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England vs South Africa, 1992

Absurd rain rule steals thunder from the game as South Africa start their jinxed WC career, writes AR Hemant.

india Updated: Mar 03, 2007 02:17 IST

Second semifinal, Sydney, March 22, 1992

Much like the previous semifinal — Pakistan vs New Zealand — this game was headed for a gripping climax. But unfortunately for South Africa and embarrassingly for England, it ended in a farce thanks to a rain rule.

South Africa had done much to keep their hopes alive. Brian McMillan and Dave Richardson were at the crease and they finally needed 23 from 11 balls when the skies opened up.

South Africa’s target was 253 before the rain. The rain rule readjusted the target based on the lowest scoring overs of the side batting first — in this case, England, who ended up gaining from an economical spell by Meryck Pringle. The target was first revised to 22 from 7 balls but was changed to 22 from 1 when play resumed.

The clumsy inelasticity of the rain rule took no account of the importance of the event. McMillan took strike against Chris Lewis, who operated from a very short run-up. The batsman drove the ball down the ground to take a single and completed the formalities in an absurd end.

Much of the event’s sheen had been taken away by rains; several games were ruined, most notably the one in the league stage in which England bowled out Pakistan for 74 but points had to be shared due to rain. As for SA, they have continued to be plagued by immense bad luck at crucial junctures in all their four Cup appearances.