SC Flashback: When South Africa ruled the mighty Australians with record chase

aus vs sa chase

In today’s time, Cricket is a batsman’s game and no one gets surprised when a team puts up a total of 350 and over in an ODI because of the pitches that the countries have started to make. But, there was a time when it was not at all easy to even touch 300. Up until 2008 and 2009, making more than 300 or even touching was a big task and a team would some really good performance with to bat to reach there.

But, Cricket is a game of great uncertainty. At a time, when scoring 300 was a big task, the mighty Australians did the unthinkable. On March 12, 2006, the Aussies were going up against South Africa in the final ODI of the five-match series at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. It was a crucial game for both teams as the series was drawn with 2-2 scoreline. Both needed to win to nab the trophy.

Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting won the toss and elected to bat first and what happened next was just an example of how cricket will be played in the coming future.

Openers Adam Gilchrist and Simon Katich took the African bowlers head-on, smashing them for boundaries in almost every over. Gilly played a superb knock of 55 off just 44 balls to give a solid foundation to the side. Ponting came at number three and annihilated the bowling lineup of the Proteas.

Katich and Ponting continue to hammer the South Africa bowler till the 30th over and breached the 200-run mark. Simon was the next to be dismissed on a score of 79.

But Ponting did not stop, he just changed his gears and showed the world what kind of player he is. With the help of Michael Hussey, Ponting played like there was no tomorrow. Smashing bowlers like Makhaya Ntini, Andrew Hall, and Johan van der Wath effortlessly, the former Australian skipper reached the 100-run mark. When everyone thought that the storm will now come to end, the dynamic duo of Hussey and Ponting increased the speed of scoring runs.

The former Australian skipper pulled the ball across the shorter square boundaries and he drove it past the longer straight ropes like he was playing against school-going children. He played a terrific knock 164 runs off just 105 deliveries, including 13 fours and 9 sixes.

Hussey gave the much-needed support with an inning 81 runs and stitched a partnership of 158 runs to take Australia to a massive total of 374. A nice, little cameo from Andrew Symonds took the Men in Yellow to a “world record” score of 434 in 50 overs.

All the five South African bowlers – Ntini, Hall, Van Der Wath, Roger Telemachus, and Jacques Kallis – gave more than 70 runs each in their respective quota of overs.

The Proteas had a challenge ahead of the. Not just a challenge, but a huge challenger to do something magical that their names can also be written in the history books.

Chasing 435, the Rainbow Nation started on a disastrous note as they lost opener Boeta Dippenaar in the second over. At number three, it was Herschelle Gibbs who walked out to bat and from the very first ball, he made his intentions clear that he will smash the bowlers all over the park.

The pair scored 190 runs in the next 20 overs with Gibbs being the more aggressive. He played every shot that could have been offered on that day. From pull to cut, Gibbs was a force to be reckoned. Skipper Graeme Smith played a vital part in the partnership and played a superb knock of 90.

Smith was dismissed after scoring 90 runs off just 55 deliveries, including 13 fours and 2 sixes. AB de Villiers and Jaques Kallis could not contribute much and got out cheaply while Herschelle Gibbs became the second batsman in the game to struck a 150+ score.

Eventually, he fell at the score of 175 of just 111 balls with the help of 21 fours and 7 sixes.

Experienced Mark Boucher and relatively new Van Der Wath took the challenge to take their team over the line and added crucial 44 runs for the seventh wicket and did the unthinkable as they breached 400-run mark too. This was the time that both sides made 400+ runs in each innings in an ODI.

But the game was not over yet. South African now had it in their minds that they can still win this game while the Aussies believe that they can surely take the last two wickets to finish the game. The Aussies were successful in dismissing Andrew Hall and needed just one wicket to win.

Ntini, who came at the crease, took a single and gave the strike back to Mark Boucher. Now, the Proteas needed just one run in two balls and Aussies needed just 1 wicket. Every person in the stadium was standing, every person watching on the TV was not even blinking his or her eyes.

Brett Lee started to run and bowled the second last ball to Boucher. The wicketkeeper-batsman just slapped the ball hard towards the mid-wicket and achieved something that had never happened before. South Africa won the game by one wicket and clinched the series.

South Africa v Australia - 5th ODI

Chasing a target of 435 was always difficult, but the way they played with precision, showed why South Africa are always considered to be one of the best teams in the world.

The game set a benchmark and gave a new direction to cricket. Cricket, after that match, was never the same again.