1999 World Cup, Super Six match - Australia v/s
Zimbabwe, Lord's, London, 9th June.
Exactly 16 years after beating the Australians in their
very first official one-day international on the opening
day of the 1983 World Cup, the Zimbabweans met the same
team in the second Super Six clash for both sides. The
venue was the Mecca of Cricket, where the Zimbabweans
had never played an official international match before.
A lot had changed since that 1983 win. Zimbabwe had
acquired Test status in 1992, and while they were still
struggling in the traditional format, they had
established a decent enough reputation in the shorter
variety, with the cricketing world aware of their
capability to surprise any fancied team on a given day.
They had certainly surprised many people in the 1999
World Cup by beating India and South Africa at the
preliminary stage and pipping 1996 champions Sri Lanka
for a place in the Super Six. Their opponents, who had
been below par in 1983, were now considered one of the
world's best in both forms of the game. The Aussies had
been soundly criticized for going slow in their march to
victory in their last league game against the West
Indies. The obvious aim was to give the Windies a better
run-rate that would help them to qualify for the Super
Six at New Zealand's absence. The Australians would thus
make the second round with two points in their kitty,
gained from the win over the West Indies, instead of no
points if New Zealand and Pakistan were to qualify along
with them. Their plans however came undone when New
Zealand achieved a landslide win over Scotland and
knocked the West Indies out. Steve Waugh's 'explanation'
at the end of the West Indies game that his team's aim
was to win the World Cup and not friends, was an
indication that the men from Down Under were returningto
top gear. In fact, they were peaking at the right time,
just like the Pakistanis in 1992. They proved it by
whipping India in their first Super Six game.
Australia were expected to win the second Super Six game
as well, but no one who had seen the Zimbabweans in
action was keen on entirely dismissing the chances of
Alistair Campbell's team. In that sense, the teams
playing the game were in the same boat as their 1983
Neil Johnson, hero of Zimbabwe's sensational win over
South Africa, gave his team a flying start by getting
Gilchrist out for ten after Campbell won the toss and
elected to field. Mark Waugh and Ponting looked
untroubled until Olonga rapped Ponting on the pads and
sent him back. 74-2. Olonga then 'struck' another blow,
hitting Darren Lehmann on the finger and forcing him to
retire hurt. The score at this stage was 97-2, and Steve
Waugh arrived at the wicket to join his twin.
What followed was a brilliant partnership between two
men who knew all about batting with each other. The
Zimbabwean bowlers could make no impact on them as the
runs kept coming. The only anxious moment in the
association was when Mark rammed the visor of Steve's
helmet with a straight drive off the leg-spinner Paul
Strang. No damage was done, except to the visor, and a
new one was called for. Mark Waugh, as graceful as ever,
became the first batsman to score four World Cup
hundreds, adding to the three he had scored in 1996.
Steve Waugh batted beautifully at the other end to score
62 from 61 balls. Michael Bevan bludgeoned his way to an
unbeaten 37 and Tom Moody, the only common factor
besides his captain in the current World Cup squad and
the victorious one of 1987, made a quick twenty.
Australia raced to 303-4.
Surely, the Zimbabweans could not win it from here?
After McGrath got Grant Flower lbw with the score on 39,
the two men who had combined to dismiss the centurion
Mark Waugh earlier in the day came together - Neil
Johnson and Murray Goodwin. Both were not authentic
Zimbabwean cricketers, in that they hadn't spent a large
part of their formative cricketing years in the land.
The Zimbabwe-born Johnson had played in South Africa for
many years before returning to his birthplace, and
Goodwin had cut his teeth in Australia's intensely
competitive domestic circuit. But both were committed
cricketers, thorough professionals, and here at the home
of cricket, they joined forces to take the attack to
Johnson attacked and Goodwin supported. The runs started
coming thick and fast as Lord's beheld a magnificent
counterattack. Shane Warne, introduced into the attack
earlier than expected to try and stem the flow of runs,
was clobbered by Johnson for four fours in his first
over. At the end of the 28th over, Zimbabwe were 158-1,
156 required from the last 132 balls with nine wickets
in hand. The match was very much in the balance and a
grand finish seemed to be on the cards. But Michael
Bevan played spoilsport.
Bevan's left-arm 'chinaman' bowling, a rarity in
international cricket, had befuddled many an opposing
batsman in Tests and one-dayers alike. He bowled well
enough to deceive Goodwin into give a catch to Moody.
The batsman had made 47. The Zimbabweans then suffered a
serious setback when Andy Flower was caught behind off
Paul Reiffel for a duck. Alistair Campbell then joined
Johnson, but when he and Guy Whittall fell in quick
succession to Reiffel, the Zimbabweans gave up,
preferring to play for the net run-rate rather than run
the risk of being bowled out in the scramble for
They were 259-6 at the end of the 50th over. Neil
Johnson returned to a rousing reception, undefeated on
132 to follow up on his spell of 2-43 in the Australia's
innings. He received the Man of the Match award for his
magnificent all-round display despite being on the
Zimbabweans ultimately fell short of the semi-final stage.
Pakistan annihilated them by 148 runs in their third and final
Super Six game. But Neil Johnson once again distinguished
himself. He could not bowl due to an injury, but he
compensated by scoring 54 as his team was bowled out for a
paltry 123 in response to Pakistan's imposing