Lance Klusener: The showstopper of the 1999 edition

  • Sumit Suri
  • Updated: Feb 20, 2015 21:55 IST

There have been and will be many great performance and performers in the game of cricket, but the one that entertained me specifically will be the World Cup performance of Lance Klusener against Australia.

Nicknamed Zulu, Lance Klusener (born 4 September 1971) is a former South African cricketer, more specifically an all-rounder. He was known for his aggressive batting and his fast-medium swing bowling. He was a great all-rounder and a pro artist when it came to hitting the ball in slog overs. A strong man with 5”11 height, he made sure when he hit the ball, he hit it so hard that it crosses the fence for a four or a six.

As a lover of the game the match between South Africa and Australia was entertainment delight like a typical bollywood masala movie. The memories of that great contest are difficult to fade away from the mind.

In the 1999 Cricket World Cup, South Africa had progressed to the semi-finals, and Klusener till then had an excellent tournament, taking 17 wickets and scoring 250 runs (including two half centuries) in 8 matches.

He won four Man of the Match awards out of the nine matches South Africa played in the tournament. The four awards were consecutive with respect to South Africa's wins.

The second semi-final was played between Australia and South Africa in Edgbaston, England. Australia, having been put to bat, set a target of 214 for South Africa to chase in 50 overs. Klusener came into bat when South Africa were 175–6 in 44.5 overs, and by virtue of his big-hitting, South Africa entered the final over at 205/9, needing nine runs to win in with only one wicket remaining. The two men at the crease were Klusener (on strike) and Allan Donald.

Klusener scored consecutive fours in the first two balls of the over (bowled by Damien Fleming), levelling the scores and leaving South Africa with only 1 run to win in 4 balls with Klusener on strike. The third ball was a dot, and the fourth saw Klusener mis-hit his shot to mid-wicket fielder Mark Waugh. Klusener went for the run, although chances of a run-out were high and two balls were still remaining. Donald was run-out by some distance, thus ending the match with the scores level. However, a tie meant that Australia progressed to the final since they had beaten South Africa in the group stages of the tournament.

Australia went on to win the tournament, and although Klusener's heroics went in vain, he was voted the Player of the Series.

According to me that will be one of the greatest matches and that last half an hour would always be the contest to cherish as it kept the excitement levels to the hilt. He was not just a great entertainer but also a great innovator. I hope that there will be many such great batsman and innings that will entertain us and give a tough fight to the opposition team.

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