Rain rules!

The scoreboard says it all...as to how a rain rule short-changed South Africa.-PICS: V. V. KRISHNAN

South Africa — ineligible to take part in the showpiece event, the World Cup, from 1975 to 1987 because of the country’s apartheid policies — nearly upset all calculations while making its debut in the event in 1992. But for rain and its allied rules for the competition, South Africa may have contested the final and won it too; to its chagrin though, the team found all calculations going against it in the semi-final against England at the SCG.

The disappointed Kepler Wessels’ team showed no rancor and earned much respect. There was also wholehearted sympathy for a team that — after the last of the revised target — was asked to score 22 off 1 ball to win the semi-final!

Chasing 253 in a match reduced to 45 overs, Andrew Hudson (46 off 53 balls), Adrian Kuiper (36 off 44 balls), Jonty Rhodes (43 off 39 balls) and Brian McMillan (21 batting off 21) and David Richardson, presently the ICC CEO (13 batting off 10 balls), had taken their team to the doorstep of victory.

A 12-minute rain-stoppage resulted in a target of 22 off 13 balls revised to 22 off 7 balls and then eventually to 1 ball. Nearly 35,000 spectators saw McMillan run a single off a Chris Lewis delivery and the teams return to the pavilion for the last time.

The competition rules did not provide for the use of floodlights for this match and no reserve day (for league matches) was provided because of the distances the teams had to travel in Australia and across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand. Reserve days were provided for the knock-out games, but the broadcaster’s compulsions forced the match to be completed on the first day of the semi-final.

The ICC had decided that a reduction in target (in the event of rain interfering with the match in the second innings) would be proportionate to the lowest scoring overs of the team that had batted first. This was done to eliminate the simple run-rate arithmetic that did not favour the team that had set the target.

Indian skipper MD. Asharuddin makes a point to his Australian counterpart Allan Border at the 1992 World Cup league match in Brisbane. India lost the rain-affected match by one run!-

The rain-rule calculations nearly saw England beaten by South Africa in the league match at the MCG. In this case South Africa made 236 and after a rain stoppage, England’s target was reduced by only 11 runs, but left-hander Neil Fairbrother’s 75 not out off 83 balls enabled it to win the match with 1 ball remaining.

Other matches affected by rain in the event:

India v Australia, Brisbane: Australia 237 for nine in 50 overs, India 234 in 47 overs (Australia declared winner by 1 run on revised target). A 15-minute stoppage took away three overs and India’s target got reduced by a mere two runs. India needed 13 from the last over.

England v Pakistan, Adelaide: Pakistan 74 in 40.2 overs, England 24 for 1 in eight overs. England was 17 for one at lunch, but rain allowed just two overs and its target was revised to 64 off 16 overs. Had there been a reserve day, Pakistan may have lost the match. Pakistan had recovered from 47 for eight to 74 with No. 9 Wasim Haider making 13 and No. 10 Mushtaq Ahmed scoring 17.

New Zealand v Zimbabwe, Napier: New Zealand 162 for 3 in 20.5 overs, Zimbabwe 105 for 7 in 18 overs. The match was delayed and there were two more rain interruptions. Zimbabwe’s target was reduced to 154 in 18 overs.

India v Zimbabwe, Hamilton: India 203 for seven in 32 overs, Zimbabwe 104 for one in 19.1 overs. Ali Omarshah, Andy Flower and Andy Waller took their side to 104 for one in 19.1 overs when rain came down and Zimbabwe lost the match by 55 runs, its target revised to 159 (the runs India scored from 19 highest overs).

G. Viswanath