March 29th, 2007 : Quiztion of the Day - 17:
With 36 balls to go while chasing a modest target of 210 runs, South Africa was cruising along very well at 200/5 and one would have expected Shaun Pollock to hit the winning runs in the 45th over itself bowled by Lasith Malinga. Pollock flicked the second ball of that over through mid wicket for a glorious boundary and when the fourth ball took the bottom edge of Pollock’s bat and ran to the third man for two runs, just a boundary hit was needed for victory. One can not blame the players sitting in the balcony of South African dressing room at that time including their captain Graeme Smith if they were preparing themselves to stand up from their seats to celebrate and congratulate Pollock and Kallis hoping them to finish of all the good work done earlier by their top and middle order batsmen.
But Malinga not only changed the pace of his next delivery but also changed the entire script of the South African Victory at the very last moment. First Pollock misread the slower ball and played inside the line to lose his leg stump. Then Malinga produced another lethal delivery with the last ball of that over at a yorker length to get Andrew Hall out for a first ball duck spooning an easy catch to Tharanga at covers. Everybody thought may be that was just a small hiccup; after all, there was no need to panic with the cool headed Jacques Kallis still anchoring at one end of the innings and a victory was just a boundary hit away. But Chaminda Vaas too was calmness personified when he started the next over. Though Kallis drove him for a single of the first ball, Vaas , in my view has bowled superbly in that and next over given the circumstances and made sure he did not concede another run or an extra.
When Kallis was facing Malinga again in the next over, nobody would have imagined one of the best batsmen in the World and also very well set at that time with an impeccable 86 to his name would become the third victim of Malinga’s hat-trick. When Ntini came to the wicket with 8 wickets down and still three runs needed for victory it was anybody’s game and suddenly Sri Lanka scared the living daylights out of South African team. Living up to his reputation of being one of the best bowlers to bowl at death, Malinga bowling at a furious pace and one of the most menacing spells ever recorded in International cricket uprooted the middle stump of Ntini with the next delivery. Suddenly, the “Chokers of the World Cup” tag that South Africa wanted to get rid of so badly was once again started to loom large in front of the South African dressing room. Four wickets in four balls by Malinga or the Double Hat-trick as they call it down under is like Gibbs’ Six Sixes of Six balls against Netherlands, a first time occurrence in any international match. It would have become five in five if the width of the stump was broader by a width of a hair. Of the fifth ball of that over Langeveldt gets a single to get closer to the target and Robin Peterson negotiates another beauty from Malinga and narrowly misses edging it to the wicket keeper.
Just two runs to go for South Africa and one wicket to take for Sri Lanka. Vaas bowls an excellent maiden over again beating the batsman thrice and almost stopping the beating of the heart for many a South African Players and fans equally, but failing to finish of the match.
When Peterson swings and misses the first ball of 49th over of the innings and Malinga’s final over of his spell, no one was sure which was the match was swinging. But the following delivery from Malinga gets an outside edge of Peterson’s bat and runs over to third man in a flash to seal the match for South Africa and putting an end to one of the most dramatic finishes in One Day as well as World Cup Cricket history. A game that everyone at the ground thought would be finished in one delivery when Shaun Pollock was still batting took 26 deliveries and almost half an hour of nerve wracking drama before South Africa could get their first hard-earned two points of the Super 8s.
Any second thoughts for those who advocated that there wouldn’t be any charm and luster in Super 8s with the exit of India and Pakistan. If the amazing performances of the players in the first two games of the Super 8 stage is an indication of the drama that is going to unfold during the next 30days, we are still left with many STARS still shining in the tournament and playing for the team cause who do not disappoint their fans and the lovers of the game all over the world.
Though attendances at the this match in Georgetown, Guyana and the other match which was resumed at St. Peter’s Antigua in which Lara put up some resistance to the Australian juggernaut but could not save his country from getting beaten up by more than hundred runs margin, I strongly believe, its because of the pricing of the tickets rather than the lack of interest and following of the World Cup. I for one received several emails and phone calls hailing this match as one of the greatest they have ever seen or followed on the internet. I have no doubt in my mind games like this will bring back the crowds back to the stadium or at least will maintain the TV viewer ship & Internet surfers glued on to their TV sets or computer monitors for the rest of this world cup. I for one do not think the South Africa-Sri Lanka thriller is going to be the last of such encounters in this tournament.
Today’s 'Quiztion of the Day' relates to this dramatic finish between South Africa and Sri Lanka and consists of three parts. Here it goes:
South Africa’s victory by one wicket margin is third such result not only in World Cup history but also in all of ODI cricket. The previous two games were played between the same teams and had two players taking part in both those games.
1. Name the two teams involved in those close encounters and provide the match details.
2. Name the last wicket pair that registered the improbable wins.
3. Name the two players who took part in both those games and endured the drama on both occasions.
Remember to email your answers for each quiz individually to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line as 'Quiztion of the Day - X' (X being the question number) through out the tournament duration. Results will be first posted on http://www.dreamcricket.com/ website within a week of the World Cup Final.