1999 World Cup flashback: Shane Warne's four-wicket trick

Shane Warne’s four-wicket returns against Pakistan (final) and South Africa (semifinal) have a special place in World Cup history.

Shane Warne and Steve Waugh of Australia kiss the World Cup after victory over Pakistan in the 1999 final at Lord’s.   -  Getty Images

It was Shane Warne’s World Cup. His magical spell against South Africa in the tied semifinal was the most critical performance of the tournament. His spell of 10-4-29-4 sent South Africa packing in a sensational finish in Birmingham.

Warne was on song with his variety. His focus on taking wickets and not looking to restrict the batsmen was the high point of his bowling. Australia captain Steve Waugh had a fabulous bowling line-up at his disposal and Warne led the pack with his attacking style. Few batsmen could read Warne and it was his dominating show in the final against Pakistan which saw Australia win the Cup after finishing runner-up to Sri Lanka in the previous edition in Lahore in 1996.

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The final at Lord’s was disappointing because Pakistan promised a lot. It had the batting and a bowling attack which could take on the best, but the first half of the contest left little doubt that Australia was miles ahead in terms of collective strength. The Australian pacers — Glenn McGrath, Damien Fleming and Tom Moody — picked up a wicket each and set up the stage for Warne to run through the Pakistan middle-order.

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Warne began by breaching the defence of Ijaz Ahmed, the ball spinning from middle to hit the off stump. He then foxed Moin Khan with a tempting ball just outside off stump. Warne’s decisive moment came when he snared the dangerous Shahid Afridi and Australia was firmly in control when the leg-spinner got rid of skipper Wasim Akram. Warne’s 9-1-33-4 show remains one of the finest in World Cup history.