell on that score - caught off Geoff Lawson - but, with Gatting going strong, the hosts weren't in danger. Dennis Lillee wrecked that assurance, picking up three of the last four wickets - one was a run-out - as the hosts were bundled out for 247, three runs adrift.

Sri Lanka v England, 1982
Sri Lanka's modest score of 215 didn't seem a daunting ask, as England attempted to secure the two-match ODI series on their first visit to the country. At 202 for 5, England were 14 runs shy of victory. But Sri Lanka had done well to restrict them; the 14 runs had to come off the final two overs.

Panic struck. The visitors lost Mike Gatting - run out - on 203, Bob Taylor - run out - on 206, Keith Fletcher - run out - on 211, Derek Underwood - run out - for a duck on 211, before Ashantha de Mel broke the sequence, getting Bob Willis to sky one to Ranjan Madugalle. England would rue the three-run loss and the missed opportunity of winning their first ODI series in Sri Lanka, a goal that was achieved only over 25 years later, when Paul Collingwood led his team to a 3-2 win last month.

India v Australia, World Cup, 1987
India were the defending champions and playing their opening match of the tournament at home against an unfancied Australian team led by Allan Border.

Geoff Marsh's 110 steered Australia to 270. India's reply was led by 70s from Kris Srikkanth and Navjot Sidhu. When Australia bagged the third wicket, of Sidhu, the score was 207. India then lost four more wickets, but it came down to 15 required from the final four overs.

Kapil Dev and Roger Binny fell on 256, and after Manoj Prabhakar - another allrounder in a team packed with them - was dismissed nine runs later, it was up to the last pair to get six off the final over.

Maninder Singh, the final wicket to fall in the tied Test between the two teams at the same venue in 1986, faced Steve Waugh, who was mixing up his seamers with slow cutters. Singh managed two twos but was then bowled by Waugh. Australia had stolen a one-run win.

Waugh was to star again with some final-over heroics against New Zealand later in the tournament, which Australia won.

Pakistan v West Indies, World Cup, 1987
Chasing 217 to win, Pakistan were reduced to 110 for 5. Then came a partnership in which Imran Khan, the captain, scored 18 off 26 deliveries, but gave good support to wicketkeeper Saleem Yousuf as they put on 73 in 11 overs.

Twenty-one runs were needed from the last three, as Pakistan tried to maintain their unbeaten streak in the tournament. Then Courtney Walsh struck, getting rid of Yousuf, who enjoyed three lives in his 56, and Patrick Patterson took two wickets for two runs in the penultimate over.

The last-wicket pair of Abdul Qadir and Saleem Jaffar had to get 14 off the final over from Walsh, whose figures then read 9-0-26-4. Qadir managed 13, including a six off the fourth delivery of the over, sending the Lahore crowd into a tizzy. Before he conceded the two runs needed off the final ball, Walsh could well have run out the non-striker, Jaffar, who was out of his crease, but declined to do so. It was an act of sportsmanship that has since become more famous than the match itself.

So near yet so far © Getty Images

South Africa v Pakistan, 1993
Pakistan had made 214 from their 50 overs, but a rain interruption meant South Africa needed 172 from 31 overs. Hansie Cronje and Jonty Rhodes were on course to take the home side to victory when Wasim Akram struck, removing Rhodes with a yorker. Still, at 151 for 4, the wicket seemed to be a minor blip on the worm for South Africa's chase. Akram, though, had only begun to get going; he took three more wickets to finish with his best ODI figures, 5 for 15, as South Africa collapsed to 162 all out.

Australia v West Indies, World Cup semi-final, 1996
After upsetting the unbeaten South Africans in the quarter-final, West Indies were on the verge of toppling Australia. With nine overs to go, only 43 runs stood in between West Indies and their first World Cup final since 1983.

Roger Harper and Ottis Gibson were promoted ahead of Jimmy Adams and Keith Arthurton after Shivnarine Chanderpaul fell - more to cramps than the bowler. All four were dismissed for single-digit scores, Shane Warne causing the downfall of three.

Richie Richardson, the captain, was around when the final over began, and when he hit the first ball for four, six more from five looked a certainty. But West Indies had only two wickets left, and a risky single led to the fall of Curtly Ambrose and took Richardson off strike. That was the little lifeline Australia needed. Last man Courtney Walsh was cleaned up by Damien Fleming the next ball. Mark Taylor, Australia's captain, was not joking when he said West Indies won 95% of the match.

Australia v South Africa, World Cup semi-final, 1999
Needing 214 to win, South Africa were rattled by Shane Warne, and were tottering at 61 for 4 from 21.2 overs. Jonty Rhodes and Jacques Kallis went about the rebuilding effort commendably, but when Rhodes departed, South Africa still needed 69 runs from 57 deliveries.

Australia prised out further scalps but Lance Klusener's dogged domination, a feature through the tournament, kept them at bay. And when he hit the first two balls of the final over - bowled by Damien Fleming - for boundaries, one could only think that Klusener would soon have yet another conquest to boast of.

One more run needed off four balls. And a man famous for last-ball sixes and fours at the crease.

Non-striker Allan Donald nearly backed up too far on the third ball - a dot. Klusener hit the next one past the bowler and ran, but Donald's first reaction, with the previous delivery fresh in his mind, was to run back to his own end.

Donald was short, as were South Africa, by one run. The tie handed Australia the start of their unbeaten run in World Cups, and South Africa the choker's crown.

India v South Africa, Champions Trophy semi-final, 2002
Herschelle Gibbs had started to suffer from cramps in the hands after he scored a century, but even though he retired hurt after 37 overs, it seemed a formality for his team to score the remaining 70 runs before he could walk away with the Man-of-the-Match award.

Two wickets, of Jonty Rhodes and Boeta Dippenaar, fell in the 39th over - a minor hiccup, perhaps. Sourav Ganguly, the Indian captain, employed spinners for nine of the final ten overs; Virender Sehwag bowled five of those.

The ploy worked. South Africa's grasp on the game began to slip, and by the time Sehwag began the final over, 21 runs were needed; a little too late to improvise on a solid foundation with six wickets in hand. South Africa eventually lost by ten, with Kallis falling for 97 in a chase that went nowhere.

Irish players celebrate the tie against Zimbabwe in their first match of the 2007 World Cup © AFP

Zimbabwe v Bangladesh, 2006
Zimbabwe's chances of overhauling Bangladesh's total of 236 were jolted by Shahadat Hossain, who in the 39th over of the match took his country's first hat-trick, to leave the home team struggling at 151 for 7.

Brendan Taylor and Tawanda Mupariwa didn't give up, but the asking-rate was climbing. Four overs to go, 48 runs were needed.

Hossain went for 15 runs in the 47th, but Abdur Razzak gave only five in the next, leaving Zimbabwe needing 28 from 12.

It came to 17 from the final over, and Mashrafe Mortaza, Bangladesh's strike bowler, was given the task. The first five balls read: 1, 6, 0, 1w, 4. Mupariwa fell on the second-last ball, but Taylor slammed one over midwicket to seal the deal.

Australia v West Indies, Champions Trophy, 2006
Adam Gilchrist led Australia's pursuit of 234 with 92, and although he was run out with the score at 182, the chase was on course after his 100-run stand with Michael Clarke. The other Michael in the side, Hussey, was at the crease when the side required 29 off 24 deliveries with five wickets in hand.

Dwayne Bravo accounted for Clarke to make it 29 off 28, but it was Jerome Taylor's triple-strike - a hat-trick spread over two overs - that saw the eventual champions crash to a defeat in their opening match.

Ireland v Zimbabwe, World Cup match, 2007
Jeremy Bray's unbeaten 115 had steered Ireland to a creditable 221, and Zimbabwe were in a spot of bother at 133 for 5. Bur after Stuart Matsikenyeri and Brendan Taylor added 70 runs, Zimbabwe needed to score a run every two balls for the final 19 runs.

A flick off the bowler's hand crashing into the stumps at the non-striker's end resulted in the wicket of Taylor. Then Matsikenyeri and the new man, Gary Brent, became needlessly defensive as they closed in on the target. From 19 off 38 with four wickets to spare, the Irish brought it down to nine from six, with one wicket remaining. Matsikenyeri was still there, but he could manage only eight, to tie the match, giving Ireland an unexpected success before they landed the bigger punch in their next match, against Pakistan.