A one-day match can end in a win, loss, no result or a tie for a team. The first three are foregone conclusions since one team dominates over the other or surrenders at some stage of the game. Whereas, a no result can also occur due to poor weather. But a tie is usually unpredictable and is a rare occurrence in this format of the game since there are 300 balls of play per innings and that is long enough to enforce a favourable result.
These matches have actually made the game richer since it has been entertaining for the public flocking the stadiums or watching the television. They would want to watch ODIs especially on a regular basis, especially between those two countries who played equally well and the scorecard is a testimony to the fact. Here are those matches which have had thrilling finishes over the years –
1) Australia vs. South Africa – Headingley, 1999
This was the epic clash of them all in the World Cup tournament.
Australia, led by the legendary Steve Waugh staged a strong comeback after losing to Pakistan in one of the round robin games at Headingley. While South Africa, led by Hansie Cronje were already tipped to lay their hands on the trophy prior to the tournament following two years of brilliant ODI cricket displayed the team. Very few would have imagined that by the end of this semifinal, this would turn out to be one of the greatest one-day internationals played of all time.
South Africa won the toss and chose to field first, perhaps due to the fact that Australia had defeated them in a Super Six game while chasing and the Proteas were much successful in the tournament batting second. Despite a strong batting line up Australia had, they had to struggle to get runs on the board. After 17 overs, they were 68/4 with all the top four batsmen back in the pavilion. It had to take a gritty 90-run partnership between captain Waugh and Michael Bevan to give Australia atleast something worthwhile to defend, in a crunch game. They were eventually bowled out for 213 in 49.2 overs as Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald shared 9 wickets between them, ripping apart the Aussies completely.
The Proteas were definitely the favourites to win the match when they came out to bat. Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs started positively, putting on a 48-run opening partnership until it was the time for the Shane Warne magic. Gibbs was dismissed in the next over of his followed by Cronje throwing his wicket away, which meant South Africa were left reeling at 53/3 in 14.3 overs. Warne had put so much pressure that runs began to dry up until Jonty Rhodes showed that he can bat a bit and not just field well, and Jacques Kallis proving his class in a must-win game. But the moment he was dismissed, the wheels had begun to come off and some big hitting from the in-form Lance Klusener got the game closer than expected.
South Africa needed 10 off the last over and Damien Fleming was given the responsibility to pull off the victory. Klusener smashed boundaries off the first two balls and it was almost game over. But the only flaw in his innings was his attempt to give the No.11 Donald the strike and he did not oblige, which eventually got him run out and it was a tie which ironically knocked them out of the tournament due to a relatively low net run rate in comparison to Australia’s. With two balls to spare, this was heartbreak for South Africa as a tie had to come in the semifinal but the match changed the landscape of ODI cricket, with Australia going to win the championship and dominating the sport as a whole for 12 years.
2) Australia vs. South Africa – Melbourne, 2000
The two honchos of ODI cricket had again caught each other’s necks, close to a year after that dramatic semifinal.
Australia had two changes from the 1999 team to play this match while South Africa were without the White Lightening and had a new captain in Shaun Pollock, following Cronje being banned from international cricket for life due to match fixing the very same year.
This time though, South Africa bravely batted first in hostile conditions since the match was played in August, which is one of the months of Australia’s winter season. They could negotiate Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne well enough but Jason Gillespie made a grand return to international cricket with figures of 3/40 in his 10 overs with huge wickets of Kallis, Klusener and Pollock. Kallis once again hit a fifty but Klusener was not as effective with a 21-ball 12. Yet another fifty from Rhodes and wicketkeeper Mark Boucher guided South Africa to a modest total of 226/8 in 50 overs.
Australia seemed to be taking the game away with Mark Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn involved in substantial partnerships. But they all fell, and when the total reached to 177/5, the game had become wide open. Although Australia were still expected to win due to their lower order capable of batting, South Africa’s bowlers created havoc with all-rounder Andrew Hall picking the wickets of Steve Waugh and Michael Bevan in one over, which was the 49th of the innings. Warne and McGrath eventually stayed till the end, but could not hit the winning runs as the match ended in a tie, with Australia also finishing at 226/9 in 50 overs.
This match was a prelude to South Africa challenging Australia’s supremacy in one-day cricket the most amongst all the teams in the world. The 3 match series was leveled at 1-1, with South Africa taking confidence and winning the last game of the series.
3) South Africa vs. Australia – Potchefstroom, 2002
The battle resumed between the two powerhouses, but this time in South Africa. It was the third ODI of the seven match series, with Australia already up 2-0. Neither McGrath nor Warne were playing for the Aussies in this game, and this was the first series under Ricky Ponting’s captaincy due to Steve Waugh dropped from the team. Most of the players went on to play the World Cup in the same country exactly a year after. On the other hand, hosts South Africa were playing almost the similar side that played in the 2000 game.
South Africa won the toss and chose to bat first, relying on the safety approach in one-day cricket if there is confusion as to what to do after winning the toss. But nothing is safe for a batting line-up when there is Brett Lee bowling and his deadly pace caught the South African batsmen off guard throughout the innings. Australia did not feel McGrath’s absence one bit as Lee alongside Gillespie troubled the hosts, as Lee ended with 4 wickets in 9 overs. Incidentally, it was the pair of Kallis and Rhodes which succeeded yet again with fifties and as a result, South Africa could manage a total of 259/7 in 50 overs, which was competitive but a favourable result was not guaranteed.
However, Australia were in early trouble at 40/2 in the first 10 overs, with key batsmen such as Gilchrist and Ponting dismissed for low scores. Matthew Hayden and Damien Martyn resurrected the Aussies with a 73-run partnership for the third wicket, with Hayden going on score 78 and cementing his place as an opener in the side. Martyn and Darren Lehmann were also involved in a fifty partnership but all hell broke loose when the top five were given out and the lower order collapsed. Fortunately for the champions, the day was saved by the rookie batsman Jimmy Maher who scored an unbeaten 32-ball 43 while Nathan Hauritz, the No.11 batted sensibly to assure that atleast there is a tie.
Australia went on to win the series 5-1, with this game being a rare instance of the team not dominating a match completely. While this was a relief for South Africa in an otherwise disastrous home series.
4) South Africa vs. Sri Lanka – Durban, 2003
South Africa just does not know how to finish off matches in style! This is the main reason why they are called ‘chokers’ and chokers can never become champions due to fear in the team of losing. This match was reminiscent of the 1999 World Cup semifinal, as this tie was in the 2003 World Cup and incidentally it was another tied game which knocked South Africa out of the competition, this time though in their own backyard and in the last game of the first round.
Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat first in a day night contest on a lightening quick pitch at Kingsmead, Durban. If it was not for opener Marvan Atapattu’s 129-ball 124 and Aravinda de Silva’s 78-ball 73, the Lankans could have been bowled out under a score of 50. With Kallis’s three wickets helping, the hosts were able to restrict them to 268/9 in 50 overs.
South Africa were always in control despite the middle order floundering to the Lankan spin duo of Muttiah Muralitharan and skipper Sanath Jayasuriya. Herschelle Gibbs played a breathtaking 73 off 88 balls while Mark Boucher remained unbeaten on 45 off just 50 balls, until the weather gods intervened at the end of the 45th over, with the team requiring 40 runs to win from 30 balls. The home team had misread the Duckworth-Lewis calculation which is perhaps the reason why they went easy in their run chase, but had to pay the price of it.
In 45 overs as per the D/L method, South Africa’s score of 229 ensured that a tie will take place if the rain did not stop since the target of 230. And yet again, with the team’s net run rate lower than their major competitors, ironically it was Lance Klusener who remained stranded as South Africa, one of the favourites of the competition could not have hoped any more to win that elusive title. Sport can be so cruel sometimes!
5) South Africa vs. England – Bloemfontein, 2005
South Africa is at it again! This tie was against England seven years ago, in the 2nd ODI of a seven match ODI series at home. England were leading 1-0, so they gained some confidence coming into this game while the hosts desperately wanted to get off the mark in the series.
Graeme Smith won the toss and decided that South Africa would field first. England’s batsmen took complete advantage of this decision and tried to go uncharacteristically berserk on a flat batting wicket. All the four South African pacers got a wicket each, but England dominated more so courtesy the newbie Kevin Pietersen. He remained unbeaten till the end, scoring 108 runs off just 96 balls, announcing himself in grand fashion on the international stage as one of the world’s finest batsmen in the making. The innings was entertaining for many except South African fans who considered him a traitor and booed him almost every time he scored runs. Yet, he showed his character and the fact that he can thrive in pressure situations to the fullest. The century helped England post a competitive total of 270 by the end of 300 balls.
Jacques Kallis seems to have a record of scoring a fifty in every tie South Africa has been involved in ODI cricket. His 78-ball 63 alongside Gibbs’ 101-ball 78 were instrumental in the hosts remaining in the game despite hiccups due to a poor run rate. Justin Kemp chipped in with a 26-ball 32 and with the assistance of Boucher and Pollock, the Proteas reached much closer to the target until the rookie English bowler Kabir Ali bowled a fine last over, which included the wicket of Andrew Hall of the last ball of the match to ensure that England escape with a tie.
Pietersen went on to score two more hundreds in the series, capping off an amazing debut for him but England would go on to lose 1-4, which left their ODI standing questionable.
6) England vs. Australia – Lord’s, 2005
Australia, despite being the world champions have the record of the most number of tied matches in cricketing history. This was the seventh tied match ever that the team has featured in and England’s second in the year 2005, more precisely in a span of five months. This was the Natwest tri-series final at Lord’s, London as Australia looked to add another trophy in their glittering cabinet while England would have wished for some bragging rights ahead of the upcoming Ashes series.
Unlike most tied matches, this game was not a run feast at all. In fact, England skipper Michael Vaughan was so confident of his bowlers making good use of the greenish Lords track that he won the toss and decided to bowl first. Australia shockingly gave in to the English bowling after a 50-run partnership between Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden. It took a fabulous 62 off 81 balls from Mr. Cricket, Michael Hussey to make the team scramble to a paltry 196 all out in 48.5 overs as Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison were on fire, taking three wickets each.
England though started off horrendously, with the pitch doing all sorts to tricks to test the batsmen. Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath made life miserable for the top order, so much so that England were reduced to 33/5 in just 9.2 overs by the time Flintoff got out. However, Paul Collingwood and wicketkeeper Geraint Jones batted with determination to post a 116-run partnership to take the fight to the bullying Aussies. Unfortunately, both of them were dismissed, which tilted the game back in Australia’s favour.
The spinner Ashley Giles managed to escape with Glenn McGrath’s last ball of the 50th over by scrambling for two runs as leg byes, ensuring that this turned out to be another classic contest as England shared the Natwest Series trophy with the world champions and was a prerequisite to a mesmerizing Ashes to come and so, the most memorable English summer.
7) Ireland vs. Zimbabwe – Jamaica, 2007
Yet another World Cup, yet another tie. Besides, for the first time, it has involved two minnow teams which goes to show that contests between them are worth for viewers to watch and it is not mandatory that top-ranked teams provide the maximum entertainment. Ireland and Zimbabwe were involved in one of the finest matches in World Cup cricket and if not, then definitely in the 2007 edition of the tournament in an otherwise controversial and appalling competition to watch.
Zimbabwe’s captain Prosper Utseya won the toss and elected to field first. Little did he and his team know that there is an opening batsman in the opposition called Jeremy Bray who was going to make it his day with a magnificent hundred as he carried the bat in the innings. His 137-ball 115 was the standout performance in what was otherwise an innings dominated mainly by the Zimbabwean bowlers. Ireland finished at 221/9 in 50 overs and it was almost taken for granted that Zimbabwe would win this game, considering that their batting line-up was strong enough to tackle Ireland’s bowling.
It seemed as the African minnows were running away with the game due to half centuries from openers Vusi Sibanda hitting an 84-ball 67 while Stuart Matsinkenyari remained not out till the end with a quickfire 73 off just 76 balls. They were 203/6 after 43.4 overs but Ireland in a twist of fate picked up the last four wickets for just 18 runs in a span of 6.2 overs, with the No.11 Elton Rainsford run out on the last ball of the match, similar to Allan Donald in 1999.
This ensured Ireland pulling off a completely unexpected tie and moving into the Super Eights stage because they upset Pakistan in the previous round robin match. This was like a win for Ireland, and not a tie since they were able to claw their way back which cannot be considered a fluke, despite Zimbabwe being a more powerful opposition. While for Zimbabwe, this was as good as a loss as they were knocked out of the tournament, losing their best chance to repeat their fate of 2003, when they qualified for the Super Six stage.
8) New Zealand vs. England – Napier, 2008
England will occupy the last three positions in this list. They have never deserved to be in the top 5 of the ODI rankings, but they do produce some exciting cricket to watch. This was on the tour to New Zealand in 2008 in the fourth ODI at McLean Park, Napier.
New Zealand won the toss and chose to bowl first. All the top five English batsmen posted fifties to finish at a colossal 340 after 50 overs. Skipper Paul Collingwood remained unbeaten on 54 off just 30 balls, with 36 runs of his coming in huge sixes to get them to the total. In the end, that proved to be the difference between the two teams on what was a pitch which had no margin for error for the bowlers. Apart from the part-timer Jesse Ryder and pacer Kyle Mills, all bowlers took a pounding
New Zealand in reply, started extremely well with a fifty from Brendon McCullum at the top of the order. Jamie How, batting at No.3 smashed a brisk 116-ball 139 but the lower order could contribute only 38 runs off the last 38 balls which meant that New Zealand had tied the game and not won it. Luke Wright, the England all-rounder gave away just 6 runs in the 50th over which was a gamble Collingwood took, but fortunately paid off.
But this meant that England could not win the ODI series as New Zealand continued to lead 2-1, with just one game to go. Yet, this was one of the few games England would prefer to remember in an otherwise disastrous run that year.
9) India vs. England – Bangalore, 2011
In the last four Cricket World Cups, there has been one game which has been a tied fixture. 2011 was no different with a riveting contest ending in this fashion.
Hosts India took on England in their second group game of the championship, coming in as favourites to win. India thrashed Bangladesh in the first match in Dhaka while England were on the verge of being upset in their very first match by their European neighbours and pushovers, The Netherlands.
MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat first, wanting to utilize the fresh and flat Chinnaswamy pitch first. With the Indian batting in form, the English bowling looked more erratic than before and runs were coming thick and fast. There were huge partnerships from the Indian top order, with Sachin Tendulkar leading the way for the umpteenth time. He bought up his 47th ODI ton courtesy a breathtaking 115-ball 120, which to an extent demoralized England. A lower order collapse however, saw India bowled out for 338 in 49.5 overs but still the total was gigantic enough to give Andrew Strauss’ men the shivers as they had to chase under lights.
Strauss though, went on to play a captain’s innings with a superb 158 off just 145 balls and not Strauss-like but way too effective as 339 runs were to be chased down. Ian Bell played a good supporting role to his leader with a 71-ball 69. At 281/2 in 42 overs, England seemed to be taking the honours of a stunning win in India, until both Bell and Strauss were dismissed in one over by India’s bowling spearhead, Zaheer Khan. From there, England wobbled but fortunately their lower order could bat and consequently Graeme Swann hung on till the end with a vital 15 off 12 balls for the tie.
India’s confidence was dented for certain, with the UDRS also facing flak. But credit had to be given to England for their fighting spirit despite their inconsistency in ODI cricket. This match made way for a thrilling tournament to see, as India went to on to become world champions while England produced some of the most nail-biting matches ever until they were knocked out in the quarter finals.
10) England vs. India – Lord’s, 2011
As if the World Cup contest was not enough, England and India locked horns again in a match at Lord’s on 11th September 2011. It was turning out to be a horrible tour for India due to a Test series whitewash and being 0-2 down in the 5 match ODI series. This was the 4th ODI and a must win game for the world champion team to salvage some pride.
India’s team was as good as new than the one that played the Bangalore match while England also had few changes with a new captain in Alastair Cook as well as a few newcomers and top bowlers returning from injury. But the intensity of the contest remained the same between both the sides, making it fascinating to watch despite India facing a drubbing throughout the tour.
Cook won the toss and England were to bowl first on a pitch which was moist early in the day, giving some assistance to the fast bowlers. For the first time in months, India played as if they were World Cup winners with some good batting performances from the big guns, Suresh Raina and skipper MS Dhoni. Both of them hit fifties above run a ball to ensure that India, which was 110/4 in 26 overs reached 280/5 in 50 overs as the demons of Bangalore returned in the English pacers.
India started off well, pushing England on the back foot after they were 61/3 in 12.2 overs, losing all the top three batters. But a 98-run partnership between Ian Bell and the comeback man Ravi Bopara set things up nicely for England to chase down the target. However, the moment Bell lost his wicket, the game shifted towards India but they could not capitalize on that wicket as it was Swann yet again, this time alongside Tim Bresnan to have bailed out England. Eventually a tie was secured by the time rain played spoilsport and the D/L method had to be used, with England being 270/8 in 48.5 overs.
The weather gods played Judas by denying India an opportunity to atleast win one match on the wretched tour; while England went on to win 3-0, completing a highly successful home summer since the one in 2005.