CricInfo at World Cup 1999
[The ICC Cricket World Cup - England 1999]

Zimbabwe beat the Proteas and the pundits
By John Ward - 29 May 1999

On a bright, sunny morning Zimbabwe finally won the toss, on an occasion when they expected it to make little difference, and decided to bat. They made two changes, dropping Paul Strang and Pommie Mbangwa, and including the two spinners Andrew Whittall (off) and Adam Huckle (leg). The Zimbabwe management felt that the Chelmsford pitch was less unfavourable to spin than any other on which they had played, and their seamers had been so erratic that this also affected the change.

Zimbabwe made an enterprising if uncertain start against the South African bowling. Johnson opened the scoring with an inside edge off Pollock which shot past the keeper to the boundary, and followed it with a fine off-drive. Then Grant Flower square-cut Kallis for another four. In between though, both batsmen played and missed several times, drawing gasps from an enthusiastic crowd which had already virtually filled this small ground.

Early on Zimbabwe continued to score mainly through boundaries, helped by a fast outfield. Johnson brought up Zimbabwe's fifty with a cut for four off Kallis, followed next ball by an off-drive to the ropes. Riding his luck, he then snicked a third boundary to fine leg. A further single to third man, following an earlier wide, made it 14 runs off the over. Cronje decided enough was enough, and called up Donald to replace Pollock. Johnson looked temporarily less certain, but finally drove him for two through extra cover.

At the other end Elworthy took over from Kallis and finally made the breakthrough; a slash by Flower was well picked up by Cullinan at slip. Off Donald's next over Johnson almost made a fatal blunder, pushing the ball almost directly at Rhodes at backward point and calling Goodwin for a run; the fielder threw and missed the one stump visible to him.

Johnson brought up his fifty with a cracking drive through extra cover off Elworthy, his tenth four a fine positive innings played always with an element of chance. Goodwin as usual played himself in with care, and then lashed Elworthy past mid-off for an uppish but safe four. While Donald continued to bowl economically but as yet without penetration, Elworthy moved a ball back to Goodwin in his next over, just missing the off stump, but was then off-driven powerfully for four, which brought up the hundred. Against all expectations, this was, at this point, Zimbabwe's best batting display of the tour.

Johnson and Goodwin continued to pick off the ones and twos with regularity as the South African bowlers lacked penetration. Pollock came off after two more unsuccessful overs. So far he has had a disappointing tournament. Eventually Goodwin, trying to pull, holed out to Kirsten at mid-on. Once again he had failed to build sufficiently on a sound foundation, scoring 34.

Johnson now settled in with Andy Flower, concentrating again on ones and twos, with Johnson hitting uppishly just over Klusener's head at one stage. Later in the over Flower slashed him for a high four well placed between third man and backward point.

The shot of the day came when Donald replaced Klusener and Andy Flower hit him with what appeared to be little more than a short-arm jab over his head for a low six straight into the sightscreen. Boundaries were generally less frequent at this point, but Flower broke out again to pull Cronje to the ropes just in front of square leg. Next over Johnson's fine innings came to an end as, perhaps losing patience, he pulled Donald straight down the throat of Pollock near the midwicket boundary. He had scored 76, with 10 fours all hit before reaching his fifty and Zimbabwe were 170 for three.

The batsmen had crossed, and Flower nudged the next ball through the vacant slips for four. He then took a single and Campbell, to the first ball he faced, was adjudged lbw by umpire Shepherd. It was Donald's 200th wicket in one-day internationals. Whittall was quickly under way with a single towards third man, and he and Flower continued to score in small denominations. Then Flower threw his wicket away at a crucial stage with an incredibly stupid call for such an experienced player. He dabbed Cronje out to deep point where Pollock had virtually picked up the ball when he called for a second run; naturally, he failed to make his ground. Flower's suicidal call had greatly reduced Zimbabwe’s stocks at a crucial stage of the innings.

Whittall and Carlisle struggled to keep the board moving, with some brilliant fielding inside the circle preventing several good shots from getting through. The expertise of Flower in nurdling runs was sorely missed. Whittall eventually broke the shackles with a superb straight six off Klusener, then tried to pull the next ball and only just managed to clear mid-on. This stroke, however, brought up the 200, a total few would have anticipated after recent batting failures against weaker opposition.

Donald returned to bowl his final two overs, and was immediately cut handsomely for four by Carlisle, who looked a completely different player from the one who batted so ineptly against England. Whittall departed later in the over, though, hitting a chest-high catch to Cullinan, fielding at a wide mid-off position within the circle.

Carlisle and Streak made a generally good show against Donald and Pollock, with a fine off-driven four by Streak off Donald being the classic. They had a disappointing last over against Pollock which brought only four runs, but their 233 was more than most supporters could have hoped for. It was still not enough, though, to make them likely winners.

The South African innings got off to a sensational start, as Johnson’s first delivery rose and flew off Kirsten’s glove into the gully, where Andrew Whittall dived to take the catch. It was a case of ‘from the sublime to the ridiculous’, though, as his next ball was a wide. Gibbs flashed and missed at Streak’s first delivery, and suddenly the South Africans looked rather vulnerable. Once again, though, Streak suffered from his usual problem with direction, giving away three wides in his first over. There was raucous cheering from the crowd as South Africa finally got under way with the bat, Gibbs turning Streak towards long leg for two.

There was an excited appeal against Gibbs in Johnson's next over for a catch in the slips, but umpire Venkat adjudged that the batsman had chopped the ball into the ground. The first boundary came in the fifth over, when Boucher square-cut Johnson beautifully past Grant Flower at point. He was nearly run out by Andrew Whittall, attempting a quick single to mid-off off Johnson, and a direct hit might well have removed him. Only moments later it happened to Gibbs. Boucher called for a quick single off a misfield by Huckle, who recovered quickly; with both batsmen stopping in the middle of the pitch apparently to discuss the situation, the result was an easy run-out at the keeper’s end.

Further frustration occurred for Zimbabwe, as Boucher hit a catch straight to point but off a no-ball, Streak on this occasion preferring that to a wide. Later in the over Boucher tried to pull across the line and was immediately adjudged lbw by umpire Shepherd. South Africa slipped further into shock as Kallis, driving at a widish delivery from Johnson outside off stump, snicked a catch to the keeper. He failed to score, South Africa were 25 for four, and the Zimbabwe supporters were delirious with delight. Cronje got off the mark first ball with a snick through the slips for four, along the ground, and then Cullinan drove Streak through the covers, under Goodwin, to the boundary.

Cronje was next to go, bowled by a yorker from Johnson. Rhodes was under way immediately, scampering a single to extra cover, and then cracking Streak through the covers for four. Then he played back to a ball from Streak that appeared to keep a little low, and umpire Shepherd again had no hesitation in giving the lbw. Rhodes made 5, and South Africa were 40 for six, and in deep trouble.

Pollock was at the receiving end of a vociferous appeal for a catch at the wicket first ball, but Shepherd signalled that the ball came off his pad. Slowly he and Cullinan began to change the situation, through careful placement of the ball and judicious running of ones and twos.

Huckle came on to bowl his leg-spin, but gave away six runs off his first over, straying in direction. Zimbabwe now had two attacking bowlers on, and this relieved some of the pressure on the batsmen, as scoring became easier. With Andrew Whittall on, the batsmen kept picking off ones and twos with commendable skill, and the score passed 100.

Then Cullinan threw it away with a powerful drive that hammered a return catch to Andrew Whittall a quite unnecessary stroke as he had been scoring so capably without taking any risks. He scored 29 of an invaluable partnership of 66, and South Africa were 106 for seven. This brought in Klusener, who had saved several awkward situations for South Africa earlier in the tournament. He began slowly as the Zimbabweans put into operation their plan to pin him down by bowling at his legs.

Klusener finally broke out with a powerful on-driven four off Huckle, in his last over bowled without a break. Hitting straight, he then almost gave the bowler a return catch. But gradually he settled down and contented himself with pushing for more restrained ones and twos. A worry, though, was the required run rate, which rose to more than eight an over. Grant Flower came on to bowl and again put a brake on the scoring with his accurate left-arm spin. Pollock turned a ball from Andrew Whittall to deep midwicket to reach a well-deserved and hard-earned fifty, scored off 78 balls.

Streak returned to replace Flower, a decision that caused some debate, as he was prone to bowling wides and Flower had been keeping the scoring rate down very capably. However he bowled accurately and kept the scoring rate down. This increased the pressure on the batsmen and Pollock, aiming for a straight six off Andrew Whittall, hit a catch straight to Olonga on the long-off boundary. He made 52, and South Africa were now 149 for eight, with the required scoring rate now almost ten an over. It was a situation probably only Klusener could resolve.

Elworthy tried in vain to get moving, but succeeded only in lofting a ball from Streak into the covers, where Andrew Whittall dived to his left to take a superb catch. He scored a single, and the team total was now 150 for nine, with runs required at eleven an over. Klusener opened his shoulders to Whittall, hitting him for 2 and a 4 wide of long-on, then a six over the sightscreen to finish the over.

Klusener then clubbed a straight four and a single off the next over, but Donald only managed a single off the final ball. South Africa needed 61 to win off the last five overs.

Olonga then returned in place of Andrew Whittall to try to administer the coup de grace, in light that was none too good Donald could do nothing with the first four balls, but took a single off the fifth, while Klusener managed one off the last. 59 needed in four overs.

Streak replaced Whittall again, suggesting Campbell may have originally got his sums wrong. Klusener hit straight and umpire Venkat was unable to avoid the ball in the poor light; a single came off the rebound. Donald scrambled a single, then Klusener was forced to block one and was nearly bowled by the next, before putting the next into the crowd over midwicket. A straight-hit two off the final ball brought up his fifty, off 57 balls. 49 needed in three overs.

Olonga bowled to Donald, who struck his second ball to Streak at extra cover, and Zimbabwe won a historic victory by 48 runs, and also won through, against all the odds (according to calculations fed to the press), to the Super Six.

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