March 3, 2003 – When a wrong calculation knocked South Africa out of World Cup

March 3, 2003 – When a wrong calculation knocked South Africa out of World Cup

According to the Duckworth-Lewis method, 229/6 after 45 overs will make the game a Tie but not a South African win.

Lance Klusener and Mark Boucher of South Africa
Lance Klusener and Mark Boucher of South Africa. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The 2003 Cricket World Cup was one of the many big events that handed the tag of “chokers” to South Africa when they missed out on a spot in the Super Sixes round. The rain rule method in the 1992 World Cup and a Tie in the 1999 World Cup saw the Saffers failing to make it to the Final. The mixture of both knocked the Proteas out of the World Cup played at home in the first stage itself as South Africans committed a huge blunder in a must-win game that was affected by the rain and ended in a Tie.

A surprise win over Sri Lanka and a walkover by New Zealand put Kenya in the race for Super Sixes finish with 16 points in their kitty. South Africa, who had 12 points before their final league game, faced Sri Lanka (16 points) at the Kingsmead in Durban. In a crucial game for both the teams, the Lankan side elected to bat first. Marvan Atapattu led the charge with a 129-ball 124 that included 18 fours as he guided his side towards a big total.

He put on a 152-run stand for the 4th wicket with Aravinda de Silva, who scored 73 off 78 balls with eight boundaries. The partnership played a crucial role in Sri Lanka‘s total of 268/9 in the 50 overs. Herschelle Gibbs’ 73-run knock kept the Saffers in the chase before the opposition spinners came into play. The home team lost wickets at regular intervals as they were reduced to 5/149 in 30th over. Captain Shaun Pollock joined Mark Boucher in the hunt for the remaining 120 runs.

A mistake that cost captaincy to Shaun Pollock:

Umpires Venkat and Steve Bucknor carry out a pitch inspection after rain during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 Pool B match between South Africa and Sri Lanka
Umpires Venkat and Steve Bucknor carry out a pitch inspection after rain during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 Pool B match between South Africa and Sri Lanka. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

As Pollock and Boucher kept ticking the scoreboard, the rain gods started to open the gates with a drizzle. The duo put on 63 from 80 balls for the 6th wicket before Pollock was caught a millimetre short of his crease due to quick reflexes of Muralitharan. The rain started to get heavier and Lance Klusener made one run off eight balls to ensure no further loss. The off-spinner gave away five wides in the 45th over that brought the home team closer to the D/L par score.

Boucher smashed a huge six down the ground on the 5th ball and nearly celebrated as he received an information stating their score needed to be 229 for the loss of six wickets at end of the 45th over. The keeper-batsman played out the final delivery to mid-wicket before the batsmen walked off only to know that they didn’t win. According to the Duckworth-Lewis method, 229/6 after 45 overs will make the game a Tie but not a South African win.

With the home team needed a win to enter the Super Sixes round, the gloomy faces in the dressing room had to hope for the rain to stop which never happen. As game didn’t resume before the cut off local time of 10:45 PM, the result was settled to a Tie based on the D/L method. Kenya and New Zealand qualified from South Africa’s pool along with Sri Lanka. Shaun Pollock was dethroned as the South African skipper and was succeeded by Graeme Smith.