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South Africa finally won a limited-overs tournament in the subcontinent at their seventh attempt. As in their last two visits, for the World Cup and the Titan Cup, both held in 1996, they won all their qualifying games, and this time they held their nerve for the final as well, deservedly beating Sri Lanka at the scene of their World Cup triumph 20 months earlier. The Wills Golden Jubilee tournament, held under floodlights at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium to celebrate Pakistan's 50 years of independence, was devalued somewhat by heavy night dew and swarms of insects, both of which left the team fielding second at a distinct disadvantage. The white ball was likened to a bar of soap because it became soggy and discoloured even after numerous ball changes. Courtney Walsh, who lost all West Indies' three tosses and matches, fielding last, deemed it "quite impossible".
But the South Africans, inspired by the all-round skill of Lance Klusener, the consistency of Gary Kirsten and Hansie Cronje and the new-ball penetration of Shaun Pollock, defied all obstacles. They even won twice with the handicap of bowling second, and their professionalism shone through in the final.
In whipping West Indies and Pakistan in their first two matches, Sri Lanka stretched their unbeaten run of limited-overs matches to ten, including one no-result. They let down their guard in the last preliminary against South Africa, having already reached the final, and could not regain their edge. Pakistan, with Wasim Akram restored to the captaincy in place of Saeed Anwar, were embarrassingly outplayed by Sri Lanka when they had to win to advance to the final; their only success came against the winless West Indies. For West Indies, it was an ominous sign of what was to come in the Test series against Pakistan.
Even though their team did not appear in the final, the Pakistanis ended the competition in style. There was a dazzling fireworks display and the country's living Test captains - with the notable exception of Imran Khan, who pleaded political commitments - were paraded in horse-drawn carriages and honoured with gold medallions at a glitzy on-field ceremony.
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