June 13, 1999 | Leeds, Headingley
A semi-final berth was on the line and Steve Waugh’s captaincy was at stake when Australia faced the in-form South Africa in the final Super Six match at Headingley. Australia had not hit the stride and were very unconvincing in the group matches, having lost to Pakistan and New Zealand. The nature of the format meant that they had no carry forward points into the Super Six Stage. If Australia had lost, Zimbabwe would be the semi-finalists along with Pakistan, South Africa, and New Zealand.
South Africa powered their way to 271, with Herschelle Gibbs scoring a superb century. Their pacers halted the daunting chase. With the top-order gone, Waugh strode out, at 48/3, with Australia's hopes seemingly in tatters. "Let's see how he takes the pressure now," taunted Gibbs.
The captain reached his 50 from just 47 balls and kept his team alive in the chase. When on 56, just after a century partnership with Ricky Ponting, at 152/3, he flicked a Lance Klusener delivery to midwicket. Gibbs took it, but in his anxiety to celebrate with a skyward hurl, dropped the ball. Waugh quipped, "I hope you realize that you've just lost the game for your team". Taking it as a sign, he played remarkably brave shots to carve a magnificent century in 91 balls. The last 20 runs broke the back of the South African attack and Australia scraped home with 2 balls to spare and finished above them on the net-run-rate. That proved crucial after the tied semi-final. Without this masterpiece, there would have been no World Cup for Australia.
South Africa 271/7 (50 overs) | Herschelle Gibbs 101(134), Damien Fleming 3/57
Australia 272/5 (49.4 overs) | Steve Waugh 120*(110), Steve Elworthy 2/46
Australia won by 5 wickets | Man of the Match: Steve Waugh
Also read – Biggest world cup winPublished 22 Jun 2019, 20:00 IST