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Fab four geared up for Oz clash

World Cup semifinal between Australia and South Africa brings back memories of their clash in 1999, writes Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.

cricket Updated: Apr 23, 2007 15:20 IST

A World Cup semifinal between Australia and South Africa brings back memories of their clash in 1999 — which ended in a tie and sent Australia into the final. Four survivors from the same South African squad are bracing up for a fight this time around. This is what they said:

The 1999 game was exceptional. One side had it wrapped up but another one won. The experience we have gained from playing Australia over the years will stand us in good stead. It’s important to stay calm. We have faced some pressure situations and have stayed calm through them. Their batsmen are in superb form and you have to be at the top of your game. These are the challenges you play cricket for. You want to come up against the best and win. I would love to return to Barbados for the final and bowl from the Malcolm Marshall end.

History is against Australia. We’ve played our best cricket with our backs to the wall. Chasing 434 proved something to the whole team. It was a freakish sort of game, albeit on the perfect wicket, but you do take confidence from that. On that day, we outplayed them and on a big stage, you need to outplay the opposition. I can’t remember what Steve Waugh said after I dropped him (in 1999), I was in a state of shock. Even if he said that — you have dropped the World Cup — I didn't hear it. It was in the papers the next day and I had a bit of a hangover.

We have played two big games — against the West Indies and England — but we haven’t played at our best in every game. What has happened is now over. Whoever plays better on the day will go to the final. The 1999 defeat was bad but the sun was out next morning. You have got to get up (from those moments) and bounce back. It was an unbelievable experience. If we look at the positive side, it was probably the best one-day game played before that 434 game.

Hope we have peaked at the right time. 1999 means absolutely nothing now. We have played Australia a lot of times, they have beaten us and we have beaten them. So it boils down to who produces the goods on the day. It will come down to those moments and the side that is most relaxed and takes care of those key moments would win. We have learnt from our games against them, you take what you can out of them. I am the type of person who looks back at a game and takes what you can out of it.

First Published: Apr 23, 2007 15:15 IST