You may have the clue of what I’m about to jot down in this blog. Just the phrase “Greatest ODI” gives a hint of the match that was played in one of the craziest scenarios.
With lightning fast outfield and a pitch so flat that even tail enders could manage runs, South Africa and Australia battled each other in one of the most amazing and riveting contests in cricketing history.
The one day series between the Proteas and Australia in the 2006 series was tied at 2-2. The teams had to play their best to claim the ODI series.
Ricky Ponting won the toss and chose to bat first. Adam Gilchrist and Simon Katich opened the bat for the Australians. Taking advantage of the condition, the innings started with a flyer. The Australian openers played exquisite strokes and showed that they meant business. Andrew Hall provided the breakthrough for South Africa at the score of 97.
Ricky Ponting played a master class innings. With the help of 9 sixes and 13 fours, he played his best innings of his ODI career as he made 164 runs from 105 balls. Michael Hussey with 81 and the disastrous 48th over by Roger Telemachus, which had 4 consecutive no-balls, helped the Australian side to reach a world record score of 434 in their 50 overs.
With nothing to lose and the full support of the crowd, South African openers came out to the field to a tremendous cheer. Disaster struck early as the Proteas lost Boeta Dippenaar early on. Then Herschelle Gibbs came and hammered the Australian bowling department.
Gibbs treated the Australian bowlers exactly in the same fashion as Ponting did earlier . Nathan Bracken dropped a catch which proved to be quite expensive for the visiting team. He pelted the Australian attack to all the corners of the fence. With 21 fours and 7 sixes, Gibbs became the highest scorer of the matches with his master class knock of 175 runs.
Graeme Smith played a captain’s knock of 90 runs, comprising of 13 fours and 2 sixes.
It seemed like Mick Lewis’ bowling was actually in favor of the South African batting. He conceded 113 runs from his 10 overs, making a world record of most runs conceded in a match.
Mark Boucher provided a half century for the team and some lower order batting helped the side as well. The last over was one of the most tensed in cricketing history.
Needing seven runs and with two wickets in hand in the final over, the second ball was put away to the boundary by Andrew Hall. Trying to be a hero, Hall mistimed the shot and Michael Clarke caught the man. It was up-to Makhaya Ntini to take the crucial single and give strike to Boucher. He placed the ball to the 3rd man. Mark Boucher finished the match with a boundary and a ball to spare and a wicket in hand, making it the highest and the most entertaining run chase ever.
Never in cricketing history has a run chase been that fascinating and enjoyable. South Africa did the unthinkable and chased the highest total in ODI history. The crowd cheered every ball that conceded runs and stood by the team through thick and thin. Indeed the match is the “Greatest One Day International” ever played.