One-Day International, Australia v. South Africa
Abarb Miaz Stadium, Peshawar
Monday, 24 October.
Australia had the last laugh at Abarb Miaz Stadium today, albeit
nervously, defeating South Africa with two balls to spare despite
Hansie Cronje's undefeated century, reached from the final ball
of the morning's innings. In a rousing finish, rookie Justin
Langer struck fours from the last three balls of the 49th over to
level the scores, Jo Angel was bowled for a duck by the third
ball of the last over but Craig McDermott drove the winning sin-
gle next ball.
It was a gallant performance by Australia since the light
throughout the afternoon was said by an Australian photographer
to be dimmer than in a night match at the SCG. Every batsman
played a part but it needed the eyes of the young tyros Langer
and Michael Bevan, as keen as the birds of prey circling endless-
ly above the ground, to save the fading day.
This was Australia's fourth win in five qualifying matches in the
tournament and South Africa's fifth successive defeat.
Peshawar, at the foot of the Khyber Pass, has a lawless, wild
west feel about it, and today there were armed police scrutinis-
ing the crowds from nearby water tanks and rooftops. The crowd
threw litter constantly at the outfielders, and even a few fire-
crackers, one landing so near David Boon that it stopped his
heart for a couple of beats and the match for a couple of
But the Peshawar people showed an enthusiasm for cricket that
shamed some of their countrymen elsewhere, three quarters filling
the stadium although Pakistan were not playing, and generously
applauding when Shane Warne came on to bowl and Jonty Rhodes came
out to bat. They approved heartily when Fanie de Villiers donned
a topee, a traditional local woollen knit hat and. later, when
Cronje tried on a policeman's riot helmet.
The tournament has come alive in the last week, with all three
teams suddenly able to score at around five per over and Cronje's
100 not out today the fourth individual century in the last three
Cronje has become a nemesis for Australia, having made three
scores in the nineties, and now this century against them, all
this year. Cronje has only failed to reach 50 once in five in-
nings in this series.
He arrived at the crease upon the fall of the man he is destined
to succeed soon as captain, Kepler Wessels, in just the third
over. The shadows were long since it was just after 9am, but
Cronje seems immune to regional peculiarities and distractions.
It is doubtful that even a firecracker on middle and leg would
have shaken him. He played straight, hit hard and once he was
sure he had all the dimensions of the pitch and the attack,
stamped his authority by lofting Tim May for six twice, and later
dealing with Warne in the same summary fashion.
Cronje established partnerships of 85 with Gary Kirsten (45 from
55 balls) and 65 with Daryll Cullinan (36 from 34 balls). Cul-
linan even took the previously unsampled liberty of pulling Warne
over mid-wicket for six and when South Africa were 2-156 from 30
overs, they seemed bound for a score of more than 300.
But South Africa's Achilles heel is their lack of depth in their
batting, and once Warne had bowled Cullinan behind his legs, Aus-
tralia were able to bind up the ensuing batsmen so that they
scored only 95 from the last 20 overs. Glenn McGrath was notably
the meanest of the bowlers, which means that he almost certainly
will replace Damien Fleming for the third Test in Lahore next
Cronje looked likely to be stranded yet again in the nineties,
and finally needed a boundary from the last ball to gain 100.
Michael Slater (54 from 81 balls), Mark Waugh (43 from 54), David
Boon (39 from 43) and Michael Bevan (45 from 55) all played well
but run-outs were costly and it needed the derring-do of Langer
to secure the victory. Playing just his third innings on tour,
Langer remained 33 not out from merely 19 balls.
- Greg Baum, Sydney Morning Herald.
- David Mar.
Cricket on WWW: http://www.physics.su.oz.au/~mar/cricket.html
Astrophysics Department, University of Sydney NSW 2006, Australia