Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Shane Warne spins Australia to first of three consecutive World Cup titles in 1999
June 20, 1999 - Australia lost their second match of the 1999 Cricket World Cup against New Zealand by 5 wickets and conceded another defeat against Pakistan in their third match. The Aussies had their backs against the wall, or the way in which the champion team perceived it, in the words of Steve Waugh, that they simply had to win all their coming seven matches to win the title.
Now that is one way of looking at it!
As it turned out, Australia did not win seven consecutive matches due to the tied semi-final against South Africa but went on to lay their hands on the coveted World Cup trophy.
Having lost the group match against Pakistan less than a month ago and played catch up cricket through the majority of the semi-final against South Africa, Australia knew that they would have to be at their best in order to beat the mercurial side.
Saeed Anwar, who was in great form and had scored centuries in both the last two matches, started off things with three glorious boundaries for Pakistan. However, Damien Fleming got the better of him as the batsman lost his pegs off an in-seamer from around the wicket while trying another of his trademark cover drives.
By the time Steve Waugh brought leg spinner Shane Warne into the attack, Pakistan were in a spot of bother at 69/3 from 21 overs. Apart from Steve Waugh's missed catch by Herschelle Gibbs, Warne was responsible for turning the tide in the semi-final.
Coming on the back of a Man of the Match award, the leggie repeated his heroics in the final as well. Warne dismissed Ijaz Ahmed on a ball that pitched on leg and took Ahmed's off stump along with it. Wickets of Moin Khan, Shahid Afridi and Wasim Akram followed which reduced Pakistan to 129/9 before they were bowled out for just 132 within 39 overs.
Australia surely have to be credited for their disciplined bowling, but Pakistan themselves were no lesser culprits. After a dodgy start, instead of trying to consolidate, the team went for glory shots and paid the price.
While a target of 133 would be chased 9 times out of 10, this was the World Cup final and funny things happen in cricket. The biggest concerns for Australia were the swing of Wasim Akram and the pace of Shoaib Akhtar with the new ball.
However, like he had done through most of the tournament, Adam Gilchrist reiterated that attack is the best form of defence as the wicketkeeper-batsman brought up his half-century within the first 10 overs. He swatted 54 runs off 36 deliveries at a strike rate of 150 in a knock that included 8 fours and 1 six, wiping out any hopes of Pakistan's comeback.
Darren Lehmann hit the winning runs as Australia chased down the total, just one ball after the 20-over mark, and were crowned the champions.
Shane Warne was awarded the Man of the Match in the final for his figures of 9-1-33-4. He finished as the joint-highest wicket-taker of the tournament - the joint-highest in World Cup history at that point as well. Warne picked up 20 wickets from 10 World Cup matches at an average of 18.04, including two four-wicket hauls at the most crucial junctures in the tournament - in the semi-final and the final.
This was the first building block of Australia's World Cup hat-trick. The team went on to win the 2003 and 2007 editions as well.
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