SK Flashback: Australia's triumph in the 1999 World Cup

23 Jun 1999:  The Australian cricket team pose for the official Australian Cricket Board World Cup team picture at the Crown Casino,Melbourne, Australia.  Mandatory Credit: Hamish Blair/ALLSPORT
Team Australia with the World Cup Trophy

1999 was a special year in the history of Australian cricket. By that time, the team had shown its domination both home and away. They were the heavyweights in Test and ODI cricket but they needed a World Cup victory to stamp the authority on world cricket.

They had won the World Cup once before in 1987 but it was the Allan Border era. A lot had changed in 12 years. The brand of cricket had changed, ODI cricket itself had changed and a whole new perspective had arrived for the 50-over format.

The 1999 World Cup was held in England and a bit in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Netherlands and barring West Indies, no team had won the tournament more than once. Australia came close to winning in 1996 but Sri Lanka halted them in the final.

Come the ICC event in 1999, there were several superpowers in the cricketing world that were ready to compete. It was the perfect time for the Aussies to showcase their supremacy. As it turned out, Australia became the World Champions for the second time; the Steve Waugh era had it’s red letter day.

Let’s take a look back at the enthralling journey of Australia’s triumph in the 1999 World Cup.

A mixed bag in the Group Stage

Australia were placed in Group B alongside Pakistan, New Zealand, West Indies, Bangladesh and Scotland. Each side was to play against every other side in the group before the top 3 would move to the Super Six stage.

The Aussies met Scotland in the first match and eased to a victory. They bowled the opposition out for 181 and then chased it down without any hiccups.

An comfortable start suddenly turned into a tough one as they lost 2 consecutive matches post the opener. First, their arch-rivals New Zealand got the better of them and inflicted a thumping victory. Then they met an in-form Pakistani team who also emerged victorious.

They were in a spot of bother but the thing that worked in their favour was the weak opposition in the following game. Bangladesh weren’t a strong side in those days and were easily defeated by the Steve Waugh-led side.

With 4 points from 4 matches, they had to beat West Indies in the last league match in such a manner that their net run rate would be greater than the opposition who were on 6 points. Australia enforced a crushing victory over them by bowling them out for just 110 and managed to chase down the target.

The victory meant that Australia qualified for the next round occupying the second spot in the points table. Pakistan were the toppers from the group, New Zealand were placed at number 3, and West Indies were knocked out.

Domination in the Super Six

ICC Cricket World Cup Super Six  Australia v South Africa : News Photo
Steve Waugh led with the bat for Australia

In the next round, Australia were set to play the top 3 sides from the Group A which were South Africa, India and Zimbabwe. The concept of Super Six was introduced for the first time and it was important to win big as the points from the previous round were also carried forward.

From then on, the Aussies raised their game. They humiliated India in the first game and then crushed Zimbabwe in the second. The road to the semi-final was looking easy but they still had to defeat South Africa in the last match.

Chasing a stiff target of 271 set by the Proteas, Steve Waugh was dropped by Herschelle Gibbs when Australia were in trouble. It was an iconic moment that is remembered till date. Waugh supposedly told Gibbs that he not only dropped the catch but also the World Cup.

Also read: SK Flashback: When Herschelle Gibbs dropped Steve Waugh in the World Cup

The Australian skipper went on to score 120 from 110 balls and took his side past the finish line to set up another clash with South Africa, this time, in the semi-final.

A dramatic semi-final

Cricket World Cup 1999 : News Photo
Klusener nearly ended Australia’s final hopes

Once again, the two teams were up against each other. Australia batted first and were restricted to 213 runs courtesy a five-wicket haul by Shaun Pollock. Steve Waugh once again came good and scored a 50 with Michael Bevan too reaching the landmark.

Australia kept picking regular wickets in South Africa’s innings and brought them down to 175/6 in the 45th over. 3 more wickets fell in the next 4 overs but Lance Kluesner kept them in the hunt with a blistering cameo.

The left-hander scored 31 off 16 balls and took his side close to the finishing line. The scores were tied in the final over. The fielders were inside the 30-yard circle to save the single. Damien Fleming was the bowler and Klusener was one hit away from taking his side to the final.

Fleming bowled the 4th ball fuller outside off and the batsman drilled that towards mid-off and took off immediately. Allan Donald at the non-striker’s end made a horrendous mistake of watching the ball and didn’t see his partner running.

Klusener reached the non-striker’s end and that’s when Donald realised he too had to run. Mark Waugh threw the ball to Fleming who in turn rolled the ball towards the keeper, Adam Gilchrist who took off the bails and Donald was miles short of the crease.

The game ended in a tie but because Australia had defeated South Africa once before in the tournament, they were through to the final. It was another moment that is remembered vividly in the World Cup history.

Decimation in the final

ICC Cricket World Cup Final - Australia v Pakistan : News Photo
Pakistan were shrugged off by the Aussies

The ultimate showdown arrived against Pakistan who had done so well in the tournament. Lord’s was the venue for the grand finale where Pakistan batted first after winning the toss.

As it turned out, Australia brought their A game in the final and bowled the Asian side out for just 132. Shane Warne was the leading destructor as he took 4 wickets. The impact was such that the Extras were the highest contributor with 25 runs.

Chasing the paltry total, Adam Gilchrist blew off any hopes of a Pakistani comeback with a quickfire 54 off 36 balls. Australia won the match by 8 wickets in the 21st over and announced the world they were invincible.

Steve Waugh led from the front and ended up as the highest scorer for the team with 398 runs, only behind Rahul Dravid. Shane Warne finished as the leading wicket-taker with 20 scalps to his name.

It was the start of a dominating Australian era and they went on to win the following two World Cups in 2003 and 2007 as well. But 1999 was the one where it all started.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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