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At Durban, March 3, 2003 (day/night). Tied (D/L method). Toss: Sri Lanka.
Sydney 1992, Edgbaston 1999, and now Durban 2003: South Africa have certainly acquired an unhappy knack of exiting World Cups in bizarre fashion. Late in the South African innings, with rain falling steadily, it had become a question of when - not if - Duckworth/Lewis would come into play. And so, when Boucher swung the penultimate ball of the 45th - and, as had begun to seem inevitable, final - over for six, he pumped his right fist, believing the job done. The last soggy ball of the match he pushed casually to leg, and stayed put. Crucially, though, the South Africans had misread the fine print: they had needed 229 to tie, when only a win would do. The match might not have happened at all. Sri Lanka disputed the interpretation of the rules for separating teams tied on points, and there was talk of them forfeiting the fixture, until the prospect of a fine and disqualification did wonders for obedience. Jayasuriya embodied such navel-gazing: when an over-cautious Atapattu declined an early single, he mooched back to his crease and was run out. Eschewing his habitual orthodoxy, Atapattu atoned with a superlative 124, adding 152 in 22 overs with the lyrical de Silva to hand the hosts a daunting task. Smith and Gibbs galloped away until Smith heaved de Silva's first ball to deep mid-wicket. Muralitharan bowled Gibbs behind his legs as the spinners made deep inroads, before Pollock and Boucher rallied. Their stand ended when Murali speculatively flicked the ball on to the stumps - and Pollock, after endless replays, was given out by what must have been a millimetre. Klusener laboured to a single off eight balls as the rain grew heavier, but had Boucher been given the right information, it might not have mattered. As it was, Sri Lanka progressed - and South Africa's world fell apart. Jayasuriya draped an arm around Pollock's shoulders as they awaited the media inquisition, compassion supplanting his own relief, however briefly.
Man of the Match: M. S. Atapattu. Attendance: 19,744.