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World Cup flashbacks: In 1999, Australia crawled to win trying to push West Indies into the Super Six

Steve Waugh

Bengaluru, April 27: Sometimes, bizarre rules made for specific tournaments force teams to use innocuous ways to win the games.

For example, in the 1999 World Cup held in England, there was a rule whereby teams could carry with them points to the Super Six if the opponents they had beaten had also qualified for the same.

Didn't get it? Let us explain. If Team A had beaten Team B in the group stage and if both the teams progressed to the Super Six that would decide the semi-finalists, Team A would carry two points with them and start from there in the Super Six stage.

Australia, who had only one world title to their credit till then, were in a spot of bother as they had lost to two big teams in the fray - New Zealand and Pakistan. They had beaten debutants Scotland and Bangladesh and needed to beat the West Indies in their final group game to advance to the Super Six. The Windies had three wins out of four and at the moment and looked good to make the Super Six.

The two sides met at Old Trafford on May 30 where Aussie skipper Steve Waugh won the toss and sent Brian Lara's team to bat first.

Australia were yet to get the finest service of their spearhead Glenn McGrath. He had taken only five wickets in four games till then but made a confident prediction ahead of the game saying he would take five wickets.

Given his form at that moment, not many would have taken him seriously but the Pigeon's mind game paid off as the Caribbeans took his words literally. McGrath returned with the figures of 5 for 14 in 8.4 overs and his scalps included the great Lara (something McGrath had written before the game as well). The Windies were shot out for a paltry 110 inside 47 overs.

Waugh, Bevan made spectators sleep

The Australians required to knock off the runs inside 47 overs to advance to the Super Six. But since going to the next round with Pakistan and New Zealand would have meant Australia carrying zero points, they tried to push the Windies into the Super Six by dragging on the game as late as they could.

Australia's explosive batting line-up took more than 40 overs to overhaul the small target with Waugh (19 not out off 73 balls) and Michael Bevan (20 not out off 69 balls) playing the sort of innings that would have embarrassed even the Test-friendly Sunil Gavaskar of the 1975 edition.

Australia eventually won by six wickets, despite some steady bowling from Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, both of whom played their final World Cup game.

Australia had later admitted that their target was to see themselves as well as the Windies through at the expense of their trans-Tasman rivals, but the ploy did not work. At the end, the Kiwis pipped the Windies by 0.08 points to make the Super Six even though they ended with same points (six).

The spectators did not appreciate the 'Test in colours' in Manchester even though McGrath had scripted one of the finest bowling performances in ODI on the day.

 
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Story first published: Saturday, April 27, 2019, 15:10 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 27, 2019
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