Sri Lanka’s clashes against South Africa in World Cups have always been very enthralling contests. Since 1992 when the two sides first clashed, both Sri Lanka and South Africa have faced off each other in four World Cup matches. South Africa have won two of those matches and Sri Lanka have won one only once, with one match being tied. (Full Coverage| Points table| Fixtures)
But what the results log does not show is the close nature of those contests. In 1992, Sri Lanka registered a hard-fought three-wicket win in the first-ever contest between the two sides since South Africa’s return from isolation. Then the two sides met again in the 1999 World Cup in Northampton, but this time South Africa were much too good for Sri Lanka. Hansie Cronje’s side won by an impressive 89-run margin.
But then the last two encounters between the two sides have been the ones to remember. In the 2003 World Cup, hosts South Africa needed to beat Sri Lanka to make it to the Super Six stage. Sri Lanka, batting first, posted 268 for nine in their 50 overs. The star performers with the bat were Marvan Atapattu (124) and Aravinda de Silva (73). In their chase, South Africa were nicely placed at 124 for two, before they lost three wickets in a row.
Rain played spoilsport thereafter with South Africa’s target being reduced to 230 from 45 overs. But somehow in the confusion over what is the target and what is the par score, South Africa messed up the rules of the Duckworth-Lewis Method. South African wicket-keeper Mark Boucher slammed a six to level the scores. But he was confused by the par score and target required, so he calmly tapped the ball to mid-wicket to tie the match. If Boucher had stolen a single, South Africa would have progressed further. Instead, South Africa were knocked out from their own World Cup! Shaun Pollock had to pay with his captaincy for this grave mistake.
Then in a Super Eights match of the 2007 World Cup at the Providence stadium in Guyana, South Africa were again involved in a chase against Sri Lanka. South Africa restricted Sri Lanka to 209 all out in 49.3 overs with Charl Langeveldt taking five for 39. In their response, South Africa were progressing merrily at 160 for two, before a collapse brought them down to 182 for five. Then with just four runs needed for a win, a bizarre turn of events unfolded.
Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga claimed four wickets in four balls, a World Cup and ODI record, to reduce South Africa from 206 for five to 207 for nine. Malinga claimed the wickets of Pollock, Andrew Hall, Jacques Kallis and Makhaya Ntini. Kallis who was holding the innings together with a gritty 86 off 110 balls was the eighth man to fall.
But despite the bizarre turn of events, South Africa still managed to sneak home a winner as the bowling hero Langeveldt held his own with the bat to fashion a one-wicket win.
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