Menace ball and magic ball

ESPNcricinfo staff
If you'd believe it, Warne was contemplating retirement before the greatest one-dayer ever

The six that made Shoaib a star
Pakistan v West Indies, Bristol

After injury and alleged indiscipline had stalled some of his early progress, Shoaib Akhtar announced his arrival as a fast bowler of some menace in a Test match against India at Eden Gardens. Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar were among his victims that day, and there was an anticipatory buzz as he strode back to the top of his run-up on his World Cup debut. Pakistan had made 229, and needed an early breakthrough or two to win their opening game.

While some expected a searing yorker first up, Shoaib opted for the other extreme, a bouncer so quick that Sherwin Campbell barely saw it. He was belatedly into the hook, but the ball had hurried on so quickly that it took the top edge. As his team-mates and an awestruck crowd watched, the ball soared over third man for six. Campbell looked like a man who'd just found himself on the railway track, with an onrushing locomotive just yards away.

He didn't stay around long enough to enjoy his good fortune. In Shoaib's next over, another express delivery cannoned into the top of middle stump, even as Campbell was trying to bring the bat down. And though Australia demolished them in the final, Pakistan had unearthed one of the stars of the competition.

Another bit of Warnie magic
Australia v South Africa, semi-final, Edgbaston

It was looking like Shane Warne's final international as South Africa burst to 0 for 43 off 10 overs in their chase of 213 for a spot in the final. Warne was down and almost out. He had been dropped from the Test team in West Indies, had missed the birth of his son, and was contemplating retirement during a Hyde Park walk with Steve Waugh. It wasn't the best preparation for a contest that would go on to become the most famous in limited-overs history. Herschelle Gibbs was making the chase more comfortable with each ball he faced. After 10 overs Waugh was desperate. He called for Warne.

Warne's opening over went for three and he had to wait for his eighth ball to strike. Gibbs had become a villain by dropping Waugh in the previous game, while prematurely celebrating a simple catch, but he was forgiven for this lapse against a delivery that would quickly be compared to the Gatting ball of 1993. Drifting outside Gibbs' pads, it turned sharply past the batsman and removed the off bail. Warne roared and Gibbs, like Mike Gatting, was silent and confused. Warne was suddenly charged to full power and Gary Kirsten and Hansie Cronje, who was ruled to edge a ball he missed, fell in his next seven balls, surging Australia back into the contest. Jacques Kallis was later added to Warne's amazing haul of 4 for 29 off 10.

It's a tie!
Australia v South Africa, semi-final, Edgbaston

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 the bullet and parried it for six - and South Africa needed nine from half a dozen balls. Klusener had only Donald for company.

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 throw to accomplish 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.

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.