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Flashback: Aussies win 1999 World Cup final

20 June 2017
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A Shane Warne masterclass routs Pakistan as Waugh's warriors march to the title

About the Writer:
 @ARamseyCricket

Andrew Ramsey is the senior writer for cricket.com.au. He previously wrote for the Guardian, The Australian, The Times, The Telegraph, The Hindu and Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and the author of The Wrong Line.

It was following Australia’s 10-run loss to Pakistan less than a month earlier – their second defeat from three starts in a faltering 1999 World Cup campaign – that Steve Waugh proclaimed matter-of-factly his team simply had to win its next seven matches to secure the title.

Even though that feat was no longer possible – the fact the semi-final against South Africa ended in a tie will forever remain a pub trivia night question – on the back of resurgent team belief, individual heroics and six undefeated outings on the trot, the Australians were in the final.

And it was the enigmatic talents of Pakistan, as well as the equally unpredictable London early summer weather, that presented the final hurdle.


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In the wake of the scarcely-believable finish at Edgbaston, the Australians' greatest challenge in the two spare days between the semi-final and the decider was to get their heads right.

Within a couple of overs against South Africa they had gone from potential finalists to crestfallen losers to unlikely beneficiaries, granted passage to the final by dint of a horribly botched single and the tournament’s rules relating to tied results in elimination matches.

Celebrations in wake of the semi-final were muted, the day after the game was spent making the trip from Birmingham to the capital and settling into their familiar London digs, and a light training run ensued on match eve.

Despite having lost to Pakistan earlier in the competition, Waugh’s team felt buoyed to be playing a side that was famous for running scalding hot or ice cold.

Steve Waugh and Wasim Akram after the coin toss // Getty
Steve Waugh and Wasim Akram after the coin toss // Getty

The pre-final planning centred as much on psychology as it did on batting and bowling strategies.

The mercurial nature of the Pakistanis meant they could also be easily flustered, especially in such a high stakes contest so the Australians fielders would hurl the ball back to ‘keeper Adam Gilchrist – as close to the opposing batsmen as was politely allowed – at every opportunity.

It was a ploy designed to raise anxiety levels among Wasim Akram’s men as surely as depriving their free-flowing batsmen of boundaries and taking the attack to their menacing but notoriously fractious new-ball bowlers.

Apart from the half hour delay to the start caused by a heavy morning shower, everything fell into place for an Australian side that proved as ruthlessly flawless as its opponent was skittish and clueless.

Opting to bat first, Pakistan’s fans sensed it was not to be their day when Mark Waugh hung parallel to the Lord’s turf to pluck a slips catch off Glenn McGrath.

Mark Waugh gets horizontal for a stunning catch // Getty
Mark Waugh gets horizontal for a stunning catch // Getty

Their innings finished less than 40 overs later when Ricky Ponting clung to an equally improbable chance from the same bowler with Pakistan’s total a seriously-below-par 132.

In between, Shane Warne mesmerised batsmen who had handled him with ease at Headingley weeks earlier and claimed 4-33 to secure player of the match honours in the second consecutive game at the pointy end of the tournament.

Just as important was Damien Fleming’s removal of opener Saeed Anwar who had scored centuries in each of Pakistan’s previous two matches.

And equally newsworthy was Pakistan’s muddled thinking as wickets continued to crash, and rather than trying to play out their full allotment of overs and build a score that was at possibly defendable they continued to self-destruct in pursuit of glory shots.

There was no better example than Akram’s ill-timed slog against Warne that gifted his wicket and left his team all but sunk at 9-129 in the 38th over.

Shane Warne celebrates en route to 4-33 // Getty
Shane Warne celebrates en route to 4-33 // Getty

Australia’s only concern was losing a clatter of wickets against Akram and the tournament’s fastest bowler Shoaib Akhtar when the ball was new but, playing what was to become his signature role in World Cup finals, Gilchrist put paid to any apprehension.

He took to the already rattled Pakistanis with unabashed intent, and reached 50 (with eight boundaries and a six) inside the first 10 overs.

Gilchrist smashes another boundary on his way to 54 // Getty
Gilchrist smashes another boundary on his way to 54 // Getty

At that stage, Australia was more than halfway to victory and the Cup’s destiny was decided.

It was Darren Lehmann who carved the winning boundary, and the game was done by early afternoon.

Darren Lehmann hit the winning runs in 1999 // Getty
Darren Lehmann hit the winning runs in 1999 // Getty

The celebration party, however, was a much longer affair.

Darkness was closing in as Waugh and his team filed out of the Pavilion, through the famous Lord’s Long Room and out on to the pitch.

There, in front of stands empty but for Old Father Time on his wind vane, the gilded trophy was placed at the member’s end, Ponting hauled himself on to Tom Moody’s shoulders and the most rousing chorus of ‘Beneath the Southern Cross’ yet heard in St John’s Wood was bellowed into the night.

The Australians celebrate on the Lord's balcony // Getty
The Australians celebrate on the Lord's balcony // Getty

This is an edited extract from 'The Wrong Line' by Andrew Ramsey, published by ABC Books.

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