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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 predecessors.

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 their opponents.

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 victory.

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 losing side.

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 271-9. 

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1 AustraliaAustralia 118
2 IndiaIndia 112
3 cricketPakistan 111
4 EnglandEngland 108
5 AustraliaNew Zealand 98
6 SouthSouth Africa 92
7 sri LankaSri Lanka 85
8 West IndiesWest Indies 65
9 BangladeshBangladesh 57
10 ZimbabweZimbabwe 48
1 AustraliaAustralia 123
2 new ZealandNew Zealand 113
3 ZimbabweIndia 110
4 South AfricaSouth Africa 110
5 EnglandEngland 106
6 sri LankaSri Lanka 102
7 BangladeshBangladesh 98
8 countryWest Indies 94
9 cricket Pakistan 87
10 AfghanistanAfghanistan 49
1 New ZealandNew Zealand 132
2 IndiaIndia 128
3 west IndiesWest Indies 122
4 AfricaSouth Africa 119
5 EnglandEngland 116
6 AustraliaAustralia 110
7 Pakistan Pakistan 104
8 sri LankaSri Lanka 96
9 AfghanistanAfghanistan 78
10 BangladeshBangladesh 74

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