Key matches

K. KEERTHIVASAN

South Africa v Pakistan, Trent Bridge, June 5.

A big hitter nicknamed `Zulu' took away the game from the Pakistanis. While it was coasting to what looked like a comfortable victory, the Pakistani Express was derailed by a late onslaught from `Zulu' Lance Klusener (46 not out, 41b) that gave South Africa a narrow three-wicket win in the last over.

Lance Klusener in action against Pakistan at Trent Bridge. A late onslaught by Klusener gave South Africa victory in the last over of the match.-N. SRIDHARAN

Chasing a meagre score of 220 for seven, the Proteas were struggling at 58 for five. Shoaib Akhtar was a revelation with his deadly speed and was the centre of attraction in the packed stadium. He rose to the occasion to send back openers Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs. There was more disaster for South Africa as Hansie Cronje, Darryl Cullinan and Jonty Rhodes disappointed, all going out cheaply.

Jacques Kallis and Shaun Pollock, who added 77 runs for the sixth wicket, made the initial recovery possible but the exit of Kallis seemed to have put the skids on the South Africans. Kallis did his job putting on valuable runs when his side was tottering at five down for 58. Klusener, who came in at the fall of Kallis, changed things around. Along with Mark Boucher he went on the rampage and the pair plundered 44 runs from 24 balls to set the tone for victory.

Earlier, opting to bat, Pakistan put on 41 for the opening wicket, and the going was smooth in the first one hour. But the bowling changes made by the `thinking captain' Cronje decidedly tilted the scales in favour of the Proteas.

He brought in Steve Elworthy, who bowled a nagging line and length and the Pakistani batsmen struggled against him. Elworthy, who picked up the wickets of opener Saeed Anwar and Abdul Razzaq, finished with match figures of 10-2-23-2. Jonty Rhodes's sprint from point to covers to throw down the stumps, which caught Inzamam-ul-Haq short of his crease, became the most photographed dismissal of the World Cup.

At the end of the 42nd over, Pakistan was 150 for six. But Moin Khan's onslaught against Donald and Pollock, who conceded 27 runs in his last 12 balls, enabled Pakistan to cross the 200-run mark. Moin proved he could be a dangerous customer, especially in tough situations. The wicket-keeper batsman's (63, 56b) bailed out the team when the top-order failed miserably to fulfil its job. If Pakistan was able to make a fight out of it, the credit should largely go to Moin.

Australia v South Africa, Edgbaston, June 17.

In a contest between two of the best teams in the World Cup, it was only fitting that the match ended in a tie. However, Australia entered the final by virtue of having beaten South Africa in the Super Six stage.

In what was one the best matches in the 1999 World Cup, Klusener, after taking South Africa within sight of victory from a near impossible position, took off for a suicidal run off the penultimate ball of the last over. His partner Allan Donald was run out and the semifinal match ended in a tie. Australia, by virtue of its superior position in the Super Six stage, made it to the final-N. SRIDHARAN

Klusener, who produced a cameo whenever necessary during crucial situations, turned out to be the villain at Edgbaston. Chasing Australia's 213, South Africa was nine wickets down with Klusener and last batsman Donald at the crease and nine were required off the last over. Two sizzling boundaries from `Zulu' off Damien Fleming tied the scores. A dot ball followed. With two balls remaining, Klusener took off after hitting the ball past the bowler. Allan Donald, at the other end, did not respond and both were stranded at one end. It was mayhem when Michael Bevan, rolling the ball, missed the stumps at the non-striker's end. But Fleming gathered the ball and passed it to wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, who did the rest. Leg-spin wizard and `Man of the Match' Shane Warne (four for 29) provided the crucial breakthroughs for Australia.

One of the consistent batsmen in limited overs internationals, Bevan (65) and crisis man Steve Waugh (56) put Australia on track. It was their partnership, which denied the South Africans total domination. Against the accurate pair of Donald and Pollock, the Aussies ran out of ideas and the total of 213 was made possible only by the hard work of Waugh and Bevan, the latter being the last man out in attempting a wild slog in the final over of the innings. Australia's lower order had collapsed in a heap leaving the South Africans beaming at their splendid bowling effort.

For Klusener, who was 31 not out, this would be an unforgettable World Cup. Jacques Kallis (53) and Jonty Rhodes (43) were the other batsmen to contribute for South Africa. For the second time, the Proteas' dream was shattered in the semifinals of a World Cup — they had lost at the same stage back in 1992.

India v Pakistan, Old Trafford, June 8.

Venkatesh Prasad bowled his heart out and claimed five Pakistani wickets for 27 runs at Old Trafford. Here he traps Salim Malik in front.-V.V. KRISHNAN

A hyped up match between two bitter subcontinental rivals threw up several twists and turns before India emerged triumphant by 47 runs — an effort that kept India's hopes of a semifinal berth alive.

Batting first, India compiled 227 for five in 50 overs, with Rahul Dravid (61), Mohammed Azharuddin (59) and Sachin Tendulkar (54) being the chief contributors. Pakistan was bundled out for 180, the wrecker-in-chief being Venkatesh Prasad, who claimed five wickets for 27.

The Indian fans waved the tricolour strongly every time Prasad struck to bring the team back into the game. Salim Malik, Saeed Anwar and Inzamam-ul-Haq, all became Prasad's victims.

Azharuddin used his chief weapon Prasad judiciously and the soft-spoken Karnataka bowler responded brilliantly to produce one of the best performances in his career. For Pakistan, Inzamam was the top-scorer with 41 runs.

India's innings, notwithstanding Tendulkar's brisk knock, seemed to be losing its way but Azharuddin led from the front with a typically stoic innings, which saw him struggling initially before coming into the groove in the slog overs.

Tendulkar and Dravid realised that the best way to succeed on this pitch was to wait for the ball. They did not allow the bowlers to dominate and came up with splendid running between the wickets.

Prasad took the honours with a spell that was mainly responsible for the win in a match, which was volatile outside the field and electric on it.