World Cup Vignette
The Scarlet Speedster
The 1992 run-out that changed notions of what was possible in fielding, and made a poster boy of a young South African
South Africa needed a victory after losing two and winning two of their first four matches. Pakistan were even more desperate, having won only one and gained one lucky point from the rain-affected match against England.
A warm Sunday afternoon in Brisbane. South Africa had suffered their two defeats batting first, and had failed to pass 200 once in the tournament. They were put in to bat by Imran Khan and compiled 211 this time. Rain halted Pakistan's chase and the rain rule revised the target to 194 from 36 overs.
Pakistan's hopes rested on Inzamam-ul-Haq, who had Imran for company. In the 31st over, Inzamam missed a heave towards the leg side off Brian McMillan. The ball deflected off the front pad towards point. Inzamam wanted to run a leg-bye and had nearly drawn level with the bowler by the time he realised Imran didn't want the run.
At point, Jonty Rhodes had run in. The ball was in his hands but he wasn't throwing it.
Inzamam desperately tried to return but Jonty ran like the Scarlet Speedster. An underarm throw might have sufficed but he chose to cut down the margin of error, running up to the crease and throwing himself at the stumps, uprooting all three of them, catching Inzamam marginally outside the crease.
"I was appealing for lbw," said McMillan, "but out of the corner of the eye, I saw Jonty diving in. I'd never seen a bloke dive at the wickets ever before." Rhodes had a simpler explanation for what he did. "There was a 50% chance that I'd hit the stumps if I threw, and a 100% chance of hitting the stumps with ball in hand. The fastest way I could cover the last metre and a half was head-first. It was just the right thing to do at the time."
Imran fell in the next over and Pakistan lost the plot. South Africa won by 20 runs thanks to the rain rule, which was later to trip them up in the semi-final against England.
This article was first published in 2014
Vishal Dikshit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo