On 12 March 2006, South Africa and Australia played what is widely considered to be greatest one day international of all time.
Seven years ago South Africa and Australia walked out onto the field at New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg and gave the crowd one of the finest cricket spectacles ever seen.
With the five match series poised at 2-2, Australia won the toss and elected to bat. What followed was some ferocious yet consistent batting from the Aussie top order.
All four of Australia’s top batsmen scored half centuries or better, with captain Ricky Ponting smashing 164 runs off 105 balls before being caught by Boeta Dippenaar off the bowling of Roger Telemachus.
Australia reached a formiddable target of 434 with the loss of just four wickets. As well as Ponting’s effort, Mike Hussey contributed 81 runs and Simon Katich scored 79.
Chasing a target of over 400 in a 50 over match is asking a lot but what South Africa proceeded to do was truly remarkable.
The Proteas lost opener Dippenaar in just the second over off the bowling of Nathan Bracken and at 3-1 Australia must have been sensing a victory.
Up stepped SA number three Herschelle Gibbs to bat the innings of a lifetime. The man from Cape Town took the game to the Australians, hitting the ball around the ground and eventually reaching 175 runs before being dismissed by Andrew Symonds.
When Gibbs left the field South Africa were on 299-4 with 31.5 overs played. Yet they lost three key wickets during the next hundred runs and wicket-keeper Mark Boucher was the only recognised batsman left at the crease, with his side needing to score 36 runs off 21 balls.
With bowlers Andrew Hall and Makhaya Ntini the only South African wickets in hand, the advantage appeared to have swung back Australia’s way, especially when Bracken completed his five wicket haul with the wicket of Telemachus.
South Africa battled on and when Hall was dismissed they needed just two runs to win off three balls. Ntini came in on strike and managed to score a single off his first ball, leaving Boucher to strike to the boundary for four and giving South Africa a one wicket win with a ball to spare.
The match had everything, from superb batting performances from Ponting and Gibbs – who were awarded joint man-of-the-match awards – to excellent bowling by Bracken and of course one of the most dramatic finishes in cricket history.