By now, New Zealand had gotten used to watching Lance Klusener snatching away a victory from them on the last ball of the match. Whatever it is, the way he did still hurt the opponents.
South Africa hosted New Zealand for a six-ODI series in 2000. The first match ended in a no result, courtesy of rains, before the hosts went on to win the next four matches. With a hope to break the jinx and finally win an ODI on the South African soils, the BlackCaps flew down to Cape Town for the final ODI of the series. Even though the final match was a dead rubber, since the series was already won by the Proteas, the New Zealanders would give their everything to win the match.
Cape Town’s Newlands Stadium had short and straight boundaries and the better batting team on the day usually won the contest. Shaun Pollock won the toss and put New Zealand to bat first. The visitors did not have the best of the starts as they lost both the openers, Nathan Astle and Chris Nevin in the eighth and ninth over respectively. Alan Donald gave a huge blow to the Kiwis when he dismissed their skipper Stephen Flemming in the 13th over and left them struggling at 39 for 3. Flemming, who still had scars from their loss to South Africa two seasons ago at home, could see a whitewash on the cards if the wickets continued to fall like pins.
Then came the saviour duo at the crease; the cricket that followed was probably New Zealand’s best in that series. Putting Chris Cairns and Roger Twose’s innings together, the opposition’s bowlers were frustrated for over 200 minutes as the two went on to put up 150 runs for the fourth wicket. From New Zealand at miserable 39 for 3, the next wicket fell after New Zealand had 189 runs on the board.
Taking full advantage of Newlands’ small and straight ground, Cairns big hitting at the perfect timing was a delight to watch. Meanwhile, his partner Twose provided the required support. He played a slow-innings but he finally struck his maiden international century. Twose was eluded of an ODI century in his previous 74 matches. Unfortunately, that hundred remained the only time Twose entered triple digits in international cricket.
New Zealand, who had touched 200 only once in the last five occasions, ended up 256 runs on the board, despite a disastrous start. It was mainly because of the 23 overs Twose and Cairns played together that turned the match, that could have worked in the favour of the BlackCaps had Klusner not spoiled the party.
When South Africa came out to bat in the second innings, the 16,000 spectators in Newlands would have thought that they would then witness an easy chase from their team. What followed next was slightly different from that. Daryll Cullinan and Gary Kristen came out to open the innings and they were off to a decent start. For the Kiwis, Cairns and Shayne O’Connor opened the bowling. The fourth over of the innings, which was O’Connor’s second of the day, turned out to be destructive for the hosts.
The pacers made two breakthroughs in successive deliveries and suddenly was on a hattrick when the new man in, Boje, was on the strike.
Few more runs were scored and after four overs, O’Connor struck again as he removed Boje for 8 off 13 balls. South Africa with Kristen and Jhonty Rhodes at the crease, began to rebuild the innings. From 30 for 3, they lost the next wicket only in the 16th over to go down 65 for 4 when Kristen was caught and bowled off medium pacer Chris Harris’ bowling. That dismissal brought Mark Boucher to join Rhodes in the middle and that partnership between the two laid the foundation before the lower order took the charge.
O’Connor’s three wickets in his first fours were negated by the century stand between Rhodes and Boucher that brought South Africa back into the contest. The two went five per over before Rhodes edged one behind to the wicket-keeper off legspinner Brooke Walker’s ball. A total of three wickets fell in the next six overs and that saw Shafiek Abrahams was left along with Lance Klusener to finish the job for South Africa.
Shafiek played a sensible unbeaten knock of 16 off 26 balls and left the big hitting to Klusener, who had done it before in the previous match. In the final over, when South Africa needed seven from two balls, Klusener smashed two boundaries off O’Connor’s deliveries to turn the table around in the most ruthless manner. Klusener winning the match on the last ball against New Zealand was not a new sight for the visitors.
Flashback moments for Flemming
When Klusener ran like never to celebrate in Newlands, Flemming would have recollected the previous occasions when they were treated like this by him.
Just two days before the sixth ODI in Cape Town, the two sides faced off in Durban. In the rain-hit match, the target for South Africa was revised to 153 off 32 overs. In front of his home crowd, Klusener dashed New Zealand’s hope of victory by hitting 41 in 18 balls.
It was certain that neither the Cape Town loss or the Durban loss was not as hurtful as the Napier one. In 1999, Klusener’s six on the last ball helped South Africa on their way to a series win. It was the third famous instance of a batsman hitting the final ball to win an ODI and out of the three instances, it was Klusener with the bat twice.