When Cricket Met Magic: Australia vs South Africa, 2006
12 March 2006, a day when everyone woke up to a pretty normal Sunday, 22 players and a billion fans woke up in excitement of a thrilling decider to come their way. It was the final match of the one day series between two of the best teams in world cricket. In a series where South Africa has begun with a bang by winning the first two evenly contested matches, Australia came back into the series by clinching the other two ties and eventually keeping the series alive with fifth match becoming everything to play for. Cricket between Australia vs South Africa has always been exciting, pulsating and thrilling to say the least.
When the fixture is set up in such a manner, it becomes all the more inviting. The Wanderers Stadium in the city of Johannesburg became the venue for this love affair to continue. Relive the moments from Australia v/s South Africa, 2006 match.
THE BIG BANG….
Going into the game on the back of a single wicket win in the last over, Australia decided not to take any chances and opted to bat after winning the toss. Australia decided to go in without any change while South Africa has to miss out on services of ever reliable Shaun Pollock for this game as he was out injured, making way for Johan Van Der Wath. Australia began with a bang, Gilchrist got the team going with his flurry of boundaries while Katich, who was watchful early-on also got in the act and brought about team’s 50 with a glorious cover drive in the eighth over. Gilchrist, who brought up his fifty during the fast paced partnership of 97 perished to a stunning catch by Andrew Hall off the bowling of Telemachus.
Ricky Ponting was the next man in, captain who has missed the first two matches of the series, wanted to take the occasion to make his presence felt. And dare you say, he looked like a man possessed, scoring off every bowler in every part of the ground. He scored at a brisk pace and by the time people around him realised he had scored his century off just 71 deliveries ironically on a delivery by his South African counterpart.
This Australian juggernaut was taking everything in its path and leading the charge was still that man, Ricky Ponting. He simply had unleashed another level of brutal hitting as he finally got out at the score of 407/4, thanks to a brilliant catch at boundary by Boeta dippenaar. But before that he had already been involved in making history, Australia became the first team ever to touch the magical score of 400 in the ODIs. This was already looking like foregone conclusion for South Africa, they had to do something unthinkable to get even close this huge score piled up on the brilliance of Ricky Ponting and his batsmen. Scoreboard read 434/4 after 50 overs…
THE PROTEAN REPLY..
Chasing 435 to take the series, South Africa needed a brilliant start to have any chances at the target. But that wasn’t to be, their opening batsman Boeta Dippenaar went for 1. With the team score reading 3/1, it was time for Herschelle Gibbs to arrive at the scene. If Ricky Ponting’s exhuberance was to be matched by any player on that day, Gibbs was certainly to be that one player. While the fans had almost left any hopes of this world record score to be chased down, they still wanted their team to put up a fight at least.
None of them could have even second guessed on what was about to unfold. Gibbs and Smith took the target by the scruff of its neck and started giving Aussie bowlers a taste of their own medicine. Smith played the role of the aggressor in that booming partnership. Not a single bowler was spared. The South African skipper seemed to take up the role of his counterpart in this seemingly impossible run-chase. Infact, when compared he simply got past Ponting in his haste to chase down this mammoth score.
He was all set to score a brisk century but it was not to be, not that day and he perished to Michael Clarke when he mistimed one to deep midwicket. Before getting out he had already scored 90 off just 55 deliveries, setting up match beautifully for his team. This was the time when South Africa could have easily lost their way but now was the turn of Herschelle Gibbs to turn on his beast mode. Already playing at over run a ball, Gibbs brought about the next gear in his batting and combined with Ab Devilliers to put up 94 runs in just 52 balls.
Considering the fact that ABD played 20 of those deliveries and made only 14, brings out the madness at which Gibbs was batting. After losing Devilliers at 284, Gibbs too left the scene just 6 deliveries later with score reading 299/4 after 31.5 overs, but not before helping himself to the score of 175 off just 111 deliveries taking a special liking to Mick Lewis who was the only other player to reflect 100 runs in front of his name, not to his liking though.
The South African gloveman Mark Boucher joined Jacques Kallis at the scene and immediately got to the task at hands. With small contributions from Kallis and Kemp, Boucher kept one end steady and the hopes alive of achieving the unimaginable. Then came Johan Van Der Wath, who came in place of Shaun Pollock in this match. He had really big shoes to fill in and boy he did it in some style scoring magnificent 35 off just the 19 deliveries. He left with 36 required off 21.
Boucher remained the key there and he seemed to have found a perfect partner in Roger Telemachus as they combined to add 24 off just 11, bringing it to 12 required from 10 cherries when Telemachus left but now South Africa were 8 down.. An all out seemed to be a possibility. Andrew Hall walked in and scored 7 off 4.. It was down to 2 from 4 balls, just then Brett Lee had some other plans and got hall caught at mid on. Mark Boucher was still on 46 but on non striker end. Ntini walks in as the last wicket with 2 required from 3 balls. Heartbeats stopped, Prayers started for a single and single it is. Scores level, still 2 balls to go, best part is Mark Boucher on strike.
South Africa have climbed the Everest set up by Australia but the question remains, Can they establish their own on the top of it? Brett Lee to Mark Boucher, a wicket brings a tie or a single gets South Africa home. Full delivery from Brett Lee and what a flourish that is from Boucher for 4. South Africa has won.. The world record has been made, broken and rewritten in the history books in a matter of just over 9 hours. This was not just a match, it was a war waged by gladiators from both the sides. South Africa coming out victorious.. A match where a team won just for the result sake but in reality it was cricket which won that day.. Greatest Match Ever and surely between the power houses Australia vs South Africa.
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