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World Cup flashbacks: When South Africa was packed off by a bizarre rain rule

South Africa

Bengaluru, May 3: The 1992 World Cup was special in many ways. It was in this edition that the face of one-day cricket had changed. The import of coloured kit, white ball, glowing stadiums at night had made the World Cup a truly attractive affair.

However, there was one feature of this World Cup - the first one to be held South of the Equator - that had left the fans displeased and disgusted and it was the 'dreaded' rain-rule.

The Duckworth-Lewis method was still a distant one and even Albert Einstein would have struggled to decode the rain rule of the 1992 World Cup: they cut the overs but almost no runs!

In the league stages, India found themselves at the receiving end of the horrible rule as they lost to Australia by a run (second time in a World Cup). Pakistan, on the other hand, had benefited from the rain disruptions as since there was no reserve-day play, they got a point despite getting bowled out for 74 and it was England who were at the receiving end then. But none bled as profusely as South Africa and their supporters because of the rule.

The African nation were making their debut in the 1992 World Cup as they were making their comeback from the ban for apartheid regime. Led by Kepler Wessels, the men in green made a blistering debut in the tournament by crushing holders and hosts Australia by ninewickets. They then went on to beat the West Indies, Pakistan, India and Zimbabwe en oute to the semifinals.

The Proteas met England who had beaten them in the league (again by the same rain-rule) and the stage was the historic Sydney. Wessels won the toss and asked Graham Gooch's men to bat first. Propelled by Africa-born Graeme Hick's 83 and Alex Stewart's 33, England posted a competitive score of 252 for six in 45 overs. Spearheads Allan Donald and Meyrick Pringle took two wickets each.

When disaster struck!

South Africa did not have the best of start to their chase, especially with in-form Peter Kirsten done in by a scorching leg cutter from Phil DeFreitas.

But a 46 by Andrew Hudson and 43 by Jonty Rhodes brought them back into the chase and they were 232 for six in 42.5 overs when the skies opened up.

At that stage, the Proteas required another 21 in 13 balls which was achievable considering the situation.

But the bizarre and incomprehensible rain rules then came into play. The revised target that South Africa got after the divine interventions was 22 runs of just 1 ball! They lost two overs but not a single run discount in the target.

Brian McMillan, who was batting at the moment, took a single off the last ball off Chris Lewis and started walking towards the pavilion, leaving even his victorious opponents embarrassed.

England won by 19 runs though it was more a win in lottery than cricket. The match though had a reserve day for the semifinals but because of the high demand of the broadcasters - Channel Nine - the match had to be completed on the day even if the ball floated on the ground.

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Story first published: Friday, May 3, 2019, 10:54 [IST]
Other articles published on May 3, 2019
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