Raju's premature celebrations, Arjuna's cool head
Australia v India, Brisbane
Australia needed to beat India to keep their campaign alive and they left it until the final ball in Brisbane. Their batsmen struggled against Manoj Prabhakar and Kapil Dev, and if it wasn't for Dean Jones' brisk 90, the world champions would have been restricted to less than 237. Mohammad Azharuddin matched Jones' contribution but the other Indians failed to convert starts into more substantial innings. Sanjay Manjrekar's 42-ball 47 helped India reduce the equation to 13 to get off the final over. Kiran More then hit Tom Moody's first two deliveries for two fours but the third ball hit middle stump, leaving Nos. 9 and 11, Javagal Srinath and Venkatapathy Raju, to get four off the final ball. Srinath slogged it to deep midwicket, where Steve Waugh dropped it. Raju pumped his fists when he saw the chance spilt, but Waugh's throw to stand-in wicketkeeper David Boon caught Raju short as he was attempting to complete the third, the run that would have levelled the scores. The result, however, had been shaped by the rain rule, which would come in for heavy criticism. India had lost three overs of their chase to rain but the target was by only two runs, which was the total scored in Australia's three least productive overs.
Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, New Plymouth
This contest, played in picturesque Pukekura Park in New Plymouth, was a classic. Andy Flower scored a century on debut and Andy Waller took advantage of the short straight boundaries, and the really short square ones, and smashed 83 off 45 balls, leading Zimbabwe to 312 for 4. No team had ever scored 300 in the second innings of an ODI before. Sri Lanka's openers, Roshan Mahanama and Athula Samarasekera, made fifties and added 128, but frequent wickets thereafter reduced Sri Lanka to 167 for 4. Arjuna Ranatunga then exhibited the leadership skills he would use to pursue greater glory in years to come, scoring at over a run a ball without resorting to slogging. The dabs to third man and fine leg were his favoured strokes, but he was equally adept at finding boundaries. Even when the asking rate approached 10 per over, Ranatunga kept his head, shielded the lower order, and kept going. It was part of a rich vein of form that had fetched him an average of nearly 53 from his previous 22 matches. He hit the winning runs as Sri Lanka won with four balls to spare.
England v South Africa, semi-final, Sydney
In perhaps the most infamous ODI of all, South Africa, newly reintegrated into the international cricket community following the end of apartheid, were dumped out of the World Cup by the rain rule. Chasing 252 in 45 overs, they needed 22 off 13 balls with four wickets in hand when the rain returned to halt play for 12 minutes. The innings was shortened by two overs and the target reduced by the number of runs scored by England in two of their least productive overs. Meyrick Pringle had bowled two maidens. So the big screen at the SCG flashed that South Africa needed 22 runs off seven balls first and then 22 off 1 (which was incorrect because a leg-bye had been left out of the reductions). Though it was academic, South Africa actually needed 21 off 1 and not 22. Brian McMillan took a single to midwicket off Chris Lewis and stormed off in a huff. To a certain extent, the predicament South Africa found themselves in was of their own making. Kepler Wessels chose to field despite the threat of rain and knowing the rule, and then South Africa maintained a slow over rate, which resulted in England's innings being shortened.
England v South Africa, Melbourne
The first game between England and South Africa since 1965 was a thriller. England were ravaged by injuries: Alec Stewart replaced Graham Gooch as captain, Chris Lewis did not bowl because of a side strain, Phil DeFreitas limped off the field after each spell, and Dermot Reeve couldn't bowl after falling and hurting his back. South Africa's openers, Kepler Wessels and Andrew Hudson, added 151 in 36 overs before Graeme Hick, brought on because Reeve couldn't go on, dismissed them both. England were set a total of 226 after rain interrupted their innings. When play resumed, England lost three wickets - Ian Botham, Robin Smith and Hick - in seven balls for two runs. Stewart found a steady partner in Neil Fairbrother and the pair revived the chase with half-centuries. Lewis contributed an invaluable 33 off 22 balls but was run out by the fielder of the tournament, Jonty Rhodes, leaving England with 10 to get off the last two overs. The limping DeFreitas hit the winning run with a ball to spare.