South Africa vs. Australia: The Match We Can Never Forget

History was made at Wanderers, Johannesburg on March 12 2006 when South Africa faced Australia in a legendary ODI match

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Australia v South Africa at the Wanderers in March 2006. No one who watched that match live can ever forget it. Once the match got over, everyone watched the highlights reel over and over again. We revisit history and that eventful day. Ricky Ponting won the toss and elected to bat first.

1. The Opening Partnership

In came the two openers, Adam Gilchrist and Simon Katich. Gilly starting aggressively with his powerful shots and traditional Katich matched him with his technical strokeplay. They both added 97 in just 15 overs which encouraged them to take the third power play from the 16th to 20th over. It didn’t prove great for Australia as Andrew Hall’s blinder sent Gilchrist back to the pavilion in the 16th over. But the stage was set for what would follow.

2. The Peerless Ponting

Katich scored a 90-ball 79. Meanwhile Ricky Ponting, playing his 250th ODI, took his time to get into his groove. And once he was set, he simply played with the South African bowlers. Elegant cover drives, patent pull shots marked yet another extra ordinary hundred, playing a captain’s innings. Ponting scored a century in just 71 deliveries.

3. Mr. Cricket Comes to the Party

Katich was followed Michael Hussey. The first two fours, one straight drive to long off and other cover drive. That grace was the sign off remarkable innings to come. Hussey made a quick fire 81 at a strike rate of 158.82, and adding a mammoth 158 runs with Ponting. Australia had crossed 350 mark before the 45th over.

4. Telemachus Melts Down

Australia were nearing history, the 400 mark, scoring 381 in 47 overs. Graeme Smith handed over the responsibility to Roger Telemachus. The first four balls were No-Balls and he gave away 19 runs without any legitimate delivery. The score was 400-3 at the end of 47 overs. The seventh ball of the over (third legal delivery), ended a remarkable innings of 164 by Ricky Ponting in just 105 balls. The debacle was so fierce that Telemachus couldn’t even smile. Australia scored 434 in their 50 overs.

5. Graeme Smith Holds Fort

Chasing a monumental 434, the ‘chokers’ were under huge pressure. It was the right time for Graeme Smith to join the party, after the early wicket of Boeta Dippenaar. He started aggressively and with Herschelle Gibbs on song, both added 187 for the second wicket. A much, much-needed partnership for the Proteas. Smith’s 55-ball 90 rebuilt his team’s self-confidence.

6. Glorious Gibbs

After Smith, Herschelle Gibbs was accompanied by A.B. DeVilliers. There was no stopping Gibbs, not even his captain’s wicket. Smashing the Oz bowlers all over the Wanderers’ park, he reached his hundred in 79 deliveries. And he was on for a big one.

7. Catches Win Matches 

In the 27th over, Gibbs went again for onslaught against Mick Lewis. But couldn’t middle it and the ball travels straight to Nathan Bracken at mid off. Australians emerge to celebrate a big wicket just to see Bracken drop a shoulder-height sitter. And then the Wanderers emerges in celebration, to add to Australia’s misery. At that stage, Gibbs was around 120 and South Africa still needed 190 in 23 overs.

8. Symonds, the Bowler and Bracken in action Again

Andrew Symonds does it for Australia with the ball. First conquers Gibbs at 175 and then Jacques Kallis. Two crucial breakthroughs. And Nathan Bracken makes up for his dropped catch too. Dismissing and AB Devilliers and Justin Kemp cheaply, brings Australia back into the game. Proteas have their backs to the wall with 80 more required in eight overs and just four wickets in hand.

9. Cameo from Van Der Wath

After an unimpressive show with bowling figures 10-0-76-0, Van Der Wath more than made up for it with the bat. A significant 18-ball 35 including one four and three sixes, turned the pressure tables on the Aussies. But Bracken brought Australia back, yet again. He dismissed Van Der Wath and Telemachus, leaving South Africa 35 short off 21 balls.

10. Calm and Sensible Boucher

After two quick wickets, it was Boucher’s responsibility to steady the ship to the coast. Marching slowly towards finishing line, South Africa needed seven in the last over. Brett Lee steaming in, and Andrew Hall hits the 2nd ball over mid wicket for a boundary. Two needed from four balls, Andrew Hall throws his wicket with an unnecessary, irresponsible shot. Makhaya Ntini, no. 11 comes to the crease. Two runs needed, three balls, one wicket in hand. Heartbeats were faster, nail-biting was common. And many nerves calmed down, as Ntini takes a sensible single. Scores were level. One needed off two balls, Boucher batting on 46. Lofts it over mid on for four. A great half century and more importantly a historical victory for the ‘chokers’.

Crowds erupt in joy, South African jump off their dressing room onto the field and few disappointed faces in the Australian camp. A famous first innings score, and extraordinary run chase and a momentous match in the history of World Cricket.