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Another run goes missing

Just over a week ago, an article appeared in a South African newspaper. Its subject? The Run That Got Away.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2003 19:48 IST

Just over a week ago, an article appeared in a South African newspaper. Its subject? The Run That Got Away.

It was meant to be a piece of retrospection, not a prediction.

Lightning struck for the second time at Kingsmead, Durban on Monday, however.

For the second time in consecutive cricket World Cups, South Africa were eliminated from the sport's premier tournament all for the sake of 22 missing yards.

Four years ago, the pain was perhaps more acute since the World Cup final, rather than a mere place in the second phase, was at stake.

The mid-wicket mix-up between Lance Klusener and Allan Donald at Edgbaston, leading to a semi-final tie with Australia -- South Africa needed to win to progress -- has traumatised the collective South African consciousness ever since.

"It's as if there's a national psyche hell-bent on searching for that one run," the Sunday Times said last month.

Perhaps the pain will be halved, now that there are two missing runs.

In all probability, however, the agony will be doubled.


On Monday, Mark Boucher was at the crease with, yet again, Klusener when a message was sent to the batsmen that they needed 229 to win as long as they did not lose another wicket if rain forced a premature end and led to a revised target.

The score stood at 223 for six.

Wicketkeeper-batman Boucher blasted the next ball from off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan into the stands before, satisfied he had done enough, blocking the next delivery. Moments later, the rain forced the players off.

Gradually, however, the realisation dawned that South Africa needed not 229 but 230 to win the match by the Duckworth Lewis scoring method and reach the Super Sixes. A tie would leave them with 14 points, two short of what was needed for a place in the next round.

So it proved.

No one will have suffered more than Klusener. It was the stuff of Greek tragedies.

Looking back four years before this tournament, he had said: "I've made peace with what has taught me to be more patient. It happened and it can't be changed."

The powerfully built all rounder, who goes by the name of Zulu and is recognised as one of the most ferocious hitters in the game, seemed the perfect man to have at the Kingsmead crease as South Africa prepared to launch their run chase.


At 212 for six after 42.3 overs, seven-and-a-half runs an over were needed -- a challenging but perfectly feasible target for Klusener.

The 31-year-old, who had scored his previous World Cup runs at a strike rate of 130, was in his element.

On Monday, however, he uncharacteristically scratched around for a single off eight balls before the game was called off.

While he misfired in the middle, Donald, his partner in crime from the 1999 debacle, looked on from the sidelines after being dropped from the starting line-up.

Donald, due to retire after the World Cup, was a picture of misery.

Klusener, however, could well go down as the unluckiest man in cricket history, as the man who was twice hit by lightning.

First Published: Mar 04, 2003 19:48 IST