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Valiant Heroes of 1999 World Cup



1999 World Cup held in England and Wales was a good one for African nation of Zimbabwe. Despite having some good quality players they were not able to showcase a notable performance in world Cups. But in 1999 edition they were able to have some sort of success, as they were able to advance to the second stage of super six. To a great extent, all-rounder Neil Johnson was instrumental in the success of Zimbabwe. 1999 world cup witnessed some great heroics of the likes of Lance Klusener, Wasim Akram and Shane Warne. Neil Johnson's heroics with the bat and ball often went unnoticed amongst them. Neil Johnson opened for Zimbabwe both, with the bat as well as the ball. Neil Johnson played only 13 tests and 48 ODIs for Zimbabwe . He retired from cricket in 2000 due to payment issues with his cricket board. In 13 test he scored 532 runs at an average of 24.18 with a top score of 107. He also picked up 15 wickets. In ODIs he scored 1,679 runs at an average of 36.50. He has scalped 35 wickets in ODIs.

1999 World cup was a great arena for the all-rounder. Their first match was against Kenya. Riding on a half century by Alpesh Vadher, Kenya made 229/7 in 50 overs. Neil Johnson picked up 4 Kenyan wickets for 42 runs in 10 overs. The second innings of match too belonged to Neil Johnson, as he top scored with 59 and took Zimbabwe to an easy win in just 41 overs. Zimbabwe then shocked India when they defeated the Asian giants by 3 runs. But Zimbabwe failed to repeat their success against England and Srilanka. They lost their matches against them. But Zimbabwe once again put up a great performance against South Africa. Batting first Zimbabwe managed to get 233/ 6 in 50 overs , once again Neil Johnson leading with a 76 off 117 balls. In South African innings, Neil Johnson dismissed Kirsten off the first ball. Again he dismissed Kallis for a duck. In total he picked up 3 South African wickets for 27 runs in 8 overs, including Hansie Cronje. The South African resistance ended up in 185 runs and Zimbabwe once again made history in World Cup. Neil Jonson was adjudged as the man of match for his glittering performance with both bat and ball. 

In Zimbabwe's match against Australia they had to chase a mammoth total of 304. Neil Johnson had picked up 2/43  in the Australian innings. With the bat, he scored a breezy 132 from 144 balls. Unfortunately Zimbabwe's innings ended up in 259. But Neil Johnson was once again awarded the man of match, for his great performance. Zimbabwe chasing a total of 271 against Pakistan could only muster up 123 despite a half century from Neil Johnson. The all-rounder made 54 runs, but never got any valuable support from the opposite end. Guy Whittall and Heath Streak were the only other Zimbabwean batsmen to get into the double figures. They had scored 16 runs before perishing. 


The memories of 1999 World Cup brings into mind the tragic run out of Allan Donald in the semi finals and the exit of South Africa from the World Cup. Lance Klusener made a valiant effort for the single, but Allan Donald didn't heard the call, and it was curtains for South Africa. South Africa as usual had begun the tournament in style, when they defeated India by 4 wickets. Lance Klusener was instrumental in the win, picking up 3 wickets and scoring 12 runs off 4 balls. In their next match against Srilanka, South Africa were in a non enviable position of 122/8. From such a position they reached 199/9 , thanks to 52 runs scored by Lance Klusener. In the Srilankan innings he took 3 wickets for 21 runs and the Lankan chase ended up in 110 runs. Lance Klusener was awarded the man of match for his contributions. In their next outing against England , South Africa made 225/7 and folded up English innings for 103 runs! Once again Lance Klusener contributed 48 runs with the bat and took 1 wicket. Again Klusener was the man of match. Klusener was having a dream run in the tournament.

Kenya was their next opponent in the tournament and chasing a target of 153, South African reached there in style with 7 wickets in hand and 9 overs to spare. Lance Klusener picked 5/21 to earn another man of match award. Lance Klusener was known for his swing bowling and the big hitting. Presence of Klusener and Pollock genuinely provided the batting depth for South Africa. South Africa's next game was against Zimbabwe and everyone expected South Africa to crush their opponent. But Zimbabwe and Neil Johnson had other ideas and chasing a target of 234, South Africa could only make 185. Lance Klusener and Shaun Pollock made 52 runs each, but that wasn't enough to take South Africa home. South Africa in their next match against Pakistan, while chasing 221 were in danger at 176/7. Once again Klusener smashed valuable 46 runs with the bat and gifted South Africa with another victory. Lance Klusener was once again the man of  match. South Africa had won 4 out of last 5 games and in all the matches won by them, Lance Klusener had won the man of match award. In the next match against New Zealand, South Africa made 287 runs, and restricted Kiwis to 213. This time Klusener didn't contributed much with bat, but took 2/46 in the NewZealand innings. Australia was their next opponent in the super six stage. Australia registered a narrow victory with 2 balls to spare. Lance Klusener made 36 with the bat and took 1/53 with the ball. This failure cost them dear. South Africa once again faced Australia, and this time in the semi finals. Batting first, Australia could only make 213. Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock created havoc as they picked up 4/32 and 5/36 respectively. South Africa chasing the modest total, was in dire straits in 45th over as they were 175/6. It was then, Klusener came to bat and he took South Africa almost to the target with some big hitting. Klusener scored a quick fire 31 off 16 balls. 9 runs were required in the final over. Klusener scored 2 boundaries off the first two deliveries. Third delivery was a dot ball and the fatal run out came in the 4th ball. The cricket lovers all over the world, saw in despair the exit of South Africa from the world cup. Klusener won 4 man of match awards in the tournament. Jacques Kallis was the only other South African who had won the award in 1999 World Cup.


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